India's supreme court granted the country's LGBTQ community the right to openly express their orientation. These rights are now protected under the Right to Privacy law. The decision reads:
“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. Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform.”
Although the supreme court did not have to turn over any laws of discrimination, the new interpretation of the Indian law protects LGBTQ identity beneath India's constitution. In the future, this can serve as a basis for organizations challenging discrimination in court. It can also help to fight Section 377, an oppressive which was upheld by a different supreme court panel in India in 2009. The law punishes "carnal intercourse against the order of nature."
In the court's most recent ruling, they said, "If there is one constitutional tenet that can be said to be [the] underlying theme of the Indian Constitution, it is that of inclusiveness." Most notably, they said, “Those perceived by the majority as ‘deviants’ or ‘different’ are not on that score excluded or ostracized.”
The decision in India will be felt globally.
More than 1.3 billion Indians are more free to express their identity. India's earlier laws against LGBTQ expression spread to countries elsewhere in Asia and into Africa. The idea of sexual orientation and gender nonconformity as a Western culture has hindered equality progress in these countries. The progress in India can hopefully spread elsewhere in the east to allow even more people the freedom of expression.
Prince Manvendra is helping to further LGBTQ rights in India.
Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil came out as gay in 2006, becoming the first openly gay prince in India. His platform has aided battles for equality in the country. He founded a campaign titled "Free Gay India", spoke about his fight on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and even appeared on an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. On the episode, he said, “I knew that my coming out would definitely make a difference. When people found out about me, they set up a bonfire and burned my effigies in it.”
The fight is not over in India.
For true equality, Section 337 must be overturned. However, it is looking more promising after the supreme court decision.