India: One year after freedom: How are LGBTs faring today, since Section 377 was struck down by the Supreme Court?

Arundhati Katju The writer is a lawyer. She represented the lead petitioners in Navtej Singh Johar vs Union of India

This day last year – not at the stroke of the midnight hour, but somewhere around 11.30am – LGBT Indians “awoke to life and freedom”. Passing its judgment in Navtej Singh Johar vs Union of India, the Supreme Court of India struck down Section 377, India’s colonial-era sodomy law. For LGBT Indians, this was the moment of moving from a colonial legal regime to the Indian Constitution’s promises of equality, dignity and fraternity.

The question that i am asked most frequently is: ‘The law has changed – but will society change?’ My answer is – society changes because LGBT people are changing and gaining the confidence to live the lives they dreamt of.

To quote the Johar judgment, there was an “unbridgeable divide between the moral values on which [Section 377] is based and the values of the Constitution.” The Constitution’s promises have now been made true for LGBT Indians. One year is a good time for introspection. The moment of freedom has been savoured, the shift begun from a mentality of fear to the confidence to assert citizenship rights, though the trauma of criminalisation may last a lifetime.

It is also a good time to reflect on the work that remains. The past year has seen dramatic changes. Dutee Chand – India’s fastest woman! – came out. When her partner asked her what name they would give their relationship, she responded by telling the world about her sexual orientation. Hats off to her.

Bollywood is seeing changes, too. Film has the power to create a moral narrative that reaches all corners of the country. Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga hit the right note – especially in depicting the bullying and depression that many young gay people face. It was also special in showing a father moving from bewilderment to supporting his lesbian daughter. Read more via times of India