This post is commentary.
I have been judged and pronounced guilty by a group of people who know nothing of me. My crime is wanting to love, to live and exist with dignity and equality without fear.
The Supreme Court’s ugly, unfair judgment Wednesday tells me that my love for another human being is illegal.
The Constitution gave us the right to be equal. In 2009, the High Court reasserted that right on the foundation of constitutional morality as defined by the founding fathers. That did more than just give rights to sexual minorities- it gave us hope and confidence. Attitudes do not change overnight but having equal rights, in terms of the law, is a start.
For the first time, we began to dream of a life free of fear, injustice and discrimination. The police could no longer harass us; we were equals in the eyes of the law. We had rights and we had begun to get more social acceptance and support.
After centuries of being wronged, this finally felt right. I remember meeting so many young men and women who were strengthened by the judgment and came out to their families and friends. I heard many more speak of seeking longterm companionships, eventually creating families, not very different from the mainstream desire to domesticate.
Things changed around us too. I heard friends and colleagues talk more openly about sexuality.
Organizations began talking about partner rights, anti-harassment, LGBT groups. A few years ago all of that would have been hard to imagine. I remember when my cousin’s 12-year-old son found out I was gay. He immediately put up the same sex marriage sign up on his Facebook page in support. Discrimination does not begin and end with a law. People support you if they believe you are right. If the law is supports you as well, it helps.
More In Gay Rights
Congress Party to Fight Ban on Gay Sex
Watch: Indians React to Ban on Gay Sex
Life for Gay People After Supreme Court’s Ban
What They Said: India Proscribes Gay Sex
Watch: Protests in India Over Gay Sex Ban
This regressive, deeply flawed and incorrect judgment has taken much of that hope, confidence and freedom away. It has, however, reinforced our resolve to fight. The struggle for equality, for justice and for the right to love will go on. Yet, it did not have to be this way.
Many will be forced to live in fear. Many will now be more apprehensive. The police will yet again be able to harass us. The larger prejudiced-majority will have the right to deny us equality. Yet we will go on.
I will not, and neither will anyone else, give up our right to love and seek happiness because a prejudiced court or society thinks I should do so. I will not let fear creep into my life.
I will also continue to hope that someday those who seek to judge will understand that they must apply the same rules to me that they apply to themselves in law, in life, in love and in freedom
I have the right to be equal. I will not allow the opinions of others influence my ability to build a productive and happy life. I will seek happiness like everyone else does.
(Chapal Mehra lives and works in New Delhi.)