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Legalizing SexSexual Minorities, AIDS, and Citizenship in India$
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Chaitanya Lakkimsetti

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479810024

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479810024.001.0001

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Empowered Criminals

Empowered Criminals

(p.76) 3 Empowered Criminals
Legalizing Sex

Chaitanya Lakkimsetti

NYU Press

“Empowered Criminals” compares the mobilization of sex workers and MSM and gay groups around two separate legal campaigns: the campaign to decriminalize adult consensual same-sex sex (Section 377 activism) and the campaign to stop new amendments to ITPA. Through advocacy and sustained campaigning, sex worker and MSM/kothi groups were able to not only mobilize against these laws but also use their roles in the HIV/AIDS prevention programs to argue that these laws undermined the state’s health mandate. Through protests and lobbying, they were able to gain the crucial support of HIV/AIDS groups as well as the federal Ministry of Health (which is primarily responsible for implementing HIV/AIDS policy). Furthermore, sex workers successfully stalled ITPA amendments in 2007, and LGBTKQHI groups had brief success with the reform of Section 377 in 2009. I argue that despite these successes, sex workers and LGBTKQHI groups still remained “empowered criminals.” They were empowered to make claims on the state based on their shared responsibility in preventing HIV/AIDS, and yet they were still classified as criminals because the laws that criminalize sex acts remain intact.

Keywords:   anti-sodomy law (Section 377), Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA), biopower, MSM, sex work, anti-trafficking, state, biopolitics

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