History owes an apology to the members of this community and their families, for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries.
– Supreme Court of India Ruling on Section 377, 6 September 2018
On 6th September 2018, the Supreme Court of India decriminalized homosexuality, after 24 years of legal and political struggle. Decriminalization was met with cheer and hope, celebrating the fact that LGBT people are no longer criminals in the eyes of the law.
As a founding member of the coalition ‘Voices Against 377’, CREA has worked for over 15 years to decriminalize homosexuality in India, giving a platform to lesbian women to advocate for their own rights at the national level alongside allies.
In addition to the long-fought battle against 377, CREA is also a part of Dignity for All, a global consortium that advances the rights of LGBTI persons by engaging with democracies around. This work focuses on countries including India, Kenya, Bangladesh where governments have failed to adequately protect the human rights of LGBTI persons and where national laws continue to criminalize sexual orientation and gender identity in varying degrees. CREA’s work has focused on advancing issues of decriminalization both within existing legal frameworks as well as participating in civil society responses to address these complex issues.
CREA is also a part of a Global South coalition ‘Sexual Rights Initiative’ (SRI), which consists of national and regional organizations from all parts of the world. SRI has been advocating for the advancement of human rights in relation to gender and sexuality and increasing the participation of global South activists at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and other UN mechanisms, since 2006. SRI members include CREA (India), Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (Egypt), Federation for Women and Family Planning (Poland), Akahatá (Argentina), Coalition of African Lesbians (South Africa) and Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights (Canada).
Through the SRI, CREA has engaged with the various HRC mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review, the resolutions introduced at the HRC and with the Special Procedures and Treaty Monitoring Bodies. CREA’s focus at the HRC has been on abortion, maternal mortality, sexual and reproductive health and rights issues, disability, sex work, women and sports, sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity and gender based violence. CREA has also worked with the other members of the SRI to prepare submissions for the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Special Rapporteur on trafficking, Working Group on Discrimination Against Women on Law and Practice etc. In 2010, CREA also conducted training with sexual rights activists from around the world at the HRC to work with its processes and mechanisms.
In India, CREA was involved in the drafting of the historic Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Bringing in an intersectional and sexuality lens, CREA has provided input into bills and laws impacting sex workers, women with disabilities and transgender persons. CREA has also extensively worked with women with disabilities, which led to the first women with disability-led national network in Kenya.
CREA, with its partners in the Gender 360 group, also made a submission to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which attempted to complicate the Office of the Prosecutor’s understanding of sexual and gender-based crimes, challenged normative ideas about gender and sexuality, showed how normative ideas are already embedded in legal documents such as the Rome Statute, and pointed out their exclusionary and harmful impact. Our submission proposed a non-carceral and human rights-based approach to the International Criminal Court, to address harm and violence.