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Academics Support Delhi High Court Decision in Section 377 Case

February 7, 2011: In a petition that has just been admitted by the Supreme Court leading academics and professors from across the country have come together to support the Delhi High Court’s decision in the Section 377 case, Naz Foundation v. Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, decriminalizing homosexuality between consenting adults.

This initiative is in response to the attacks made against the decision by many self-proclaimed “experts”, some of who have gone as far as to file appeals against the decision in the Supreme Court. Many of these “experts” seem to assert that their views on the subject are definitive and hence must be accepted. Against this, the academics argue for the need to consider a diversity of views, coming from people with independently established expertise.

The Applicants submit that the views of “religious leaders” cannot be taken as being the final word on the issue which would bind all sections of society. The Applicants, with their extensive experience and knowledge in the fields of Sociology, International Law, Political Science and Gender Studies can make a significant contribution to the debate on the issues raised by the impugned judgment, providing insight into the evolution of society and the evolution of laws and social mores which have adapted themselves to such social changes over time, the world over.

This is not entirely an abstract academic issue. Unlike many of the opponents, who seem to have had little actual interaction with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, the academics state that they have interacted with hundreds of LGBT people in India and witnessed first hand the harassment, humiliation and prejudice they have had to face. Such harassment and humiliation has taken place within colleges and universities where both students and academic staff have faced problems ranging from ragging to suspension simply for reasons of their sexuality.

The Applicants wish to draw attention to the pain experienced by the LGBT community, within academic circles due to being subject to constant ridicule and harassment which was further perpetrated by the existence of Sec.377 of the IPC. As teachers they make the argument that Sec.377 vitiates for everybody (and not just for gay people) the general atmosphere of free expression, learning, enquiry, and dignity that an academic environment should ensure.

They oppose Sec.377 because its existence legitimizes an atmosphere that runs counter to the spirit of openness and acceptance of difference that should mark modern academic spaces. Its existence is not only an affront to those who are non-heterosexual, but it is an affront to each and every person in the academy who believes that every teacher and student has dignity that should be respected, and that learning is a continuous and life-long process, in which fixed ways of thinking are continuously challenged and reshaped by more inclusive values.

The academics who have come together for this petition include Professor Nivedita Menon, who is Professor of Political Thought at the School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Professor Shohini Ghosh who is Zakir Hussain Professor of Media at the AJK Mass Communication Research Center.

180 Signatories :

Apurba K Baruah, Manorama Sharma (NEHU, Shillong);
Tilottama Sharma Misra, Udayon Misra (Guwahati);
Shaila Desouza, (Goa University and Member, Goa State Commission for Women);
Alito Siqueira, (Goa University);
Prabhakar Bhimalapuram, K Madhava Krishna, Harjinder Singh ‘Laltu’, (IIIT, Hyderabad);
Sowmya Dechamma, G Haragopal, Jenson Joseph, R.V.Ramana Murthy, Yasser Arafath P.K, Sanjay Palshikar, Sujata Patel, Arun Kumar Patnaik, Aparna Rayaprol, (University of Hyderabad);
A.Suneetha, (Anveshi, Hyderabad);
Satish Poduval, M. Madhava Prasad, N. Manohar Reddy, Susie Tharu (EFLU Hyderabad)
Anup Dhar, Rakhi Ghoshal, Tejaswini Niranjana, Rochelle Pinto, (CSCS Bangalore)
Annapurna Garimella, Lata Mani, Kavery Nambisan, Vijay Nambisan, Rekha Pappu, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, (Bangalore)
Janaki Abraham, Sadhna Arya, Naman P. Ahuja, Pratiksha Baxi, Maitrayee Chaudhuri, Anuradha Chenoy, Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Rohan D’Souza, Ajay Gudavarthi, Siddharth Mallavarapu, Ranjani Mazumdar, Nivedita Menon, Padmini Mongia, A.K.Ramakrishnan, Mohan Rao, Anupama Roy, Tanika Sarkar, Urmimala Sarkar, Kavita Singh, (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi);
Amrapali Basumatary, Amita Baviskar, Shahana Bhattacharya, Brinda Bose, Gautam Chakrabarti, Uma Chakravarty, Anita Cherian, Radhika Chopra, Prem Chowdhry, Nonica Datta, P. K. Datta, Satish Deshpande, Anita Ghai, Saroj Giri, Charu Gupta, NA Jacob, Rachana Johri, Chitra Joshi, Sunalini Kumar, Mukul Manglik, Dilip Menon, Krishna Menon, Rajni Palriwala, Sumit Sarkar, Parth Shil, Mohinder Singh, Ujjwal Kumar Singh, Sanjay Srivastava, Nandini Sundar, Achin Vanaik, Madhvi Zutshi (Delhi University);
Sabeena Gadihoke, Shohini Ghosh, K.S.Kusuma, Sanghamitra Misra, Ambarien Al Qadar, Sreerekha, Shamuel Tharu, (Jamia Milia Islamia, Delhi);
Ratna Kapur, (CFLR, Delhi);
Anu Aneja (IGNOU, Delhi)
Sarada Balagopalan, Aditya Nigam, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Ravi Sundaram, Ravi Vasudevan, (CSDS Delhi);
Renu Addlakha, Mary E. John, Sreelekha Nair, N Neetha, (CWDS, Delhi);
Malavika Karlekar, Editor, Indian Journal of Gender Studies
Shah Alam Khan (AIIMS, Delhi);
Vineeta Bal, (National Institute of Immunology,Delhi)
Pulapre Balakrishnan, (Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi)
Kailash K.K., Deepak K. Singh, Janaki Srinivasan, (Punjab University, Chandigarh)

Mangesh Kulkarni, Sharmila Rege, Anagha Tambe, (University of Pune)
Ajit Menon, Anandhi.S, Padmini Swaminathan, (MIDS, Chennai);
MSS Pandian (Chennai);
Meena Kandasamy (Anna University, Chennai)
K. Srilata (IIT Madras)
Vineeta Bhatia, Nasreen Fazalbhoy, Kamala Ganesh, Shoba Venkatesh Ghosh, Kanchana Mahadevan, Leena Rao, Sam Taraporevala, Vrijendra (University of Mumbai)
K. Sridhar (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai)
Amita Bhide, K.P. Jayasankar, Nandini Manjrekar, Anjali Monteiro, Bindhulakshmi P, Lakshmi Lingam, B. Manjula, Shilpa Phadke, Monica Sakhrani, (TISS, Mumbai)
Supratik Chakraborty, Om Damani, Anindya Datta, Siby K. George, Siddhartha Ghosh, Farhana Ibrahim, Shishir K. Jha, K. D. Joshi, Piyul Mukherjee, Ratheesh Radhakrishnan, Bhaskaran Raman, Sharmila, (IIT Bombay)
Kaiwan Mehta, (K Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture, Mumbai)
Chhaya Datar, Rohini Hensman, Rohan Shivkumar, Rajinder Singh (Mumbai)
Gita Chadha (University of London External Programme, Mumbai)
Johannes Manjrekar, Shivaji K Panikkar, Indrapramit Roy, Santhosh.S (M S University of Baroda);
Meera Velayudhan (Ahmedabad);
J Devika, Praveena Kodoth, V.J.Varghese, (CDS Thiruvananthapuram)
Jiju Varghese Jacob (Govt. Polytechnic College Punalur)
T.V.Sajeev (Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi)
Janaky Sreedharan, Mini Sukumar, K.Gopinathan, (University of Calicut)
V C Harris (Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam)
Sibaji Bandyopadhyay, Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya, Anjan Ghosh, Epsita Halder, Janaki Nair, (CSSS Kolkata);
Abhijit Gupta, Kavita Panjabi, (Jadavpur University)
Nikhila H., (Pondicherry University)
Pushpesh Kumar, (SRTM University, Nanded)
Rekha Chowdhary, Ellora Puri, (University of Jammu)
Oishik Sircar (Jindal Global Law School, Sonipat)
Sukla Sen, Life Fellow, Indian Academy of Social Sciences, Allahabad

For more information please contact: Vikram Doctor – 98213-29037

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