New Delhi: The Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday that held the right to privacy is a fundamental right recognizes a new ground which lights the way to future judgements on the controversial Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes homosexuality.
The court in its judgement said, “It is an individual’s choice as to who enters his house, how he lives and in what relationship. The privacy of the home must protect the family, marriage, procreation and sexual orientation, which are all important aspects of dignity."
The debate on Section 377, marked by demands by LGBT and human rights activists to decriminalize homosexuality, is set to be revived by Thursday’s judgement.
Anand Grover, lawyer at Naz foundation, an NGO working for the rights of the LGBT community, said, “The ruling will certainly impact the future course of decisions on Section 377 that criminalizes homosexuality since it was not considered by the courts earlier. The right of personal choices including sexual orientation has today been recognised."
With Thursday’s ruling, the Supreme Court has widened the realm of the right to privacy to include all sorts of personal choices. These include an individual’s choice to travel, to reside and to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. It also protects various aspects of an individual’s intimate life, including their sexual orientation.
A violation of any of these can now be challenged in a court of law since the protection of the right by elevating it to be a fundamental right is much greater.
“The judgement basically says that the aspects of life, dignity and morality are to be understood as a part of liberty that we have. These restrictions, like in any other fundamental right, will have to pass the test of law and reasonability. The judgement argues against arbitrariness," said Manisha Priyam, a New Delhi-based political analyst.
“It is a revolutionary judgement and is building upon the normative as well as substantive directions under the right to life and liberty."