Indian Lgbt (lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) Rights Activist Shout Slogans As They Attend a Gathering in New Delhi India on 11 December 2013 India's Top Court Ruled That Homosexuality is Illegal Dealt a Setback to the Gay Lesbian and Transgender Communities a Two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court Reversed a Landmark 2009 Verdict by the Delhi High Court Which Said Consensual Sex Between Adults of the Same Sex was not a Criminal Offense According the Indian Penal Code a 148-year-old Law That Dates Back to British Colonial Rule Same-sex Relationships Are an Unnatural Offence Punishable by a 10-year Jail Term India New DelhiIndia Supreme Court Reinstates Gay Sex Ban - Dec 2013

NEW DELHI, India Celebrations have given way to some forward thinking in India, after the momentous reversal of Section 377 of the Indian penal code decriminalizing consensual gay sex. Many brands and designers transformed their launch events into a mark of respect and a commemoration as the archaic law, set in British India more than 100 years ago, was set aside by the Supreme Court.

“It is truly historic,” said designer Manish Arora as he was putting together his collection for his show at Paris Fashion Week. “In fashion we have always related to the [gay] community strongly, and are with and around people who accept it. But we all had issues about how to come out to your near and dear ones. It means that for the coming generations they will not live in fear.”

He said it is a time to look into the future, and give reign to creativity at every level. “It was very discouraging — and demotivating to have a law criminalizing gay sex,” Arora commented. “I love India. I am what I am because I’m Indian and love the country, but there are certain important issues — and the freedom to love is right out there among them.”

The decision by the Supreme Court was even more moving as cultural norms in India — usually slower to open up — have been shifting ahead of the law. Designers such as Suneet Varma, who married his lover at New York City Hall, has been open about same-sex marriage, as has well known designer Wendell Rodricks, who made no secret of marrying his partner in a civil ceremony in Paris.

Many designers, like Arora, have been lending their voices to the movement, including marches, protests and initiating dialogues.

“I’ve been standing up for this and participated as much as I could,” said Arora. “I was always comfortable with my own sexuality. But in my earlier days I’ve been scared, and sometimes felt disappointed in myself and said, why am I like this? But I’ve been traveling from an early age and seen what it’s like in different countries and can just remember how frustrated I felt things were like this here.”

In a previously scheduled launch of sustainable brand Nicobar, in which a selection called “Midnight Wonderland” was being celebrated, the focus quickly became that of the “momentous” occasion as brand chief executive officer Raul Rai spoke to a packed room about how the industry, and the country, could celebrate an important and basic freedom. The pink hearts scattered across as decoration became a symbol of free love.

“It’s been a long fight against section 377, which criminalized homosexual activities in India,” said Rai, shifting the focus from the first premium collection being offered by Nicobar, designed by creative director Aparna Chandra.

“This calls for a big celebration. It allows more openness, more freedom of expression, and being, which always leads to lovely places in one’s journey. But I also think that the design community has led the way, lived with courage and is part of the reason this judgment came to be,” he said.

Also readying for a separate launch, Pranay Baidya, whose men’s collection called “Wanderlust” is just being released, said, “We live in a smaller world now, thanks to the digital age and looking at how countries around the world have been handling it. We felt like lesser people. The acceptance that you are no longer a potential criminal is a huge change. It’s a sensitive judgment, a huge step in the right direction,” said Pranay Baidya.

He said the repression — not only by society, but by the legal system — had resulted in a certain kind of creativity, one in which fear, anguish, and a certain desire for freedom were driving factors.

Gaurav Gupta, who is readying to open his biggest retail store yet, in New Delhi, stopped a moment, in tears. “It’s been a long, long battle,” he said, and time to celebrate LGBT pride.

It doesn’t end here. “You know as designers in cities like Delhi (where he has grown up) and Mumbai, it doesn’t really affect us very directly. We are out, as bisexual or alternate. But the real battle is in the smaller cities where acceptance has to really just begin,” Gupta said.

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