Big brands bring out their creativity, support LGBT movement amidst Supreme Court ruling on Section 377

Friday, Dec 13, 2013, 21:12 IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA Web Team

Vishal Manve

The Supreme Court on Wednesday pronounced its verdict on a bunch of petitions challenging the Delhi High Court judgement decriminalising gay sex among consenting adults in private. dna takes a look at all the brands and the messages conveyed in support of the LGBT community.
– DNA Web Team

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of India took a regressive step and upheld Section 377 of IPC that legalises consensual relations between homosexual people. This law was called unconstitutional and referred to the Parliament for further citation.

Members of the community expressed shock and betrayal over this criminalisation as they could not believe that a law that was passed in 2009 would be repealed pushing them back into the ‘closet existence’.

While many celebrities and politicians expressed their ire followed by the civil society, even brands had a story to tell quite creatively. we take a look here:

1. Amul

Amul is known for taking up current affairs and issues as part of its campaign-advertisements.

Sticking true to taking a stand, Amul shows its mascot, ‘Amul girl’ bidding adieu to freedom of choice.


2. Tanishq

Tanishq had garnered a ‘thumbs up’ for its advertisement featuring a woman getting remarried.

Now, sticking true to its earlier stand, Tanishq reiterates its stand on ‘Free choice to right’ with this poster. Extremely vocal about gay rights, this ad is a winner promoting the jewellery brand while standing for a cause.


3. Fastrack

Known to focus on the ‘youth brigade’, fast track has really outdone itself with this campaign.

The brand had created similar posters after the High Court verdict and decided to be vocal about the #SEC377 of IPC and human rights with two posters.

-Taking the quote ‘Come out of the closet’ quite literally.




4. Collezioni Moda

Lifestyle and accessories brand Collezioni Moda strongly protested against Supreme Court’s decision by releasing a poster with a strong message that was a paraphrasing of the title, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’


5.Random House India

Leading English-language book publisher Random House questioned the validity of Supreme Court’s judgement by featuring Benjamin Law’s book Gaysia and asking people for their opinion on the judgement.


6. Poster by Jawaharlal Nehru university’s students

A poster depicting an altered national emblem where two lions are seen ‘Kissing’ while the third one is expressing shock was applauded by Twitter users.

Even ‘Satyamev Jayate’ has been changed to ‘state of love,’ to convey the message strongly.

satyamev jayate

7. Allen Solly

A two-decade old men’s fashion brand Allen Solly came out in support of the gay community with a strong poster.


8. Night-club KittySu

The night-club KittySu posted a tweet along with an image in support of the LGBT community.


9. Simply Potatoes

Simply Potatoes, an initiative by WTF hospitality also supported the LGBT community with a cutesy poster featuring two potatoes and caption, ‘Love needs no law’. Kudos!


10. Hidesign

Indian luxury brand Hidesign supported repealing of section 377 with this poster strongly.



Shopping portal came out with a coupon that will deduct a total of Rs 337 INR from the final bill.

This probably was a strong way of passing the message against Supreme courts judgement criminalising gay sex.


Author’s take: After the Supreme Court upheld the Delhi High Court’s judgement against section 377, social media has been buzzing with protests such as, ‘gay for a day’ and twitter has been buzzing with hashtags, #377, #GayRights #SCHearing amongst others.

People have pro-actively taken to expressing their dissent over the decision. So, when established and new brands entered the fray by supporting the cause, it shows the general public sentiment.

A sad day for India and for the world: American LGBT organisation All Out


Thursday, Dec 12, 2013, 13:30 IST | Place: Washington, DC | Agency: IANS

A top American LGBT organisation with a membership of more than a million, described the Supreme Court’s decision as “a sad day for India and for the world”.

Expressing concern over the Indian Supreme Court’s ruling restoring the ban on gay sex, the US has expressed its opposition to “any action that criminalises consensual same-sex conduct between adults”.

“The United States places great importance on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people and that includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons around the world,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday.

Noting that Secretary of State John Kerry had made a reference to LGBT persons in his statement on human rights day, she said: “We oppose any action that criminalizes consensual same-sex conduct between adults.”

“LGBT rights are human rights,” Psaki said. “That’s something you’ve heard Secretary Kerry say, I believe Secretary (Hillary) Clinton say before him, and we call on all governments to advance equality for LGBT individuals around the world.”

Asked if the US was planning to reach out to the Indian government to convey its views on the issue, she said: “We are in regular touch about these issues and others with India.”

On its expectations of steps from the Indian Government or whether the US would encourage India to repeal the law, the spokesperson said: “That’s a decision that the Indian government would make.”

“We obviously don’t make decisions on behalf of other governments and their legislation. So I expressed our deep concern about any efforts around the world to not recognize that LGBT rights are human rights, and that’s a message we’ll continue to convey.”

The spokesperson was not sure whether the issue was discussed with the visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, but sources said Senator Mark Warner, Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, did refer to it during a meeting with her Wednesday.

Meanwhile, All Out, a top American LGBT organisation with a membership of more than a million, described the Supreme Court’s decision as “a sad day for India and for the world”.

“No one should have to go to jail because of who they are or who they love. We stand in solidarity with India’s human rights community,” said Joe Mirabella, director of communications.

“Today’s ruling is a setback,” said Sapna Pandya, president of the Washington based Khush DC, an organisation of South Asian gay community.

“But it doesn’t take away from the fact that the recent past has seen promise for LGBTQ rights in not just India, but also other South Asian countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal,” she said.

“We stand in solidarity with the brave activists in South Asia and worldwide who have taken such huge leaps in recent years and know they will continue the fight for equality in spite of the disappointment we all feel today,” Pandya said.


What does Section 377 of IPC criminalize?

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court, while re-criminalizing gay sex by upholding the constitutional validity of Section 377 of IPC, unsuccessfully searched for a “uniform test” to classify acts as ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ which attracts a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya scanned through judgments from 1925 till date and failed to find any uniform norm to classify what constituted the core of Section 377.

It noticed that in all these cases, there was absence of ‘consent’ and the sexual act was forced on the victim. “In our opinion, the acts which fall within the ambit of the section can only be determined with reference to the act itself and the circumstances in which it is executed,” the bench said.

“All the aforementioned cases refer to non-consensual and markedly coercive situations and the keenness of the court in bringing justice to the victims who were either women or children cannot be discounted while analyzing the manner in which the section has been interpreted. We are apprehensive of whether the court would rule similarly in a case of proved consensual intercourse between adults. Hence, it is difficult to prepare a list of acts which would be covered by the section,” it said.

In the case ‘Govindarajula In re. (1886) 1 Weir 382’, the court had held that “inserting penis in the mouth would not amount to an offence under Section 377”. The same view was reiterated in detail in Khanu vs Emperor (AIR 1925 Sind 286).

In a 1934 case, the Lahore high court in Khanu vs Emperor had held that “carnal intercourse with a bullock through nose is an unnatural offence punishable under Section 377 of Indian Penal Code”.

The apex court also cited a case dealt by Gujarat High Court in 1968, where two men first unsuccessfully attempted to sodomize a boy and then forced him to perform oral sex and ejaculated in the boy’s mouth.

The Gujarat HC had said, “It is true that the theory that sexual intercourse is only meant for the purpose of conception is an outdated theory. But at the same time, it could be said without any hesitation of contradiction that the orifice of mouth is not, according to nature, meant for sexual or carnal intercourse. Viewing from that aspect, it could be said that this act of putting a male-organ in the mouth of a victim for the purposes of satisfying sexual appetite would be an act of carnal intercourse against the order of nature.”

In 1969, the Kerala high court in the case ‘State of Kerala vs Kundumkara’ had ruled that “committing intercourse between the thighs of another is carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and the act fell within the ambit of Section 377.

In the 1992 judgment of the Orissa high court in the case ‘Calvin Francis vs Orissa’, the man was found to have inserted his genital into the mouth of a six-year-old girl. The HC had ruled that the “act complained of was punishable under Section 377”.

Dhananjay Mahapatra,TNN | Dec 12, 2013, 02.15 AM IST


Supreme Court upholds Section 377 criminalizing homosexual sex


New Delhi: In a blow to gay rights in India, the Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned a high court verdict that had set aside a law framed in 1860 and decriminalized consensual sex among adult homosexual men.

At the same time, the apex court put the ball in the government’s court, arguing that it was free to annul the law through legislation. The verdict was pronounced by justice G.S. Singhvi, who retired on Wednesday.

In 2009, the Delhi high court had ruled that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalizes sex between adult homosexual men, was unconstitutional.
While the government did not appeal the high court decision, a challenge on the grounds of public morality was filed by groups of religious bodies and individuals, including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, the Apostolic Churches Alliance and the Utkal Christian Council.

Activists and lawyers who were blindsided by the apex court’s judgement condemned it even as conservative voices welcomed it.

Gay rights activist Ashok Row Kavi described the ruling as an “earth shattering verdict”.
Anjali Gopalan, founder and executive director of Naz Foundation, the non-governmental organization (NGO) that filed a lawsuit in the Delhi high court in 2001, said, “We have been set back by a hundred years. The ruling tells us what we are as a people. The whole process is reflective of the mindsets of those who have passed the judgment. It is bizarre, pathetic and sad.”

The judgement said: “We hold that Section 377 IPC does not suffer from the vice of unconstitutionality and the declaration made by the Division Bench of the High court is legally unsustainable.”

Justifying its ruling, it said, “The High Court overlooked that a miniscule fraction of the country’s population constitute lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders and in last more than 150 years, less than 200 persons have been prosecuted for committing offence under Section 377.”

Noting that despite recommendations for amendment, Parliament has retained the law, the decision says, “This shows that Parliament, which is undisputedly the representative body of the people of India, has not thought it proper to delete the provision. Such a conclusion is further strengthened by the fact that despite the decision of the Union of India to not challenge in appeal the order of the Delhi High Court, the Parliament has not made any amendment in the law.”

It, however, left the door open for the executive to bring the necessary amendments to the law.

“Notwithstanding this verdict, the competent legislature shall be free to consider the desirability and propriety of deleting Section 377 IPC from the statute book or amend the same as per the suggestion made by the Attorney General,” the order said.

Experts say any legal recourse will be very difficult. A review of the decision, if sought, is unlikely to reverse it as the matter will then be considered by the same bench—except that another judge will replace Justice Singhvi. A lawyer who represented some of the original petitioners said that even if the matter is heard afresh, the Supreme Court ruling will operate as a precedent, which will weaken the matter from the start.

Anand Grover, lawyer for Naz in the matter, however, sounded defiant. “I am extremely disappointed with the judgement. The Supreme Court has taken 21 months to tell the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons that they are criminals in the eyes of the law. The movement for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) equality is unstoppable, rooted as it is in the dignity and resilience of the LGBT persons. We will be filing a review of the present decision as soon as it is available,” he said.

By this decision, the court has failed to recognize people’s internationally protected right to privacy and non-discrimination, said Meenakshi Ganguly, Human Rights Watch South Asia Director.

While rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said the judgement “doesn’t do justice to a liberal society like ours”, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said, “We have to abide by the decision”.

Amod Kanth, general secretary of Prayas, an NGO working for children’s welfare, who was one of the petitioners against the Delhi high court verdict, welcomed the apex court’s order.

IPC, drafted by the politician and historian Lord Thomas Macaulay in British India, criminalized homosexuality as per prevalent Victorian values.

However, while Indian statute books continue to criminalize homosexual sex, Britain reformed its law by the Sexual Offences Act 1967 and de-criminalized homosexuality and acts of sodomy between consenting adults—something noted by the high court.

Mrinal Satish, associate professor at the National Law University, Delhi, said, “Section 377 is inspired by the 18th century Victorian morality which believed that procreation is the only purpose of sex. The 20th century thought process is far removed from such retrograde beliefs and ideas.”

In the four years since the high court verdict, the gay community in India, granted equal rights by the law, has become more mainstream. Consequently, activists believe the Supreme Court order turns the clock back.

Mumbai-based journalist Vikram Doctor said, “Many young people who came of age in this period came out quite naturally, without thinking of being in the closet. And it was across classes—many poor LGBT people were the ones who suffered most from prejudice because they didn’t have the safety that money buys. They were the ones really empowered by the Delhi high court decision.”

Meenakshi Lekhi, a Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson and Supreme Court lawyer, said: “We welcome the decision of the court because it is important that Section 377 remains. It is not only women who can be exploited and harassed but men also get exploited so there is a need for a law to protect men too.

“If there is a law to protect women, how can there not be a law to protect men? What happens between people inside their homes is not being questioned but if there is a victim then the complaint should be addressed. Delhi has seen incidents where homosexuals have been attacked and killed. In 2004, two homosexual men were murdered in Delhi, so this law is needed so men are not harassed,” said Lekhi.

Within hours of the Supreme Court ruling, protesters gathered at Jantar Mantar in central Delhi to demand back the rights of the LGBT community.

A giant rainbow flag, hanging from a neem tree, formed the backdrop at the allotted venue in Delhi’s protest square.

Explaining why he was chanting Humko chahiye azadi (we want freedom), Dipankar Dey, a law intern, said, “I’m here because I’m gay and this ruling affects me. Now if I have sex with my boyfriend, I can be arrested by the police.” Invoking an iconic gay American politician, the young intern said, “It’s time to move beyond activism. We need action. We need a Harvey Milk.”

Standing alone wearing a black bandana, Jasmine, who works in an NGO and chose to give only her first name, said, “I’m one of the allies of the LGBT community and today I’m disappointed and disgusted. But we have come so far, so close to the real freedom, that now we cannot afford to go back.”

Nobody at Jantar Mantar seemed prepared to go back into the closet—though some had their faces covered with scarves to avoid being photographed.

Protesters held up placards with slogans like ‘We are not criminals’ and ‘Nelson Mandela was on our side’.

Journalist Lesley Esteves, one of the pioneers of Delhi’s gay movement, shook her head, saying, ‘This is terrible”.

Watching the protesters, Dev Sanyal, a supporter of the Aam Aadmi Party which held a victory celebration nearby, said, “What these people are demanding is against nature, against religion. We cannot support them.”

Jostling amid a pressing crowd of TV journalists, Raja Bagga, a law researcher said, “Although legal sanction to gay sex is symbolic, it means that you are on the law’s right side, and this is a safeguard against potential harassment. In today’s judgment, the court hasn’t outright rejected our rights but it has asked us to go to the Parliament. Technically the judges might not be faulted, but they did have the power to address minority rights on their own.”

Elizabeth Roche, Gyan Varma, Mayank Austen Soofi, Seema Chowdhry, Nikita Mehta, Sanjukta Sharma and PTI contributed to this story.

First Published: Wed, Dec 11 2013. 09 06 AM IST

13th Dec., ’13: DushyantPriya

Dushyantapriya -2 Act Marathi Play

Language : Marathi

Duration : 2 hrs

Genre : Drama

“Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field! I will meet you there”, says the 13th century poet Rumi. Taking the same line of thought and attempting to break boundaries of conventions of love, marriage and gender stereotypes, Dushantapriya is an inspiration from Kalidasas Sanskrit play Abhigyan Shakuntalam written by Sarang Bhakre.

Fri 13 Dec 2013
Damodar Hall: Parel
N. M. Joshi Vidya Sankul, Dr. B. A. Rd., Parel, 400012,

Ticket Price Rs. 150 – Rs. 200

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A review by Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik: Beloved of Dushyant