Nussbaum's Op-Ed in Indian Express on India's Sodomy Law

A law against dignity
Martha C. Nussbaum
The Indian Express
December 30, 2013

In 1982, Michael Hardwick, a gay man, was having consensual sex with a male partner in his bedroom in Atlanta, Georgia. Police officer Keith Torick entered the apartment with a warrant (for public drinking) that had been invalid for three weeks. Admitted by Hardwick's housemate, he went straight to the bedroom. Seeing the men, he announced that they were under arrest. "I said, for what? What are you doing in my bedroom?" Torick showed the warrant; Hardwick pointed out that it was invalid. Torick said it didn't matter, and they had better get dressed and come with him. "I asked Officer Torick if he would leave the room so we could get dressed and he said, there's no reason for that, because I have already seen you in your most intimate aspect." Hardwick later challenged the Georgia sodomy law in court, unsuccessfully.

Sodomy laws are intrusive and violate human dignity. People need zones of freedom around them so that they can conduct their most intimate consensual activities unobserved and without interference. A society that protects these zones of liberty is both more just to individuals and stronger as a whole than a society that allows conventional norms to tyrannise over personal dignity. Torturers and concentration camp administrators have long known that the removal of simple bodily privacy is an effective way of insulting human dignity and marking some people as not fully human.

The recent Supreme Court