World

Two women lawyers who helped overturn Section 377 came out as couple

ANI | July 20, 2019 05:07 PM
advocates Menaka Guruswamy (L) and Arundhati Katju

New Delhi [India], July 20 (ANI): The last year's historic verdict by the Supreme Court to decriminalise homosexuality had not just been a professional benchmark but also a personal win for two senior women lawyers who spearheaded the fight for equal rights of the LGBTQ community in the country.

In a recent interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, almost a year after the landmark judgement, advocates Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju opened up that they are indeed a couple.

"The loss in 2013 was a loss as lawyers, a loss as citizens, but also a personal loss. It is not nice to be a criminal who has to go back to the court as a lawyer to argue other cases," said Guruswamy referring to the apex court's 2013 verdict that upheld Section 377, the colonial-era law that criminalised gay sex.

"It was extremely difficult," said Katju. "The court where we practised, where we both were lawyers, this court had just said that gay people were second class citizens"

The couple hoped that the judgement would play a big part in giving a boost to similar movements in the other countries that share a similar history of British colonialism as India's.

"I think the Indian Supreme Court judgement plays a big part... because many of these former colonies have sodomy laws because of our shared history of British colonialism," said Katju

Katju noted that the activists in Sri Lanka and Malaysia are now looking at how this judgement could be used to overturn anti-gay laws in their own countries.

Reconsidering its 2013 verdict, the SC's five-judge Constitution bench, headed by former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra on September 6 last year, overturned a 157-year-old law.

Katju and Guruswamy were among the leading lawyers who orchestrated the campaign for equal rights of the LGBTQ community. Following the judgement, the couple even made it to the Time Magazine's list of 100 Most Influential People 2019.

Their story was well received in various sections of Indian society as well. Actor Priyanka Chopra, who last year made it to the 100 most powerful women, hailed the couple as 'beacons of hope.'

"Armed with a well-planned strategy that went beyond their well-researched legal arguments, Arundhati and Menaka became beacons of hope for the Indian LGBTQ+ community. Their perseverance and commitment led an entire community to a historic win by humanizing their struggles and giving them the freedom to love," Chopra wrote in the profile for TIME magazine. (ANI)

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