Recent judgement of the Supreme Court decriminalising Section 377 has been welcomed all across the society, barring a few religious or cultural groups who are still voicing their opposition.

This does not only liberate men and women in expressing and experiencing their sexual orientation, but also gives a legal space to transgenders. LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) activists have claimed the victory for their three decade long battle in Indian legal system. Society will still take some time to accept such sexual freedoms.

Special case is that of the transgender community who had been facing social, legal and cultural hurdles in their lives. Their rights have not been well accepted and they are still struggling against discrimination in all fields, political, economic and social. Their plight was increased by introduction of Indian Penal Code 1861 which under Section 377 had declared their sexual orientation as against the law. Since then, on occasions, transgenders had been facing atrocities at the hands of people and police.

In 2014 the Supreme Court had in a pathbreaking judgement of National Legal Service Authority v. Union of India (2014) given them a status of respect by upholding their right to self-determine own gender. The Supreme Court directed the state to grant transgender community a legal identity as third gender. Government was advised to take necessary steps to bring them into main stream society. Consider mental agony of a transgender who had to fill a form where gender column had only two options. They were forced to chose one of the two options knowing fully well, they were none.

The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014 was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2015. This was a good step in direction of implementing the Supreme Court judgement and added a momentum to the ongoing fight for the rights of transgender community. However, the bill did not receive required support in Lok Sabha and could not be passed. The government introduced the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 in Lok Sabha which is yet to be passed.

Many states have started acting on the Supreme Court judgement of 2014, to give respectable status to transgender. And the recent judgement decriminalising Section 377 will ensure the transgender community relief from unwanted interference in their private life.

Although situation of transgender community in society as a whole has improved over the period of time and they have come forward in various fields of economy, politics and fashion, a long distance is yet to be covered for equal place in society. Everyone needs freedom of expression, may it be related to their sexual orientation. This judgement decriminalising Section 377 has strengthened our fundamental right to Freedom of (Speech and) Expression.

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