As Shakespeare said in one of his famous novels, Romeo and Juliet, where Juliet says – “What’s in a name? That which we call rose, by any other name would also smell sweet”.
This tries to say that the fundamental quality of anything is more important than a mere name.
In the same way, people should not be denied basic rights based on their sexual preference of an individual.
What is LGBTQ+?
LGBTQ means –
Lesbian – It is a woman who is sexually attracted to women.
Gay – It is a man who is sexually attracted to a man.
Bisexual – A person who is sexually attracted to both sexes.
Transgender – Gender identity and expression of a person is not the same as their sex at
Queer – sexual and gender expression which is not heterosexual or cisgender (opposite to transgender).
Queer is used by the people for embracing the idea of mainstream self and accepting one’s authentic self. They do not like to fit into hetero-normative standards i.e everyone is automatically heterosexual.
‘+’ – tells that the list mentioned is not complete and also includes other categories like asexual, pansexual, Intersex etc.
Sometimes, LGBTQ+ is also known for LGBTQIA, where the last two letters abbreviate for:
Intersex ( includes genitals/ sex organs that fall out of male/female categories – with both testicular and ovarian tissues, XXY males, external genitalia of normal men/women but internal hormones are opposite.
Asexual ( a person who does not experience sexual attraction towards any gender).
What is section 377, IPC?
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) states – “ Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment that can extend to ten years or shall be liable to fine”.
This was a law given by the British in 1861 to criminalise sexual activities that are against nature.
The Supreme Court restored the landmark Delhi High Court judgement which decriminalised homosexuality.
The court has diluted Article 377 of IPC, to exclude all kinds of adult consensual behaviour.
Post Article 377, IPC-
It made sure that the Fundamental Right of Equality for all and Freedom of Expression is restored.
It also allowed individuals of LGBTQ to show their sexuality without the fear of getting criminally prosecuted.
The right to privacy and choice of the citizenry is also given to them.
India being a diversified country, has come to a step closer to equality for all but there is a long way to go in social acceptance
Impact after repealing Article 377, IPC
The LGBTQ community can avoid harassment by Law Enforcement agencies because of the abrogation of section 377.
Due to criminalisation, some were not able to access proper healthcare i.e prevention/ testing/ treatment of HIV.
Now proper healthcare along with decreased substance abuse, proper mental health, and a drop in violence could be seen.
Many Religions are still against the third gender, but equality before the law is achieved.
Though diluting 377, it did not strike down the offences against Children, non-consensual sexual activity, and bestiality and are still punished under the law.
After NALSAR Judgement, each individual can identify himself/herself and can undergo sex reassignment.
As same-sex marriages are still not legalised in India, it is high time that a government policy which allows LGBTQ couples to get married adopt their spouse’s property etc should come into existence.
The legal rights and Obligations of those undergoing sex reassignment should be specified.
Article 377 still debars the LGBTQ+ community from adopting children altogether.
Even Single parents (women/men) are allowed to adopt but that is not the same in the case of LGBTQ+.
According to the new surrogacy bill, single parents and LGBTQ+ are prohibited to have children through surrogacy.
Workplace discrimination – denying a job because a medical test showed Intersex variants, being removed from the navy due to a gender change operation etc. are some examples. Hence, there is a need for amendments to Employment laws.
The current law on Sexual Harassment in the workplace takes the only woman into account and does not consider other genders. So, it is essential for gender-neutral harassment laws with anti-discriminatory policies to prevent targeting on LGBTQ+ community.
There is also a need for educating kids, and teenagers in school so that the LGBTQ+ are not bullied/ abused. Adolescence Education Programme (AEP), Sex Education, and anti-bullying laws are the need of the hour.
In the end, there is a need to bring in societal change for the acceptance of the third gender and families need to be more open about welcoming LGBTQ members.