LGBTQ community members, activists, hail SC verdict

Kolkata: Hailing the Supreme Court's landmark decision to decriminalise consensual gay sex under Section 377 of the IPC, Manabi Bandyopadhyay, the country's first transgender college principal, said Thursday it was a "new dawn" for members of the LGBTQ community and activists.

The judgment would enable every community member to claim his/her rightful place in the society, she told PTI. "I have been fighting for my rights since 2001. I have seen many highs and lows but never gave up," Bandyopadhyay, the principal of Krishnanagar Women's College said. 

"Today, for the past half an hour, I have been getting innumerable congratulatory calls. It is like a new era and a new dawn for all of us associated with the movement," she added. Bandyopadhyay said she did not think that the verdict would overnight change the attitude of people with patriarchal mindsets towards the transgender community.

"With the apex court judgment today, however, the society at large will begin to look at LGBTQ community, including transgenders, in a more positive way. We have come half way, there is still a long road ahead," she observed. The activist, who took charge as the principal in 2015, had resigned the following year, citing non-cooperation from teaching, non-teaching staff and students of her college.

Her resignation, however, was not accepted by the state education department and she resumed office in January, last year. West Bengal Transgender Development Board member Ranjita Sinha said it wasn't just the LGBTQ community that was happy with the order, people at large have welcomed the historic decision.

"Every person in the country should feel happy with the order as it is a matter of human rights. The mindsets and thought processes of people have been changing over the years and, with this order, those that never cared have also started expressing their solidarity towards the community," she added.

Social media, too, was flooded with celebratory posts since the announcement of the decision. Actor and elocutionist Sujoy Prosad Chatterjee posted "We won" on Facebook, right after the judgment.

Dancer-choreographer Sudarshan Chakraborty also expressed his happiness over the top court's ruling. "Section377 abolished!!!!!historical moment for India #lgbtq rights or rather #human rights....right to live with dignity," he wrote on Facebook.

A five-judge constitution bench of the apex court decriminalised consensual gay sex between two adults, bringing down the 158-year-old colonial law under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The bench also clarified that other aspects of Section 377 of the IPC dealing with unnatural sex with animals and children remain in force.

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