'If people understand the love between boy-boy, girl-girl or transgenders, then that is the first great step for society to change.'
Krishna Reddy Medikonda, an IITian, was contemplating leaving the country.
But the Supreme Court's landmark verdict on September 6 decriminalising Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code has given him new hope.
"I wanted to stay with my partner, but it was not possible to do so openly," Medikonda tells Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf.
"Because of this judgment, I will now stay in India," adds Medikonda, who was part of a group of 20 IIT students and alumni who filed a petition against the impugned law.
What made you and your fellow IITians file a petition against Section 377?
When the petition was filed by Navtej Singh Johar, all my friends in IIT thought we must file a co-petition as it would make a lot of impact.
If an IITian group does something, then everyone comes to know that something is going on.
Everyone in India knows IIT.
We felt there would be some impact if we too support this cause, as the earlier petitioners had been fighting this case for years.
As an IITian, why did you think this issue was important for India?
It is not about being an IITian or anything.
It is like everyone in India has the right to do what they want unless and until they are not disturbing others.
Even if we are miniscule (in number), we should have the freedom that the Constitution gave us.
This is not unnatural, but natural.
There is nothing to discriminate, but still a lot of people used to get discriminated against.
Did one feel a sense of guilt because of being gay? Will that change after this verdict?
It is nothing like that there is shame.
People used to take some time to accept this.
Once the judgment came, people from the community will be relieved, especially people who are in the closet and who are mostly depressed (due to discrimination).
Now, they can tell their parents openly that they are gay.
At least now they can be free to themselves.
Some people wanted to migrate because this issue was not settled here.
In the long run, this judgment will be helpful.
Many opposing the revocation of Section 377 say the LGBT community is a threat to the concept of family. What is your take on it?
I know some families, they are fine with this.
Until the time your family is fine with you for being LGBT, there is no threat to any family.
I don't think there is any threat as we are not disturbing anyone.
How difficult has life been for the LGBT community in India?
It is difficult because we cannot express our own feelings and talk to our friends.
Like, I cannot open my mouth in local trains as people will start judging you.
These things exist in our society.
I did not personally face anything because I had the support of my friends.
But when I was in school, I had a slightly girlish character and people used to tease me.
My school friends were not aware about these things.
If people are aware and educated, then these things will not happen.
The point here is people are not aware.
What does the future look like for the LGBT community in India after this judgment?
I thought I will settle in some other country where LGBT communities are accepted.
Because of this judgment, I will now stay in India.
I like India, but I had no option but to move out.
Now things have changed for me, as earlier society was not accepting me.
Even if I was not bothered about society, the Indian Penal Code was not accepting me earlier.
So how could I stay here?
But now, at least we have this judgment from the Supreme Court that is accepting us.
So there is nothing wrong in staying in India.
I wanted to stay with my partner. but it was not possible to do so openly.
There will be a lot of change now.
Striking down Section 377 only pertains to consensual sex between two adults. The apex court hasn't ruled on gay marriage, adoption, property rights etc for gays. Is that something you plan to pursue next?
This is the first step.
At least people are not criminalising us from now on.
There is some hope for the future.
Hopefully, in the future, someone else will take the step for marriage rights.
If someone takes that step, I will be a part of that.
There are a clutch of people who do not understand the significance of striking down Section 377. Could you explain why this law was anti-equality and anti-human rights?
Most people think Section 377 is about sex.
We are not fighting for sex, but for love.
People think that love is all about two persons of the opposite gender only, but it can be love between the same gender too.
If people understand this concept first, then they can understand who are lesbians and gays.
If people understand the love between boy-boy, girl-girl or transgenders, then that is the first great step for society to change.