ADDED ON: 09/06/2018

Meet the Gay Couple Who Pleaded with India’s Top Court for the Right to Love

09/06/2018 | Quartz

Cherished rights often come about because organizations and peoplehave worked for years to make them happen. But they also usually depend—in the last mile—on a few people (paywall) deciding to step forward at great personal risk to push a country forward. India’s landmark gay-rights victory today (Sept. 6), decriminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults, involved both kinds of struggles. Earlier efforts involved a public interest suit brought by an HIV-prevention group, which won a celebrated but limited victory in 2009 that was overturned four years later. Today’s win began with a petition that was filed in 2016 (pdf) and referred to a larger constitutional bench in January, and it depended in large part on a couple who’ve been together for nearly a quarter century.  Navtej Singh Johar, 59, a classical dancer and a yoga teacher from the Punjab town of Chandigarh, and his partner, journalist Sunil Mehra, 63, never planned to be a test case. They focused on their own lives and passions. Johar knew early on that he wanted to be a dancer, and trained in classical Bharatanatyam, winning a top Indian dance honor in 2014. Mehra wrote for leading Indian publications about women’s rights, the threat to coral reefs off India’s coasts, and at times, his own experiences being a gay man in India.


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