chapter  6
17 Pages

Unruly desires, gay governance and the makeover of sexuality in postcolonial India


The contemporary moment in queer activism in postcolonial India is marked by two contradictory events. The first is the 2009 historic victory in the Naz Foundation decision where the Delhi High Court decided to read down the provisions of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, that criminalizes sodomy, holding that it was inapplicable to consensual adult sexual relationships.1 There was jubilation in the courtroom and celebration in the streets. In the days following the High Court’s pronouncement, gays and lesbians around India openly declared their sexuality and interpreted the victory as enabling marriage. Couples began to take vows and exchange garlands in a ritual that marked their passage into acceptance and legitimacy.