In what is seen as a huge blow to the homosexual community, the Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside the Delhi High Court judgment decriminalising gay sex among consenting adults in private.
Onir, the only filmmaker in Bollywood to come out of the closet, was numbed with disappointment by the honourable Supreme Court’s decision.
"This is truly disappointing," he says. "We don’t know what our next move would be. Right now we’re all numbed and dismayed. All of us had hoped to see the primitive law go.
"The lower court had held up the individual’s right to choose his partner. The gay community had hoped that the Supreme Court would also uphold this very fundamental right. This judgement is a huge blotch on the Indian record of upholding human rights. Once again we are shown to be enslaved by a British law brought into the country more than a century ago. Article 377 doesn’t only criminalize gay sex, it also criminalizes all sex that is not procreational. Now you tell me, isn’t this an ironical joke in the land of Khajuraho and Kamasutra?
"And is the honourable Supreme Court trying to say that unmarried girls and boys in our country don’t have sex, or have it only to have babies? Sex has never been only for procreation. Be it during the era of kings and queens in the ancient times or now among college kids, sex cannot be for procreation alone. It is a stupid ancient law thrust on us by the Britishers.
"In 2009, the Delhi High Court took such a progressive step by the decriminalization of gay sex. Now the honourable Supreme Court has not stood by our constitutional right. Our constitution guarantees every citizen the right to equality and protection against discrimination. We don’t understand. They don’t understand. Why should I be denied the right to love who I want? The courts should be more worried about the hatred being propagated in our society on the basis of religion, caste, community and sex.
"Look at Nepal, our humble neighbour. They decriminalized gay sex 13 years ago when it was still a Hindu state. Nepal has also provided constitutional rights to the third sex. To me, that is real progress.
"I am trying to understand why the honourable Supreme Court has reversed the progress we seemed to make in the area of human rights. Sometimes I wonder if personal prejudices determine the lives of so many people. This is giving in to all kinds of right-wing fanaticism. I was hoping I’d be celebrating after the Supreme Court verdict. We don’t know what we’ll do now. I am sure our fight for sexual equality would grow stronger."