Women lawyers who helped overturn Section 377 come out as a couple

New Delhi: The last year’s historic verdict by the Supreme Court to decriminalise homosexuality had not just been a professional benchmark but also a personal win for two senior women lawyers who spearheaded the fight for equal rights of the LGBTQ community in the country.

In a recent interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, almost a year after the landmark judgment, advocates Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju opened up that they are indeed a couple.

“The loss in 2013 was a loss as lawyers, a loss as citizens, but also a personal loss. It is not nice to be a criminal who has to go back to the court as a lawyer to argue other cases,” said Guruswamy referring to the apex court’s 2013 verdict that upheld Section 377, the colonial-era law that criminalised gay sex.

“It was extremely difficult,” said Katju. “The court where we practised, where we both were lawyers, this court had just said gay people were second class citizens.”

The couple hoped the judgment would play a big part in giving a boost to similar movements in the other countries that share a similar history of British colonialism as India’s.

“I think the Indian Supreme Court judgment plays a big part... as many of the former colonies have sodomy laws because of our shared history of British colonialism,” Katju said, noting the activists in Sri Lanka and Malaysia are now looking at how this judgment could be used to overturn anti-gay laws in their own countries.

Reconsidering its 2013 order, the SC’s 5-judge bench, headed by former CJI Dipak Misra on September 6 last year, overturned a 157-year-old law. Katju and Guruswamy were among the leading lawyers who orchestrated the campaign for equal rights of the LGBTQs.

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