New Delhi: A “historical opportunity” has been lost to expand constitutional values, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Indira Jaising today said reacting to the Supreme Court verdict holding gay sex as a punishable offence.
Lending her support to gay rights activists, the ASG said the penal provision for homosexuality is a reflection of “medieval mindset” and raised question as to why the bench put the ball in the court of legislature to decide on the issue when so many other matters and policies are being reviewed by the apex court.
“Historical opportunity to expand constitutional values has been lost,” Jaising said, adding “It is surprising that the court, which does judicial review on many issues, has put the ball in the court of Parliament to decide on homosexuality.”
During the arguments in the case before the apex court, the Centre had supported decriminalisation of gay sex, saying the anti-gay law in the country had resulted from British colonialism and the Indian society was much more tolerant towards homosexuality.
Soon after the verdict was pronounced in a jam-packed court room, there was a gloom and dejection among scores of gay rights activists who said they will seek review of the order after going through the verdict.
Reacting to the verdict, gay rights activist Pallav Patankar, said, “We are back into the dungeon all over again”.
“Considering that this judgement is coming just a day after Human Rights Day, I think its a bad reflection on the state of things to come in this country. I am really not happy about it…
“We will fight on and we will labour on because the fight is not over yet. I think the international community as well as others are there to see what is happening in the country and I think we need to think where we exactly are going,” he said.
“I think the ball was already put in the Union of India’s court. They refused to discuss about it and thats why they (NGO, Naz Foundation) went to the judicial route. I just think they are procrastinating the decision… If it is going to Union of India then again it is a procrastinating discussion,” he said.
Commenting on the apex court’s judgement, a gay person from Mumbai who came to the national capital in view of the verdict, said, “The court has challenged my fundamental rights. I have right to be who I am.”
Another gay rights activist, Shovini Ghosh, expressed her “shock” over the apex court verdict, saying it is “completely unsatisfactory”.
“The Delhi High Court had given unprecedented protection to all the minorities. We are going to plan our strategy. This is a movement which should go on, we are not going to give up. I will first challenge the idea that the religious group can dictate something in a secular country.
“I will not go by what they say. All kinds of criminal acts, like demolition of Babri Masjid was done by religious groups… I think government has actually changed its position from what it had said during the hearing that it stands enlightened in light of the Delhi High Court verdict,” she said.