ARTESIA, CA - Protests against the recent Indian Supreme Court ruling reinstating Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) spread past the Indian border as the local LGBTQ group Satrang hosted a candlelight vigil Dec. 13 here to express their disbelief and solidarity with their comrades in India.
Section 377 makes it a crime to engage in sexual activities “against the order of nature,” effectively criminalizing homosexuality, even if it is between two consenting adults. The group of about 35 protesters, some of them openly gay, began their vigil at around 7 pm, when they walked over from 183rd Street and Pioneer Blvd. to the local Cash and Carry a few blocks down. Attendees adorned themselves with signs protesting 377 and many passed out flyers to passerbys. Despite the small turnout, Satrang chose the Pioneer Blvd. for their vigil because, as they put it, it is an “important nexus” for South Asians in Southern California.
Section 377 was struck down in a 2009 Delhi High Court decision, before the Indian Supreme Court recently upheld the 161-year-old remnant of British rule on Dec. 11. The Indian Supreme Court states that abolishing the law is not the job of the judicial system, but is rather an issue for parliament.
Current Satrang president Almas Haider, expressing a common sentiment among the protesters that the recent ruling was simply a political ploy for the upcoming elections said. “This is about people’s lives, this isn’t a game.” She added, “Global Day of Rage against Section 377 has not only elevated the LGBT cause in India but has also forced us to look at our own laws as U.S. citizens and acknowledge the injustices that still exist in our own system. How 14 states in the U.S. still have anti-sodomy laws. The injustices faced by the LGBT community in India are no different than what is happening in the U.S. today. However, the difference is that we are uniting as a community in full solidarity with our community filled not only with LGBTQI individuals but our allies and supporters. Together we will uphold our rights, not just in India but wherever we call home.” In addition to the candlelight vigil, on December 15 Satrang joined over 35 cities worldwide protesting the unjust ruling. Messages of support and solidarity were live tweeted and on Facebook as community members poured into a local Los Angeles cafe and information was shared about Section 377. Los Angeles based events were supported by: Satrang, South Asian Network, and South Asians for Justice-LA.