Posts Tagged 'India'

Global LGBT Rights Advocates Send Joint Letter to President Obama

Photo: Pete Souza

Photo: Pete Souza

A group of 24 leading LGBT rights advocates from every region of the world sent a joint letter to President Obama in late December asking him to stand with them in seeking fairness and equality. While applauding the President’s support, they noted inconsistencies in his Administration’s response to anti-LGBT laws that have been adopted recently in various countries. Without a more consistent approach, they pointedly asked President Obama: “How can we trust otherwise that the United States will, indeed, stand with us as we fight for our rights?

Recognizing that the response to harmful laws adopted in different countries may not be identical in every case, and that any response must be tailored to fit the country context, the advocates nonetheless asked that the United States respond, without fail and in whatever way is most appropriate, whenever another country adopts a new law or a national policy that denies fundamental rights to LGBT citizens.

Click here to read the full letter.

India’s Gay-Rights Movement Rises Up After Supreme Court Criminalizes Homosexuality

Repost from Time

A controversial Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday morning that reinstated an archaic colonial law criminalizing homosexuality incited outrage among activists and gay-rights supporters in India. Hundreds gathered at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi’s popular protest hub, to protest the ruling. A truly mixed crowd, many of the protesters were not from the LGBT community. They came in hordes from universities and colleges to champion civil liberties. “This is not about homosexuality but about democratic rights,” said Samita Raj, a 19-year-old student at the protest. “And the right to be.”

The mood at Jantar Mantar resembled a different moment last year, when the youth of India had congregated to demand justice for the gang rape and murder of a young medical intern. It was a comforting sign that from a fringe issue, India’s gay movement has become the subject of mainstream debate and mass support. “Today when I speak to young people in colleges, they say, ‘We know how you feel.’ And that’s a huge achievement for the movement,” Gautam Bhan, a 33-year-old gay-rights activist, told TIME. “The ruling cannot set aside the gains we have made in the last decade, especially after 2009.” The Supreme Court in Wednesday’s ruling had said that changing a law was the responsibility of the government.

Whether the Delhi High Court had overstepped its mandate four years back is a matter of debate. Its historic judgment in 2009, which decriminalized homosexuality in the country, was something of a watershed moment for gay rights in India. Many more young people had come out of the closet. Harish Iyer, a Mumbai-based equal-rights activist, says there was a more than 100% increase in people wanting to come out of the closet after 2009. Iyer says that before 2009 he used to receive around two distress calls a week from people wanting to come out. Now he receives around six calls a day. “What are you doing now? Pushing them right back in?” he asks. “It’s not going to work. People who are out will be out louder and stronger.”

The other surprising takeaway from the ruling was the unexpected show of solidarity from the Indian government. Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said the ruling flew in the face of a “modern liberal India.”

“The high court had wisely removed an archaic, repressive and unjust law that infringed on the basic human rights enshrined in our constitution,” Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said in a statement. “This constitution has given us a great legacy, a legacy of liberalism and openness, that enjoin us to combat prejudice and discrimination of any kind.”

Law Minister Kapil Sibal, after an initial noncommittal reaction, later tweeted that the government was considering its options to restore the 2009 verdict. “It gives us great hope,” says Anjali Gopalan, founder and executive director of the Naz Foundation, an Indian nonprofit that works on HIV-AIDS and sexual health, who had filed the original lawsuit in the Delhi High Court. “A lot of young people have come out of the closet post-2009. We can’t push them back in.”

While politicians and activists mull their options, India’s LGBT community is emerging stronger from the ruling. “We feel much emboldened by the fact that we are a heterogeneous crowd now,” says Iyer. “Also, what do we have to lose now? You have pushed me down so low that from here on I can only look upwards.”

Related Content:

The Times of India “Gay sex verdict: Govt considers options, Sonia disappointed with SC ruling” http://bit.ly/1iZqsG7

BBC News India “Indian media outrage over gay sex ruling” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-25344735

Aljezeera “India gay sex verdict sparks outrage”  http://aje.me/JjZiKo

Reuters “U.N.: Indian ban on gay sex violates international law” http://trib.in/1bZTWjd

The New York Times “For Gay Rights Advocates, Jubilation of Four Years Turns to Shock”  http://nyti.ms/1cEZPkn

India Supreme Court Upholds Sodomy Law

Repost from BuzzFeed by J. Lester Feder

The top court in the world’s second-largest nation says it’s up to parliament to decide on undoing the law criminalizing same-sex intercourse. This is “a major setback to LGBT rights,” says the legal group that brought the case. Updated with details from the written judgement.

After a 12 year legal battle, the Supreme Court of India overruled a lower court ruling striking down a law criminalizing consensual same-sex intercourse on Wednesday morning.

The Supreme Court has set aside the sweeping 2009 ruling of the Delhi High Court that struck down the sodomy law, known as Section 377, and referred the question to parliament.

The legal organization that brought the case, the Lawyers Collective, tweeted from the courtroom that this is a “major setback to LGBT rights.”

Since the Delhi High Court ruled the law unconstitutional in 2009, its enforcement has been suspended throughout India. Today’s ruling means people can once again be arrested and prosecuted for “unnatural offenses” in the world’s second largest nation. Continue Reading

LGBT Case Goes to Supreme Court in India

LGBT Case Goes to Supreme Court in India, Council for Global EqualityFebruary 17, 2012 – This week, as many of us celebrated Valentine’s Day with our loved ones, an important legal challenge moved forward in India that will impact the rights of same-sex couples in India and beyond.  The Supreme Court of India began hearings this week on appeals from the favorable Delhi High Court verdict in the Naz Foundation case of July 2009.  That landmark case found that India’s sodomy law, section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which was imposed under British colonial rule and then replicated in many other British colonies, violates both the Indian constitution and India’s human rights obligations.  In her powerful speech on the human rights of LGBT communities at the United Nations in Geneva in December, Secretary Clinton cited the Delhi High Court decision as global progress, quoting the court’s claim that “If there is one tenet that can be said to be an underlying theme of the Indian constitution, it is inclusiveness.” Continue reading ‘LGBT Case Goes to Supreme Court in India’

Human Rights Day 2010

A New Passage to India: Can the U.S. and India Forge a Human Rights Partnership on LGBT Rights?

By Arvind Narrain and Mark Bromley

President Obama described his journey to India last month as the dawn of “one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.”  And when confronted by human rights abuse, he reminded, “it is the responsibility of the international community—especially leaders like the United States and India—to condemn it.”

On this Human Rights Day (December 10), our countries should commit to a new partnership to protect those who are persecuted worldwide because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  This is the latest chapter in the modern human rights struggle, and in Obama’s words, it is time to “put aside old habits and attitudes.”

The United States and India are late in joining the struggle.  Our courts propelled us forward, through legal decisions in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 and in the High Court of Delhi in 2009 that invalidated homosexual sodomy laws in each country. We now have an opportunity to turn those legal battles into larger human rights commitments, and to use them to frame difficult dialogues with other countries that continue to oppress their LGBT citizens. Continue Reading


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