In 2009 in a landmark case, the Delhi High Court challenged the constitutionality of India’s anti-sodomy law, Section 377. The results have catapulted India into a stronger gay rights movement. Out & Around met with Aditya Bondyopadhyay, a leading attorney on the legal team that constructed the case. Aditya now spends most of his time training attorneys across India on LGBT rights.
Out & Around: Tell us about your work leading up to the decriminalization of homosexuality in 2009.
Aditya: I worked on the case beginning in 2001. The case became a focus of mobilization for LGBT activists. Earlier, people were doing their own things due to geography in this country being so vast. What the case really did was unite groups across India by way of a national movement. We had a common enemy, 377. We had the focus of everyone’s energy. We had huge national consultations around the case. We got strategic instead of impulsively working out of anger and pain.
Out & Around: What was the moment like for you when you won?
Aditya: My partner and I had been together for 8 years. He wanted to come with me to court. There was a huge crowd of people waiting for the decision. I was with the lawyers up front. When the judgement was announced, I cried. This was the only time I cried in court. I couldn’t help it. The whole room just erupted into this boisterous joy. Everyone was screaming and hugging one another. It was just like a dam bursting. A truly joyous moment. After 150 years of criminalisation and 8 years of fighting, we were no longer criminals in our own land.
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