December 2013: The LGBTQ community suffers a significant blow when the supreme court overturns the Delhi high court’s judgment, saying section 377 “does not suffer from the vice of unconstitutionality and the declaration made by the division bench of the high court is legally unsustainable.”
June 2016: Navtej Singh Johar, an award-winning Indian classical dancer, filed a writ petition in the supreme court challenging section 377.
August 2017: A nine-judge supreme court bench said, “Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy. Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual,” raising the hopes of those campaigning against section 377.
July 2018: A five-judge bench of the supreme court, including chief justice Dipak Misra, begins hearing the petitions filed by Johar and others against section 377. While supporters of the law claim the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and the disintegration of India’s social fabric as reasons to retain it, many of the justices make encouraging comments. “It is not an aberration but a variation,” justice Indu Malhotra says.
A central government affidavit leaves the decision on the section’s constitutionality to the court’s wisdom. The supreme court decides to reserve its verdict.
September 2018: In a unanimous verdict, the supreme court decides to scrap section 377, which chief justice Misra describes as “irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary,” marking a triumphant end to a lengthy struggle for justice.
The 2018 judgement also mentioned that History owes an apology to the members of this community and their families, for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries. The members of this community were compelled to live a life full of fear of reprisal and persecution. This was on account of the ignorance of the majority to recognise that homosexuality is a completely natural condition, part of a range of human sexuality. The mis-application of this provision denied them the Fundamental Right to equality. It infringed the Fundamental Right to non-discrimination, and the Fundamental Right to live a life of dignity and privacy. The LGBT persons deserve to live a life unshackled from the shadow of being ‘unapprehended felons’.