What MARPs Advocates Can Learn from India's Success

Published: November 4, 2010

On July 2, 2009 the Delhi High Court annulled the law criminalizing adult homosexual relations with a ten year prison term. Section 377 as it was known was a section of the Indian Penal Code left over from British imperial rule. In subsequent years s377 had been used to persecute LGBT people and silence their human rights defenders. It had massively stifled HIV efforts in the country, making volunteers and outreach workers vulnerable to police harassment and arrest. It had been used to extort money from men who have sex with men and had forced them underground, adding to the difficulties of undertaking effective HIV prevention education for gay and other men who have sex with men and transgendered people. The Naz Foundation India Trust along with India’s Lawyers Collective and other community advocates and groups worked for eight years for the decision that finally came on the 2nd July.

The main focus of the Naz Foundation India Trust petition was to challenge the law on the ground that it violated the health rights now considered by the Courts to be covered under the fundamental rights to life as given in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Indian activist and lawyer Aditya Bandopadhyay expressed the collective joy and hopes for the future of those advocates when he told the BBC "we are elated. I think what now happens is that a lot of our fundamental civil rights which were denied to us can now be reclaimed by us."

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