Parliament must act and react on Section 377
The debate over the Supreme Court judgment on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is not going to die anytime soon. More so because the media and a liberal society could ensure that the attention span on this issue is not short-lived. The LGBT community may not be a large vote bank, but it is quite active politically, which it should be.
It was therefore heartening to note that some members of the government on Thursday came out in support of repealing Section 377 and making the law equal for all members of society regardless of their sexual orientation. But for the law to be repealed, it would require an Act of Parliament, and for this, a united Lok Sabha is of paramount importance.
Which is why, the silence of the BJP, the leading opposition party, on Section 377, is deafening. The Congress Party, the leading constituent of the UPA government, has come out in support of the LGBT community and its rights. By re-criminalising their sexuality, the Supreme Court has given them the status of second-class citizens, and this is something that any self-respecting, equal-opportunity and promising society must oppose.
This follows the belief that the fundamental duty of a democratic government is to protect its citizens. With so many members of the LGBT community unable to join the mainstream — and therefore be possible subjects of police atrocities — the need for them to be treated as any other voter is important. All political parties must realise this soon and push for a change in the law in Parliament.
The Supreme Court has squarely put the responsibility of this on India’s top law-making body, and the Parliament must react. This is, after all, a human rights problem, not just a gay rights debate.