In September 2018, India’s Supreme Court unanimously struck down one of the world’s oldest bans on consensual gay sex, a groundbreaking victory for LGBT rights that buried one of the most glaring vestiges of India’s colonial past. After weeks of deliberation by the court and decades of struggle by gay Indians, Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the law was “irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary.”
“This is not just another court ruling. The primary reason this is not just another court ruling is because India is the second-biggest country on Earth. So when you do the math, it dawns on you that this will be the LGBT-related court ruling that affects the most LGBT people ever. Anywhere. In all history. Almost one in five LGBT humans.”-Rex Wockner 2018.
Nearly one in five LGBT people on Earth no longer being criminals is certainly a good reason for celebration and reflection.
The Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) in collaboration with the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa (CISA), the Wits Governing Intimacies Project and Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) invite you to a dialogue on this groundbreaking judgment and the considerations for strategies around furthering LGBT rights on the African continent.
Srila Roy is Associate Professor of sociology at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. She is an editor of Feminist Theory, Associate Editor of the Journal of South Asian Development, and is a member of the South African Young Academy of Science. She is the author of Remembering Revolution: Gender, Violence and Subjectivity in India’s Naxalbari Movement (Oxford, 2012), editor of New South Asian Feminisms (Zed, 2012), and co-editor ofNew Subaltern Politics: Reconceptualising Hegemony and Resistance in Contemporary India(Oxford, 2015). Srila is currently writing a monograph on feminist politics in liberalised India.
Gautam Bhan is a sexuality rights activist and has been part of queer autonomous groups in Delhi including Prism, Nigah and Voices against Sec 377. He is co-editor of Because I have a Voice: Queer Politics in India (Yoda Press 2005).
Sibongile Ndashe is the founder and Executive Director of the Initiative for Strategic Litigation Africa, ISLA. ISLA is a Pan- African and feminist led initiative that uses the rule of law and African domestic and regional courts to advance women’s human rights and sexual rights. Sibongile’s work focuses on litigating gender and sexuality cases before the African Human Rights Systems. She litigates before the African Commission and the African Court. She also works with domestic lawyers from a range of African countries to provide technical legal expertise on litigating gender and sexuality cases before domestic courts.
Keval Harie is the Director of the Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA). Keval, a qualified attorney, has always sought to put South Africa’s constitution at the centre of his career, using it to find new ways to promote social justice and human rights across the country. Keval joined GALA in January 2017 from the University of Cape Town’s Research Contracts and Innovation department where he helped students and faculty grow and apply their research in new and implementable ways. At GALA, Keval is most excited about the opportunity to connect the archives to new intersections of activism, particularly around gender identity and sexuality.