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Social media gives bipolar reactions to Supreme Court verdict on Section 377, criminalising gay sex

Wednesday, 11 December 2013 - 10:21pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA Webdesk
Once again social media was perhaps the most accurate litmus test to the national public opinion on the idea of criminalising gay sex
  • Anantha Subramanyam K DNA

Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook along with various blogs exploded with contrasting opinions following the Supreme Court judgement that upheld Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that makes homosexual acts punishable by law.

While a number of people expressed their shock at the India's apex court that has in the past been known to uphold human rights, others spared no words in expressing their displeasure towards India's legal bodies. Hashtags like #Sec377, #Scrap77, #LGBT were trending.

Indrajit Dewanjee tweeted:

Actor Ranvir Shorey tweeted:

People not only questioned the existence of the law, but also compared it to other regressive issues such as marital rape where the SC has remained neutral.

Alaphia Zoyab echoes the same sentiments on Facebook, “Violence in the bedroom is allowed. Exercising your free will? How dare you!!”

Aditya Paul on Facebook was among many others who raised the question of choice. He posted, “Choice is now a crime. ‪#‎Sec377‬”

Even a few politicians on Twitter also expressed their solidarity. Member of Parliament Milind Deora, tweeted:

While J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) attacked homophobes on their 'morality' defence:

In fact, the SC failed to find approval even within its own clique. Prominent SC lawyer Harish Salve tweeted a long letter expressing his anguish:

He raised further questions of morality and the limit to the authority of the SC:

Amnesty International condemned the act as well:

Post by Amnesty International India.

 

Contempt of the court? 
As it is with social media, people took liberties with their freedom of expression. While the many comments on the judgement, for and against, many others bordered on incivility and others were outright slander.

But can expressing your opinion against the SC judgements amount to contempt of court? “No, not all!” informs legal counsel Firdaus Moosa. “Everybody has the right to express their opinions. Saying anything against the judgement isn't contempt in my view. Contempt is violation of order and direction.”

Although she further explains, “If someone abuses the judge in an open court, that amounts to contempt.”

But the reason for this rage is understandable. Up until this judgement, India held a progressive position on gay rights with the Delhi High Court decriminalising homosexuality in 2009. Considering that, people's shock and reactions don't come as a surprise. Some found humour in the situation. Monsh tweeted:

 

Gay rights? What, gay rights? 
However, not everyone disagreed with the SC ruling. Many came out in favour and support of the judgement, blaming homosexuality as the cause of social evils. Kumar Hemant, tweeted:

Another individual, a certain Hardik Bhatt tweeted:

Vinay was concerned as to how he would explain the concept of gay love to his niece:

To Raheel Khursheed's post on Facebook—“Marital Rape = Legal. Gay Sex = Illegal. Well done India!” a certain Farhan Masoodi commented, “Activism is an important part of free press as long as it does not advocate cultural degradation and dellusional and atheistic statements like marital rape. We should be pleased that an otherwise immoral govt. has passed a decision to curb an unholy act rather than promoting this satanic epidemic. Rather than advocating a stereotypical western media sentiment, we should comply with our cultural and moral values which are fast degrading due to the over influencing western pagan propaganda.

But the rage wasn't limited within the online community. Supporters of the LGBT groups were out on the streets in protest of the SC ruling through the day. Clarion calls were put out for rallies across major cities in India. Plans are also being chalked to hold protest rallies outside of Indian high commissions in major international cities as well.


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