In the judgment that revoked provision of Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalised consensual same-sex relationships in September this year, Justice Indu Malhotra wrote: “Members of the LGBT community and their family members are owed an apology from society for being denied equal rights over the years.”
The road to the sexual rights of the LGBTQ community being recognised in this country has been a bumpy one. The Delhi High Court (HC) had decriminalised homosexuality in 2009, saying that the colonial era law was incompatible with Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.
However, in 2013, the Supreme Court had overturned the HC, finding it “legally unsustainable”. Other challenges, however, remain.
There is no legal provision for same-sex marriages, LGBTQ couples or singles are still not allowed to adopt children, and discrimination at jobs, education and at homes is still too common.
In fact, even health care professionals have been accused of discrimination towards people from the community, at times classifying homosexuality as a mental health issue.
The road ahead is as much a legal route as a social one. While legal hurdles might now become relatively easier to overcome, deeply entrenched social prejudices are more difficult to combat. Only a society that fully embraces all sexual minorities can be expected to apologise in earnest.