Hotelier Keshav Suri Moves SC For ‘Right To Choice Of Sexual Orientation’
He has sought removal of Sec 377 IPC from the statute book
Keshav Suri, executive director at The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, has moved the Supreme Court seeking a declaration that right to choice of sexual orientation is embedded in Article 21 of the Constitution and that criminalization of sexual intercourse between two consenting adults of same sex is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
Suri has moved the court through advocate Mukul Rohatgi and his petition is likely to come up for hearing on Monday.
The petition said Section 377 IPC is “unconstitutional and incapable of inapplicable to consenting homosexual adults”.
Suri said he has been in a committed relationship for nearly a decade with another adult man and has been consensually residing together with him and is himself a part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community in India.
The industrialist said, in his petition, that he has been “battling discrimination on account of his sexual orientation and being passionate about the cause of inclusion of members of the LGBTQ community in economic and social spheres”.
It is to be noted that Suri has spearheaded a social campaign tiled “Pure Love” for creating a platform for persons from all walks of life, including the LGBTQ community, to come forth and share their life experiences and thereby feeling included in the society.
He said he has approached the apex court seeking an appropriate writ, order or direction in the nature of a mandamus declaring that the right to choice of sexual orientation is a fundamental right in part III of the Constitution of India and that any discrimination of any person on the basis of exercise of this choice is violative of part III of the Constitution.
He also prayed for a writ of mandamus declaring that intercourse between consenting adults of the same gender is not carnal intercourse against the order of nature and Section 377 of IPC is not applicable to such consenting adults.
It is to be noted that Navtej Singh’s petition on the same issue is already pending before the Supreme Court.
Suri, in his petition, sought the relief that right of choice, right of privacy, right to dignity, right to non- discrimination and right to liberty for himself and many persons of the LGBTQ community while referring to manner in which people of the community face discrimination in routine life and equal work opportunities and pay is not given to individuals who have chosen their sexual orientation which is so-called different from those who are heterosexuals.
He shared that he himself suffered mentally and was being stigmatized on account of a sexual orientation at a personal and professional front and had to deal with non-acceptance of his fundamental and intrinsic choice i.e., his homosexuality, with his family and thereafter, even professionally where questions were raised about his sexuality which does not normally happen with heterosexual individuals.
Suri also said he is constantly living under the fear of a false or potential prosecution with Section 377 IPC being on the statute book and thus is unable to express his relationship and his right to choose his sexual partner without being worried, which he said was “by no yardstick a life of dignity and respect”.
The petition also said a large number of the demography of the country cannot live in discrimination and denial of their fundamental rights and that criminalisation of homosexuals is based on stigma and the same stigma is being perpetuated by the legal system.
The petition also referred to the judgment of the Supreme Court in NALSA vs Union of India wherein the Supreme Court recognized the third gender and ascertained that they get their due rights and said there exists no rational basis for any person to be criminalized only because of a choice exercised by them in their private life to love and have consensual sexual relations with another individual of the same sex.
Suri also said the exclusion of persons of the LGBTQ community also rules out talented workforce which directly impacts personal health costs, wealth creation and workforce loss and loss of contribution to the GDP while referring to a preliminary study sponsored by the World Bank on the economic cost of homosexuals and the exclusion of LGBT people and said the estimated cost is approximately anywhere between 0.1 and 1.7 percent of GDP and 56 percent of white-collar LGBT workers have reported discrimination.