LGBT Rights and the Law in India

Ashley Tellis, FIAS Fellow 2023-2024 IAS Nantes & Freelance editor and journalist
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Lecture at Department of Women's Studies, Goa University, India, October 9th 2023

Guest Lecturer Ashley Tellis.


LGBT organising in India primarily took the legal route. Questioning this, Ashley Tellis traced that history from the demand for the repeal of Section 377 by one of the first groups the AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA) in Delhi to a demand for the reading down of Section 377 by the Naz petition in 2000. Examining the three judgements -Naz, Koushal and Navtej Johar - Tellis asked us to re-think the progressiveness of Naz and navtej and the regressiveness of Koushal.He also traced the history of the NALS judgement and argued that though meant for hijras, this law evacuated hijras from its focus and this is not least because of the Anglo-US nature of the jurisprudence around it. The overall argument Tellis made was that the legal cannot be a substitute for social organising on the ground and that we should be more critical of imported languages of the juriprudential and US-style identity politics.