Mumbai: Top LGBTQ activists in Mumbai on Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court verdict decriminalising gay sex amidst caution that “the real work will begin now”. Leading activist and gay rights campaigner Ashok Row Kavi said the “apex court verdict is very sensitive” to the rights of the LGBTQ while protecting minors and animals. “However, the real struggle begins to tackle the issues of mental and physical health of the LGBTQ, the high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases, tackling the very high rate of depression, nearly 60 per cent plus, rampant alcoholism and suicides especially among lesbians,” Kavi told IANS.
“The second stage is to see how the existing laws pertaining to marriage, divorce or adoptions would be applicable to the LGBTQs, who are prevalent in all religious communities,” said Kavi, Chairman of Humsafar Trust and Executive Editor of “Bombay Dost”, India’s first niche magazine for the LGBTQs. He assured that the Humsafar Trust is already preparing for it in earnest, especially since the LGBTQ comprises an estimated five per cent of the Indian population, a significant chunk. Another LGBTQ activist Harish Iyer termed the verdict as “very progressive and welcome, heralding the beginning of the end of discrimination”.
“Now, the big challenge will be opening the hearts and minds of the people towards the sexual minorities, getting their wholehearted acceptance to ensure reforms at all levels,” said Iyer, who grabbed headlines after becoming the first gay in the country seeking proposals for same-sex marriage in 2015. Another women’s rights campaigner feels that the verdict could be a boon and revolutionise the scenario for women who are the biggest sufferers and are shunned by society for their ‘same-sex’ preferences.
“Lesbians undergo huge torture in their public and private lives, many resort to excessive smoking, drinking or drugs, face several health issues and mental trauma, or fall into depression with nobody to confide in… We hope the SC judgement will be a big relief,” she said. Meanwhile, various NGOs, rights groups and LGBTQ organisations under the Humsafar Trust banner will take out a victory rally from Vakola to Kalina in Santacruz east later this evening to celebrate the apex court verdict.