29
Jun
09

LGBT rights in India: A contentious issue

Forty years after the the world witnessed the start of the gay rights movement in the form of New York’s Stonewall riots, Chennai became the latest city to hold a gay-parade. It felt nice seeing so many people of  alternative sexualities coming out in the open in flamboyance. Love it or hate it, homosexuality is here to stay. It is high time that we realise that the LGBT community are also human beings just like any of us.

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is a highly debated subject in the media of late. The legislation has been misused by the police to harass gays and other sexual minorities for years now. Critics of the gay movement have been arguing that homosexuality is a western idea, which I find is totally absurd. Before the arrival of the British India used to be home to one of the most sexually liberated societies of the world. It was Vatsyayana, an Indian who taught the world the art of the Kamasutra. Stone carvings belonging to ancient India depict men having sex with men. Why, even bestiality has been depicted in these age old images.  The anti-gay laws were drafted in 1860 by the British at the height of the Victorian era, a time when Britain was in one of its most culturally conservative phases. So why this hypocritical idea that homosexuality is a western concept and we Indians should shun it?

Now if you are among those retards who think gays are sinners and Section 377 should be impossed stringently, then you should also realise the law does not just affect gays, but straight people like you and me too. This is what the law reads: “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.” In simple words the law says that anal or oral sex even between opposite sexes is a crime. Britain repealed its anti-gay laws in 1967, but 42 years down the line, India is still in the dark ages with respect to same sex relations. Critics allege that decriminalising gay-sex would increase child abuse cases and even spread HIV/AIDS. But fact of the matter is that it has proven to be the opposite. The government should rather change its rape laws so that both the genders are included as victims in it.

The current government has been so far taking a positive approach towards the issue. However law minister Mr.Veerappa Moily’s statement that ‘all groups would be consulted before taking a decision’, is not in the right direction. It is obvious that religious groups especially the Catholic Church will oppose any amendment in the law. India is a secular country and its laws should not be influenced by any religion. I’m a Catholic, but at the same time I’m also a human being. The Bible says gays are a disgrace, but the same Bible also says love one another and treat everyone equally. Not everything said in the Bible is right. You just have to take the positives out of  it, or any religious text for that matter.

India may still have a long way to go for gay-marriages, but at least decriminalising homosexuality would help it in being labelled a progressive country. But at the end of the day, it is not just the law books that matter, what goes on in our minds also play a major role. For years LGBT people have been subject to social stigma. ‘Normal’ people have been calling them ‘abnormal’ and a blot in the society. Unless and until we see a change in the homophobic attitude of the society, gays will still choose to remain in the closet. Homosexuality is nothing against nature, in fact even animals have been known to show homosexual behaviour. Why should we heterosexuals have problems with homosexuals, when they don’t have any problems with our sexuality. Right to Equality is a fundamental right in the democracy of ours, and it should apply to all kinds of people, sexual minorities included.

P.S: I had a tough time deciding whether or not to write this article as I was afraid that my friends would brand me a gay. This is the kind of stigma I’m talking about. But fact is I’m straight and also comfortable with my sexuality. But my straightness doesn’t mean I have the right to bash gays.

I’m Straight, but not Narrow

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2 Responses to “LGBT rights in India: A contentious issue”


  1. 1 Naren
    July 3, 2009 at 05:34

    with respect to gay laws i’ve always considered india, primitive. in the US gay sex was legalised in the 60s itself. now it is legally a good thing if gay laws are changed. but socially it is not going to make much difference becoz ppl are a long way from accepting homosexuality as “normal” behaviour.

    but then again normal is boring.

    P.S. I do read ur blog, but i didnt feel like posting comments(until now).

  2. 2 timofeyevich
    July 3, 2009 at 18:54

    Actually in the US homosexuality was legalized nationwide only in 2003. But I strongly feel Indians especially the youth are much more open to gays than the US. Even though Homosexuality is not a taboo there, the majority protestant groups are known to be discriminant to gays. Since even their kids have been brought up in such ‘values’ there is still a lot of discrimination. Indians have considered for long, gay sex a taboo, but the younger generation being largely rebellious will be more accepting than the old timers.

    But what is important here is that at least now gays won’t be legally persecuted. They will now have a sense of equality at least on paper.


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