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LGBTs cheer SC’s refusal to stay gay sex order
NEW DELHI, JUL 20 (IANS):
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Published on 20 Jul. 2009 11:34 PM IST
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The rainbow community of the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) in the capital had another reason to cheer Monday when the Supreme Court refused to stay a Delhi High Court order that decriminalised consensual sex between adults of same gender. The order was challenged in the court by the clergy and religious leaders. Declining to stay the high court order, the Supreme Court asked the government to review the controversial section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which prohibits homosexuality, and file a report in eight weeks. Attorney-general G.E. Vahanvati said there was no need for a stay on the high court order at this moment. As the LGBT communities took to the streets with rainbow flags, banners and posters proclaiming “Proud to be Gay”, actress Celina Jaitley, who has been campaigning for gay rights, said: “The battle has just begun”. “So many laws have to be re-drafted and turned around because there are many communities who live in the shadows. It is ingrained in our culture because the transgender community of eunuchs has existed since centuries. The LGBT groups have to be part of our culture,” Jaitley said. The mood in the city was one of disbelief and euphoria - in fact, the LGBT community has been on a high since July 2 when the Delhi High Court read down section 377 of the IPC. “I don’t believe it,” exclaimed young gay rights activist Mohnish Kabir Malhotra. “I am glad that the honourable Supreme Court - the apex legal forum - has refused to stay the order. Humanity comes ahead of religion, caste, creed, sex and sexual orientation. Everybody in the eyes of the law has the right to equality. It’s the tool of the rationale. The ruling is a victory of human rights,” Malhotra told IANS. In one of the biggest LGBT parties at the hip night-spot Manre in Saket this weekend, Delhi opened its arms to the ‘queer folks’. They walked in like any ordinary party-goers, dressed in the latest fashions and mingled with their ‘straight counterparts’ talking shop and jiving to rollicking DJ music. Members of the community, most of whom refused to be identified by names, danced till the wee hours of the morning. The party was organised by the liquor giant Pernod Ricard to promote its Absolut vodka brand. And it was endorsed by the capital’s “party-loving” LGBT community. “In an Absolut world, individuals are diverse and equal. The party is a celebration of that,” said Bikram Basu, vice-president of Pernod Ricard. “It is a very good platform to promote groups with alternative sexual orientations. I am glad that the company has taken the initiative to bring the LGBT groups out of the closet. The LGBT groups are in no way different from others. I am happy Delhi is waking up to the fact,” said Amit Sen (name changed), a professor of personality development at a college affiliated to the Indraprastha University. Sen was at the party sipping vodka and gorging on spicy starters with a “male friend”. Delhi-based fashion stylist Edward described the party as a milestone. “It’s amazing for an upend restaurant to host such a party. Hopefully, it will go far. Earlier, members of the LGBT groups were scared to come out, but the Delhi High Court judgment has changed it all,” said the petite boy with spiked hair, toying with his glass of vodka. A lesbian couple from Israel, who has made India their home for the past six years, was relieved that “India was doing it at last.” “We have been a couple for the last 13 years and it is such fun to chill out with everyone, finally,” said the fashion designer duo, who live in Paharganj. After all, “everybody is equal in the eyes of god,” signed off Malhotra.

 
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