No Easy Walk to Freedom , a 90-minute documentary by Nancy Nicol, tells the story of the struggle for decriminalization of homosexuality in contemporary India.
In 2001, the Naz Foundation, an HIV/AIDS non-governmental organization in Delhi, filed a petition against section 377 of the Indian penal code, an 1861 British colonial law that criminalizes “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.”
In 2009, the Delhi High Court struck down section 377 in a precedent-setting ruling celebrated by activists, human rights and legal experts worldwide. Citing Nehru and Ambedkar, architects of the Indian constitution, the High Court upheld “constitutional morality” and equality over this colonial era law. However in December 2013, the Supreme Court of India set aside the 2009 verdict and upheld section 377, recriminalizing LGBT people in India.
In an ironic twist of history, defenders of section 377 in India argued that decriminalizing homosexuality is “contrary to Indian culture,” and that “homosexuality represents western values.” In fact, homosexuality was never criminalized in India prior to the British, and pre-colonial societies in India were replete with diversity of gender identity and sexual orientation. Section 377 in India was the first of such laws, which later spread throughout the colonial empire, to be enacted by the British. Today, this colonial legacy remains responsible for half of the laws worldwide that criminalize people on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Thus the fight against section 377 in India is significant not only because of its impact on the second most populous country in the world, it also has far reaching implications for the struggle to remove these colonial era laws worldwide. In the famous words of Jawaharlal Nehru, "there is no easy walk-over to freedom anywhere.”
Filmed in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Lucknow and rural India, No Easy Walk to Freedom exposes the human rights violations under section 377 against a backdrop of the growth of queer organizing in India and the historic legal battle to overturn the colonial law.
Easy Walk to Freedom, is one outcome from Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights, a
large international research and documentary project led by Nancy Nicol.
Envisioning is comprised of 31 partners based in Africa, the Caribbean, India
and Canada, working together to share resources, knowledge and research to advance
LGBT human rights. It
is housed at the Centre for Feminist Research, York University, Toronto,
Please see our website for other
project-related research and outcomes.
"There is no easy walk-over to freedom anywhere,
and many of us will have to pass through
the valley of the shadow again and before
we reach the mountain tops of our desire."
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
A Survey of Congress Politics
Easy Walk to Freedom
92 min. 2014
Producer / Director: Nancy Nicol
Producer: Pearl Sandhu
of Photography: Shakeb Ahmed
Manager: Gurbeen Bhasin
Research & Production Assistant: Phyllis Waugh
Editor: Kaija Siirala
Line Producer: Sakaar Puri
Assistant Editor: Adonay Guerrero
consultation: Naisargi Dave
Sound: Pratik Biswas
Sound Supervisor and Mixer: Daniel Pellerin
Mixing Facility: Theatre D Digital, The Royal
On-Line Editor: Andrew Mandziuk
On Line Facility: Fearless Films
Music: Toronto Table Ensemble
by: The Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada
thanks to the following organizations:
Naz Foundation (India) Trust, Delhi.
Milan Centre, Naz Foundation (India) Trust, Delhi.