Keshav Suri is executive director of Delhi-based Lalit Suri Hospitality Group that operates the Lalit chain of hotels. Suri has been a champion for gay rights and has been one of the petitioners in Section 377 cases. In June this year, he got married to his long time partner Cyril Feuillebois in Paris. As the Supreme Court on Thursday strikes down Section 377 decriminalising sexual relations between consenting homesexual adults, Suri spoke to Mint on the landmark judgment and starting his new initiative to create awareness and empower the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community.
Q: You have been vocal about gay rights and have been one of the petitioners in Section 377 case. What is your reaction to this landmark verdict?
I wanted to scream, yell and shout. I’m esctatic. Today finally people like me ..the LGBTQ community are no longer in the fringe or in the darkness. We are finally out of the shadow. I’m very happy.
Q. What does the verdict mean for corporate India and would this bring in any change in their HR policies and benefits?
Many multinational companies have used Section 377 as an excuse not to hire people from the transgender community, not to provide sponsorships and other benefits. Now they don’t have that excuse anymore. In Lalit, we have inclusive HR policies including medical benefits. By the way, there is no law that stops companies from doing that. If there was one, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. It’s really that Section 377 was used as a harassment and discriminatory tool against LGBTQ. Now at least that excuse is gone.
Q.How do you plan to take the cause forward?
I’m actually starting my own foundation, Keshav Suri Foundation. It will be launched on 13th of October. Through this foundation, I’m actually working with It Gets Better project - an initiative started in USA. Its a platform for people from the community to give their coming out stories on social media or via videos so that children and young adults could see that life could get better because at some point a lot of people from the LGBTQ were committing suicide. Beyond that I’m also looking at skilling the LGBTQ youth specially the transgender people to be able to have the prerequisite skills and confidence for corporate jobs.