The largest democracy in the world decriminalising same-sex relations was huge, but it started with the determination of one couple.
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) 6 September 2018
The two became a couple after Mehra was assigned to write a profile of Johar. After meeting the dancer, he came back to the office to tell his editor he wouldn’t be able to do it objectively. Six months later the couple moved in together, and later opened a yoga and dance studio. Through the yoga studio, they befriended a pair of lawyers who would eventually help persuade them to be at the forefront of a new effort to tackle Section 377, a colonial-era criminal statute that made “unnatural sex” punishable by between 10 years in jail and a life sentence.
Their petition against it indicated that the couple were together for 20 years. It also said that though Mehra had been targeted at times for being gay, he never reported it to the police for fear of being targeted under the aforementioned section. Along with notable others, they soon put their own lives on hold, and petition the court to declare 377 unconstitutional.
Mehra spoke of their decision, in an interview with the Guardian:
We have been OK. I am 63—we have lived our lives. We had fought for our bit of sun and we found it. It was more for all those who didn’t have our class privileges, education, intellect, money and connections to insulate them. It was so that these other lives could be lived in the sun, rather than in burrowed, dark spaces.
You go guys, you go.
She spoke of Navtej Johar and his partner of 20 years Sunil Mehra, whose writ petition was heard yesterday. “Their lives have gone by. Tell my young clients that their lives will be different.”
— Dhamini (@dhamini) 11 July 2018