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Section 377 Verdict: This Is Just One Argument That Has Been Put To Rest

Just because the law is gone doesn't mean that all is hunky dory. A friend once told me that when one is cynical, it means that they are hopeful for an even better future. That's why I was cynical yesterday and still cynical today.

Section 377 Verdict: This Is Just One Argument That Has Been Put To Rest
An activist waves a rainbow flag (LGBT pride flag) after the Supreme Court verdict which decriminalises consensual gay sex, outside the Supreme Court in New Delhi.
Section 377 Verdict: This Is Just One Argument That Has Been Put To Rest
outlookindia.com
2018-09-08T12:48:05+0530

When the Delhi High Court read down Section 377 in 2009, I was in high school, and busy telling myself that my girl crushes were just me wanting to be "best friends" with them. I found out about the decriminalisation, and ironically enough, decided I wasn't one of them queers and went so far back into the closet that I might as well have gone to Narnia.

Fast forward to 2013, I am queer and here and all that. When it came back, my friends and I organised meetings and formed a queer collective page for our college online and mobilised people to come for the protest. I was angry and frustrated and felt like the law just added on to the problems. And rightly so!

Yesterday, when I heard that the verdict on Section 377 will be out in the morning, my immediate reaction was one of apprehension and cynicism. And in the morning, when the verdict was finally out, I was happy. But also… not really?

In the five years since 2013, I only became queerer, steadily appearing more and more non-binary and androgynous. In these five years, I had loved and lost love. I have people who support me, and no longer hid. But when me loving someone who is not a cisman was okay, I have been policed more and more for the way I look. And this is not my struggle alone, of course. Now that 377 is gone, and because it was sent away with a progressive and well worded judgment, I can love and have consensual sex with anyone of my choice and in whatever way I pleased. Yay.

But I know that when I go to a public toilet tomorrow, I'll still be questioned a million times before entering the ladies stall. The security guards at malls and airports will still check me extra thoroughly with roaming hands and metal detector wands pressing hard against my breasts. Where is my right to privacy here? If there are screening committees established tomorrow to determine if someone is trans or not, what happens to right to privacy and right to life there? When I'm softly coerced to reveal my sexual identity and/or pronouns at a workplace/conference/meeting, even feminist and queer ones, for the sake of political correctness alone from the non-queer or in the name of truth, what happens to my right to privacy then? Is my bedroom the only place where my right to privacy is applicable?

The queer movement and its past, present, and future belong to those who lived and loved as they pleased. And to those who got told to shut up but kept shouting anyway. And to those who were told to only talk about their gender and sexuality but they kept sticking their noses into all other matters of injustice as well.And to those who embrace and live out all their identities and lives together. To those who queer their lives in more than one way and live it, sometimes out loud against the silence and sometimes quietly against the noise.

My point is not that one shouldn't be happy that section 377 is no more, but that it's important to remember that this is just one argument that has been put to rest. Just because the law is gone doesn't mean that all is hunky dory. A friend once told me that when one is cynical, it means that they are hopeful for an even better future. That's why I was cynical yesterday and still cynical today.

But I'm happy. I'm happy for the 12-year-old, the 15-year-old, and the 19-year-old me. I'm happy for all my fellow ex-criminals. I'm happy that the Supreme Court rectified the wrong and righted it well. I'm really happy that this damn argument has finally been put to rest, and we won't have to fight the same fight again. We have fought it one too many times anyway.


(The writer is a queer feminist working on gender, sexuality, and technology, with Point of View, a feminist non profit based in Bombay.  Views are personal.)

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