In defence of their gay children, 19 parents go to SC
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They come from across India and all walks of life, including homemakers, academics and teachers, a postal employee and the head of a co-operative bank. Among them are film-maker Chitra Palekar and Minna Saran, mother of film-maker Nishit Saran who died in a road accident in 2002.
Lending them support is film director Shyam Benegal, pitching in as intervener in the Supreme Court in the battle to sustain the 2009 Delhi High Court verdict decriminalising sex between consenting adults of the same sex.
In an extraordinary expression of solidarity with their children's cause to decriminalise their identity, the 19 parents have joined hands to fight in courts a "sustained attack" by organisations and private persons who insist that their children's sexuality, if not criminalised, would destroy "family values".
"This biased and misleading response has now been countered in the Supreme Court by a group of people who very definitely do know a homosexual person, their very own child," the parents issued a statement.
"They come from across India and all walks of life, including homemakers, academics and teachers, a postal employee and the head of a co-operative bank. Nothing could be more typically Indian than this group of parents, who are doing nothing more than defending the rights of their children for a safe and unprejudiced life," they identified themselves.
Backing them, Benegal, in a statement, said he was "committed to the rights of all minorities in India to be treated equally, and live with dignity".
He said "criminalisation of any minority, including LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) people is unconstitutional, violates the ethos of the nation and attacks the fabric of the Constitution."
The joint petition also features Munithayamma as one of the 19 parents. The mother of Veena S confesses to have hit her daughter, unable to fathom how her child, born a male, was slowly changing her identity. She is now ready to pitch in for Veena before the Supreme Court.
Minna Saran, Nishit's mother, helped her film-maker son document his struggles to come to terms with his sexuality. He died in a road accident and she went on to set up the Nishit Saran Foundation in his memory to help LGBT youth and their families.
In their petition, the parents argue that the "real harm" to family values is not caused by their children but by "divisive and discriminatory laws" like Section 377 IPC.
"It is Section 377 which is a threat to family values, as it directly affects the rights of the applicants (parents) to safeguard their families from illegal and arbitrary intrusion from the state authorities," states their petition in the Supreme Court.
"Section 377 invades the sanctity of the family, home and allows the unlawful attacks on the honour and reputation of both parents of LGBT persons as well as LGBT persons themselves," it adds.
Chitra Palekar "testifies" how isolating it was to be the mother of a "lesbian daughter", Dr Shalmalee Palekar, an academic, "since the criminality associated with homosexuality prevented any open discussion".
She relates how she came to understand and accept her daughter by reading books on LGBT and meeting them. But she is also aware of the social stigma which would prevent many other less well-situated parents from having the same opportunities.
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