Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju successfully challenged Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which punished LGBTQ+ relations. The Supreme Court lawyers opposed the draconian laws, which were introduced during the British rule of India.
The law criminalised homosexual acts as an ‘unnatural offence’ and has been heavily contested in the last few decades. They worked together on the landmark case in 2018 when the Supreme Court of India ruled that Section 377 no longer applies to consensual gay sex between adults.
Speaking on a TV show hosted by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, the lawyers spoke about their work to scrap the rule and it bought them closer together. They chuckled and confirmed to Zakaria that they were, in fact, a couple.
On the show, Menaka argued against the archaic laws, saying they should have never been added in during colonial times. She said:
‘For queer folks in all these post-colonial countries, our governments have to have a sense that these are not our laws, these were never our cultures.
‘And why have we not been more proactive in bringing forth law reform and expanding freedom? Surely, independence and decolonisation must mean that?’
Though they were successful in repealing the law in 2018, their efforts to do so in 2013 had failed where they had also worked together. After their landmark victory, the duo received international acclaim, going onto being named by TIME magazine as two of the 100 most influential people of 2019.
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