Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], September 9: The Humsafar Trust (HST) recently, commemorated the fifth anniversary of the historic reading down of Section 377 with a vibrant gathering of community members, friends and allies in Mumbai. This significant milestone was achieved through the landmark judgment in September 2018 by the Supreme Court of India in the case of Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India. The Humsafar Trust and its senior management were also one of the petitioners against Section 377. Since that transformative ruling, there has been a surge in petitions advocating for Marriage Equality Rights. Presently, the Supreme Court is deliberating on the inclusion of marriage equality for LGBTQ+ individuals, and including same-sex marriage, under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
To shed light on the ongoing proceedings and discuss future expectations, a panel discussion was organised with 6 Petitioners which was moderated by the HST Director of Research, Alpana Dange. Advocate Kartikeya Bahadur, Consultant Lawyer for The Humsafar Trust, emphasized the importance of legal unions in terms of protection and rights.
Noted filmmakers Sridhar Rangayan & Saagar Gupta shared their personal journeys of transparency with their families regarding their identities and relationships, which further facilitated social change through their work.
Dr Roop Gursahani & Neil Pate addressed the legal challenges to the right to health and introduced the concept of living will in India, while also highlighting the absence of provisions for same-sex partners to make medical decisions on behalf of one another and the belief that everyone is entitled to marriage. Dr. Surabhi Mitra recounted how her partner instilled confidence in her to openly advocate for queer rights, leading them to sign the petition. Suhail Abbasi, Chairperson - INFOSEM, spoke passionately about the importance of equal rights for everyone, and how 120 community-based organizations made up the petition from The India Network for Sexual Minorities (INFOSEM), thus reaffirming that LGBTQ+ individuals are not a minuscule minority.
Vivek Raj Anand, CEO of The Humsafar Trust, stated, "The reading down of Section 377 was just one of the hurdles that the LGBTQ+ community fought and won. The fight is not just for legal recognition but societal acceptance as well. The fight for equal rights continues and will persist until the community's rights are fully realized, and they can stand proudly in this country without fear of stigma and discrimination."
Murugesan Sivasubramanian, the Technical Director of NETREACH, added, "We are looking forward to a positive judgment on the same-sex marriage equality rights from the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India that will have a positive impact on the lives of LGBTQ+ communities. Equal access to healthcare and partner benefits that apply to all citizens will become a reality and facilitate better service delivery and access."
The evening was concluded with a cake-cutting ceremony and with the launch of 'Mumbai Queer Pride' a collective of various LGBTQ+ organisations that will be hosting the next Pride in the city.
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