Chef Ritu Dalmia | Facebook/chefritudalmia
Chef Ritu Dalmia | Facebook/chefritudalmia
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I don’t know if I will see marriage rights being granted to our community in my lifetime.

There’s a smile stuck on my face. This is a moment of relief. I am in the United Kingdom now and I could not sleep last night in anticipation of the judgment. I had set my alarm at 5:30 am here just so that I could get up and listen to the Supreme Court verdict on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

It was obvious what the judges were thinking while they were reading out their judgments in Supreme Court today, but I wanted to wait for the final verdict. And I haven’t stopped smiling since. People in the UK are confused about my facial expression!

The verdict on Section 377 is like waiting for a delicious meal and when it finally comes after waiting for a while, you are blown away. It’s unbelievable.

Also read: Perhaps, homosexuals have cured Baba Ramdev

I have never been an activist. I wanted to be known for what I do, not who I sleep with. So when Justice G.S. Singhvi of the Supreme Court said he has never “met a gay person” in 2013, I made the decision to come on board with the petition. It took me all of 30 seconds to make up my mind, knowing that I would now be considered a criminal. But I am not a coward.

I am a proud citizen of India, and to be called a criminal is unthinkable.

In my professional life as a chef, I have never been discriminated against for my sexuality. I am my own boss! When I joined the petition, all of the 400 people working with me cheered me on – from cooks to cleaners, everyone. They even wanted to contribute whatever they could to the case.

The years from 2016 to now have not been easy. I have also had a lot of abuses and negative comments targeted at me, especially on social media. But at the same time, I have received a lot of love and emails for the path we took. People from small towns have told us that they support the case. I knew then that this was my purpose in life, not fame, not money, but this.

Also read: Sometimes homophobic, sometimes liberal: BJP’s uneven Section 377 journey 

The law now has been passed. The social part of it will still take a long time to come about. It will be a lengthy process. But before you take on any social evil, the law has to be on your side, like it was in the case of Sati or child marriage. The verdict today is the first step to a bigger battle.

We have just decriminalised homosexuality. I don’t know whether in my lifetime I will see marriage rights being granted to our community. But today’s judgment is a step in the right direction. I feel like we have done our job, now it is for the younger generation of Indians to carry forward this movement.

As told to ThePrint.

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