TheIndian EXPRESS LATE CITY, 22 PAGES, MUMBAI, `5.00 ● FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2018 ● WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM ● REG.NO. MCS/067/2018 - 20 RNI REGN. NO. 1543/57 DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE SAME-SEX RELATIONS NO LONGER A CRIME — SUPREME COURT AFFIRMS IDENTITY, DIGNITY, EQUALITY & PRIVACY Love at first right History owes apology to LGBTQ From explicit No to a community for delay in justice, qualified Yes: how centuries of ostracism, suffering: SC political class blinked ANANTHAKRISHNAN G NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 6 FROM TODAY, consensual gay sex between adults in private is no longer a crime in India. Delivering a historic judgment Thursday which underlined the supremacy of “constitutional morality” over “societal morality”,theSupremeCourt, in one stroke, scrapped a 158-yearold British-era law that banned same-sex relations between consenting adults in private and punished them with jail terms for life or up to ten years. A five-judge Constitution Bench, comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y ChandrachudandInduMalhotra, in four separate but concurring orders on a clutch of petitions, decriminalised a part of Section 377of theIndianPenalCode,saying it violated the identity of an individual, the right to equality and the right to privacy — the provisionwill,however,continue to apply to cases of bestiality, carnal intercourse with minors and in cases of no consent. Triggering celebrations among members of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgen- BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY der, queer) community, the Bench overturned a 2013 ruling of the Supreme Court that had reinstated gay sex as a criminal offence after four years of decriminalisation following a Delhi High Court order. JusticeMalhotrasaid“history owes an apology to the membersof thiscommunityandtheir families for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy andostracismthattheyhavesuffered through the centuries”. The Centre, deciding not to contestthepetitionschallenging Section377, had left the decision to the “wisdom” of the Supreme Court. It did, however, ask the court not to go into other issues like gaymarriages, adoption and ancillarycivilrightsof theLGBTQ community. The judgment only dealt with decriminalisation of the provision, and did not go into into the issue of same-sex marriage but Justice Chandrachud did note it “calls for the state to recognise rights which bring true fulfilment to same-sex relationships”. CJI Misra, writing for himself and Justice Khanwilkar, said: “When we say union, we do not mean the union of marriage, though marriage is a union. As a concept, union also means companionship in every sense of the word, be it physical, mental, sexualoremotional.TheLGBTcommunity is seeking realisation of itsbasic right to companionship, solongassuchacompanionship is consensual, free from the vice of deceit, force, coercion and doesnotresultinviolationof the fundamental rights of others.” But Justice Chandrachud, while discussing American case laws allowing gay marriages, said that in the 2015 case of Obergefell vs Hodges, the US Supreme Court, by a 5-4 majority, ruled that the fundamental CONTINUEDONPAGE2 MANOJ CG & RAVISH TIWARI NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 6 TODAY COULD have happened five years ago. Inthewinterof 2013,months aheadof theLokSabhaelections, theSupremeCourt hadreversed the landmark 2009 Delhi High Court order that decriminalised same sex between consenting adults in terms similar to Thursday’s verdict. Thehighestcourthadlobbed the ball — or passed the buck depending on which side was speaking — to the political class asking it to legislate a suitable provision for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community’s demand for decriminalisation of consensual same-sex between adults. Butthepoliticalclassstepped back. ThenCongresspresidentand UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi steppedouttoexpresshopethat “Parliament will address the issue”,butherpartyandgovernment dithered. Then BJP president Rajnath Singh stood in solidarity with the Supreme Courtjudgmentsaying“howcan anyone justify unnatural acts?” Cut to today. The Congress tweeted a series of statements from party leaders welcoming the SC judgment decriminalising same-sex relations between consentingadults,therewasasilence from the BJP on this issue. That silence was deafening but deceptive too given how its Government under Narendra Modi didn’t stand in the way of the historic ruling today. “The Union of India, seeing the writing on the wall, has filed an affidavit in which it has not opposed the Petitioners but left CONTINUEDONPAGE2 A MOMENT IN HISTORY, 12:42 PM, OUTSIDE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA One of the petitioners in the case, Keshav Suri (right), and his partner Cyril Feuillebois celebrate the Supreme Court verdict reading down the 158-year-old Section 377 that held same-sex relations unnatural and, therefore, criminal. Neeraj Priyadarshi On a street far away, looking at a police car in the eye: ‘Today, I am no criminal’ PREMANKUR BISWAS & DIPANKAR GHOSE NEW DELHI, RAIPUR, SEPTEMBER 6 AT 6:30 PM, on Raipur’s Marine drive, the LGBT community collected to celebrate the apex court’s verdict. A group of not more than 20, waving the rainbow flag, cut a cake, and shouted the words “freedom” and“InquilabZindabad.”Asthey hugged, and a same-sex couple kissed, some pedestrians stopped and stared. But on Thursday, it didn’t matter. About 200 m away was a police patrol car that routinely patrols the neighbourhood each day. A member of the celebration pointed to it and said: “Today I am free, because that car, that sign of the Chhattisgarh Police does not scare me. Today I can stare at it proudly, and not walkpastwithmyeyeslowered. Today, I am not a criminal.” That sentiment was echoed earlier in the day when the verdictcame,whenagroupof 10 people sat in front of the TV at a government Social Welfare Department hostel, watching channelscuttoimagesof groups of fifty, hundred, even 500 people waving rainbow flags in Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi,makingtheirvoicesheard. As they glanced around the room, each knew that in Raipur, they were only ten. Their sense of belonging had been hard fought, in fierce battles in both theprivateandpublicspace.And then at 11.30 am, came the verdict. THE EDITORIAL PAGE THE PEOPLE READING THE ORDERS EXPLAINED, WHAT NEXT A SOARING MOMENT: VICTORY FOR INDIVIDUAL, MINORITY RIGHTS, PAGE 12 THOSE WHO SCRIPTED HISTORY: PETITIONERS & THEIR COUNSEL, PAGE 7 HOW ALL JUDGES AGREED BUT EACH HAD A KEY ARGUMENT, PAGE 9 COURT’S NEW MANTRA: CONSTITUTIONAL MORALITY, PAGE 11 KCR dissolves Telangana Assembly, EC looks at polls with four others SHUBHAJIT ROY SREENIVAS JANYALA & RITIKA CHOPRA NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 6 WORLD, P14 CONTINUEDONPAGE2 SUPREME VERDICT 2+2 talks: India-US sign key defence deal, talk visa and terror Two Russians named in Skripal poisoning: UK “At 11.15, I was a criminal. At 11: 30, I’m free. It’s been a long time coming,”saidVidya Rajput, one of the most prominent transgender rights activists in Chhattisgarh. “There is a long waytogo.Buttoday,maybeeven peoplein small towns andstates will wake up and realise that we too are people, and we deserve to live and love.” Like Indranee Kalita. She is patient while spelling out her surname. “It’s K-A-L-I, like the goddess, with T-A following it,” she says. She knows that most non-Assamese are unfamiliar with this surname. “I don’t think my name will ever appear in print again,” laughs Kalita. Maybe, the 25-year-old queer activist from Tezpur is right. Away from the media STRENGTHENING STRATEGIC cooperation, India and the US Thursday signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) which paves the way for transferof communicationsecurity equipment from the US to Indiathatwillfacilitate“interoperability”betweentheirforces— and potentially with other militariesthatuseUS-originsystems for secured data links. The pact was inked after the first 2+2 dialogue between the two countries, where External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met visiting Americancounterparts,Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan. Whiletherearemorethan50 bilateral dialogue mechanisms between the two governments, this is the highest level of engagement after the summitlevel engagement between the Prime Minister and the US President. A joint statement said, “They welcomed the signing of a Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that will facilitate access CONTINUEDONPAGE2 HYDERABAD, NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 6 CONFIDENT OF returning to power and to avoid a possible clubbing of Assembly polls with Lok Sabha elections, Telangana Chief MinisterKChandrashekhar Rao Thursday chose to dissolve the Assembly and seek a fresh mandate. The decision brings the curtains down on the first elected governmentinTelanganawhere the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), of which Rao is the founder president, has 82 membersinthe120-strongAssembly. Rao handed over a resolution to dissolve the Assembly to GovernorESLNarasimhan,who accepted the decision and asked Rao to continue as caretaker CM. The Election Commission, in all likelihood, will hold Telangana elections along with Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram, where polls are due later this year. Sources said the EC is logistically prepared for conducting elections in Telangana in NovemberDecember. “Availability of voting machines and deployment of adequate security forces will not be a problem. As for the electoral roll, there is a provision under CONTINUEDONPAGE2 MAHARASHTRA, P 4 Kadam apologises, police seek legal opinion
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