Decriminalise homosexuality: IITians

Days after Keshav Suri, who runs the Lalit group of hotels, approached the Supreme Court seeking that gay sex be decriminalised, a batch of 20 current and former students of IITs has filed a petition in the court saying criminalisation of their sexual orientation has resulted in a sense of shame, loss of self-esteem, and stigma.

The petitioners included scientists, teachers, entrepreneurs and researchers belonging to different age groups. The youngest is a 19-year-old IIT-Delhi student while the oldest graduated in 1982. “Despite being amongst the brightest minds in the country, having graduated from top institutions with the best possible opportunities available in terms of career, they are nevertheless criminalised by the archaic colonial provision in Section 377 and deprived of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution,” the plea said.

The petition was filed on behalf of the LGBT alumni association of IITs, comprising more than 350 members. Most of the petitioners, including two women and a transwoman, are recent passouts from IITs.

Ruling that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is “deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of an individual”, the apex court had earlier agreed to examine the constitutional validity of Section 377 of CrPC criminalising gay sex.

Claiming that they face a harrowing time in society due to their sexual orientation, the IITians, in their petition, said, “As a result, several of the petitioners have had to grapple with depression, self-harm and other mental health issues, including even suicidal thoughts and attempts, all of which have had a very deleterious effect on their academic and career prospects.” They said unlike heterosexuals, they had been deprived of opportunities to freely seek love and companionship with partners of their choice, denying them “an essential and immutable aspect” of their right to life. “The stigma, silence and violence that Section 377 brings in its wake deeply hurts their professional promise and personal fulfilment. It has subject many of them to mental trauma and illness that they continue to grapple with. Section 377 has contributed to the brain drain of LGBT alumni, including some petitioners, from IITs,” the petition said.

“The silence of our legislative wing and its ineffectiveness to even consider debating the need for the existence of this law is shameful to say the least,” the plea said.

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