Overcoming Section 377: The Decriminalization of Homosexuality and the Indian Supreme Court
A Panel Discussion with Dr. Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju, moderated by Professor Katherine Franke
Columbia Law School | 435 West 116th Street, New York, NY
Jerome Greene Hall | 7th Floor | Case Lounge
4:15 pm - 6:00 pm
On September 6th, in a landmark judgment for the LGBTQ community in India, the Supreme Court abolished Section 377, a colonial-era sodomy law that was used to criminalize homosexuality.
Columbia Law School's Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju represented the lead petitioners in the case, seeking to overturn Section 377 on the basis that it was unconstitutional, as it enabled discrimination and stigmatization of individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and expression. Leading up to the hearing, they were the prime architects of a creative, multi-year litigation strategy to rid India of Section 377, which Guruswamy called “a colonial stain on [India's] collective national conscience”—an archaic law that sowed debilitating fear and stigma among sexual minorities. Guruswamy and Katju argued that sexuality and its expression are fundamental human experiences, and to enable discrimination on the basis of sexuality and its expression denies individuals of their fundamental human rights.
Menaka Guruswamy practices law before the Supreme Court of India, and is also the BR Ambedkar Research Scholar and a Lecturer at Columbia Law School, Arundhati Katju LLM '17 is a lawyer and advocate, and was a 2016-2017 Human Rights Fellow at Columbia Law School. She is currently a JSD candidate at Columbia Law.
Professor Franke will moderate a panel discussion with Dr. Guruswamy and Ms. Katju regarding the case, and it's implications on LGBTQ rights in a global context.
This program is free and open to the public, and is co-supported by the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, the BR Ambedkar Chair, the Center for the Study of Law and Culture, the Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School, the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality, and the Center for the Study of Social Difference's Women Creating Change program.