In a landmark decision today, the Indian Supreme Court has voted unanimously to abolish Section 377 of the Penal Code and decriminalise gay sex. This is a significant moment in India’s history and marks the end of a long battle to overturn the legislation, which holds its roots in British Colonial laws dating back over 150 years. The ruling follows an earlier win for the LGBT+ community in India, when the Supreme Court in 2014 declared transgender a ‘third gender’, and afforded OBC (Other Backwards Class) protection. These positive steps indicate a general shift in attitudes towards the LGBT+ community in India and will have a significant impact on the advancement of LGBT+ inclusion and acceptance across the country.
Through our DIAN India Network, Community Business works with companies across India to ensure their diversity and inclusion policies offer robust protection and provisions for LGBT+ employees. Since 2008 when we launched our Creating Inclusive Workplaces for LGBT+ Employees Campaign, we have raised awareness for the importance of LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace, including publishing research for India, as well as providing comprehensive training and support to help companies foster an environment that is inclusive and supportive for all employees. We were deeply disappointed by the ruling in 2013 which re-instated S377, but have remained steadfast in our resolve to promote greater inclusion and equality for the LGBT+ community. It is therefore with great joy that we welcome this victory and applaud the Indian Supreme Court for their undivided verdict to provide an equal right to dignity and privacy to all citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. We have also been inspired by the many local organisations that have tirelessly advocated for change. That said, there is much to be done in India, as well as across the region, to solidify true inclusion and equality for LGBT+ individuals. Today’s decision brings with it the possibility of real change and acceptance, and we must ensure that our call for equality, regardless of any diversity marker, remains loud, proud and heard by our governments and our companies. #IMPACTxAsia