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Structural changes needed to ensure positive effects reach marginalized queer people: SC judge

New Delhi: Supreme Court Justice Justice DY Chandrachud said the Supreme Court’s decriminalization of Article 377 of the ICC has allowed gay people to emerge as legally empowered citizens.

He said that while the judgment allowed them to claim their rights, legitimate and proud structural changes are needed to ensure positive legal effects for marginalized queer people, who continue to face intersecting oppression.

Speaking at IIT-Delhi on Tuesday on “Realizing Diversity: Making a Difference in Higher Education”, Justice Chandracud said: “Certain groups of gay people because of their caste and positions class are more susceptible and vulnerable to the abuse of the right, both in terms of symbolic and material harm”.

He said the much-needed first legal step the Supreme Court was able to take with the decriminalization of homosexuality in Navtej Singh Johar’s September 6, 2018 verdict would not have been possible without the stories and experiences of the petitioners and d countless others they represented.

“Today also marks a special occasion as we have the opportunity to celebrate the 4th anniversary of the Supreme Court judgment in the Navtej Singh Johar case. While the decriminalization of Section 377 has allowed gay people to emerge as legally empowered citizens and claim their rights, legitimately and proudly; structural changes are still needed to ensure that we are able to extend these positive legal effects to marginalized queer people, who continue to face oppressions crossed,” he said.

Justice Chandrachud recalled that one of the related petitions named Anwesh Pokkuluri against the Union of India, made up of a lively choir of about 20 students and alumni from various IITs across the country, including IIT- Delhi, representing ‘Pravritti’, a support group for LGBT members of the IIT fraternity.

“The youngest claimant before the Court was actually a 19-year-old student from IIT-Delhi. have contributed to building a modern contemporary India, not only by advancing its technical skills, but by bringing the country closer to its constitutional values,” he said.

Justice Chandrachud, who is next to become Chief Justice of India, said diversity has intrinsic value in itself and enhances our understanding of equity and social justice.

“It was the diverse student population of IITs who, with their resilience and courage, decided to challenge Section 377 in court. Diversity also leads to positive outcomes in terms of forming better scholars, thinkers and citizens. Scientific innovation happens when someone has the courage to ask different questions, look at the problem from different angles and gain new knowledge,” he said.

He added that diversity results in innovative thinking and decision-making, and that the richness of originality in scholarly thinking and learning is impoverished when it occurs in groups of like-minded people. ideas.

“People from different genders, regions, castes and socio-economic backgrounds bring their own unique experiences, ideas, values ​​and perspectives to the task at hand by asking new questions and seeking unique solutions. As Amartya Sen said, we are ‘diversely different’ because of our plurality of identities, which intersect and overlap,” he said.

He referred to the invitation he received on the occasion from the Diversity and Inclusion Office of ITI-Delhi where lines were quoted from the Navtej Singh Johar judgment of 2018 and explained what this means for educational institutions.

“In my opinion, what this means for all our universities and institutes of higher learning is that they must resemble the India that they represent. If IIT-Delhi wants to continue achieving its vision of contributing to India’s growth through excellence in science and technology education and research, serving as a valuable resource for society, then a diverse IIT , equitable, inclusive and accessible is needed,” he said.

Justice Chandrachud said that as IIT-Delhi celebrates 60 years of existence, “this might be an appropriate time to reflect on the possibility of transformation of IITs by examining the intersection of two longstanding concerns of the state: education and social justice”.

He said that on rare occasions, when students can break through structural barriers and fight immense obstacles to enter higher learning institutes, their toughest battle starts inside the educational institutes. superior. An institute that is only diverse but not inclusive imposes additional burdens on students due to their stigmatized identities.

Judge Chandracud added that instances of campus discrimination, microaggressions, social exclusion, and feelings of lack of connection or support from peers and mentors can all have a pernicious impact on dignity. and student mental health.

“Social justice cannot be limited to access alone, but substantial inclusion is needed in higher education institutions that fosters meaningful social and academic interactions with the broader academic community, including faculty, administrators , staff and peers,” he said.


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