This week, the Indian Supreme Court restored a 19th-century ban criminalizing homosexuality. That law, Section 377, was deemed unconstitutional by a lower court in 2009, but Wednesday's unexpected reversal placed the nation's gay community in fear of being harassed or arrested by police.
"Yesterday set us 10 years back — now we are criminals," said Samuel "Shyam" Konnur, the senior coordinator of the LGBT activist group Payana and the organizer of Wednesday’s protest outside Bangalore's Town Hall that saw hundreds of activists and garnered the attention of Bangalore media.
Established in 1861, Section 377 defines "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man or women or animal" as criminal with a possible fine and up to 10 years’ imprisonment.
"The Supreme Court has failed us," said Vinay Chandran, executive director of Swabhava, an NGO that deals with LGBT issues. "This is not a time to cry; this is a time to be angry."
In its ruling, the court said only India’s parliament had the power to amend its ruling. However, many gay rights supporters believe that will be difficult, given the influence of the Bharatiya Janata Party, a conservative nationalist Hindu group.
Still, activists like Neruj Mohan promise to keep fighting, "We will secure rights. ... We will continue forward, and we will not go back in the closet."
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