Amazon Prime Video’s web series ‘Made in Heaven’ is popular not only because it revolves around modern-day Indian weddings (always a hot topic!), but also because of its depiction of queer characters. One of the show’s leading characters is Karan Mehra, a gay man who gets arrested under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code after his landlord secretly films him having sex with another man and sends the video to the police. It was a telling point in the story that the cause of complaint at that time was not the voyeurism of the landlord, but Karan’s private acts in the sanctity of his home.
‘Made in Heaven’ took place at a time when homosexual relationships were illegal in India. Since then, the Supreme Court has decriminalised homosexual relationships (relationships between people of the same sex).
Section 377 states that anyone who voluntarily has sexual intercourse ‘against the order of nature’ with any man, woman or animal, can be punished with imprisonment for up to ten years or life imprisonment, along with a fine. In the Navtej Singh judgement, the Supreme Court held that Section 377 does not criminalize consensual sexual relationships between two adults (above eighteen years). It does not matter if the adult relationship involves a gay couple (man and a man), lesbian couple (woman and a woman) or transgenders.
The Constitution of India, 1950 protects sexual orientation as part of the right to equality and right to life. This includes the choice of whom to partner and the ability to find fulfilment in sexual intimacies without facing discrimination.