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Historically speaking, India is known for its tolerance of
different customs, races, religions, and practices. No matter
the background, everyone was accepted in India. So why is it that
Historically speaking, India is known for its tolerance of different customs, races, religions, and practices. No matter the background, everyone was accepted in India. So why is it that today our society has become so rigid and narrow-minded that anyone who doesn't behave in a mainstream way is discriminated against?
This discrimination increases when it comes to the LGBT community. Same-sex love is a taboo topic in the Indian society and is not even discussed in the four walls of the home let alone in the open. Just saying the word gay is like saying Voldemort in the halls of Hogwarts, people look at you like you're a lunatic and are ready to scare you away. Everyone knows about it and yet no one is speaking about it.
If you still don't know what homosexuality is, let me break it down for you. It is the attraction, emotional and physical, towards members of the same sex. Such people are called homosexuals.
It's not that being a homosexual is a kind of deviance, it's a crime. Yes, you read right, it's a crime in India to be a homosexual.
According to section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), "Unnatural offences.whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with 1[imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation.Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offense described in this section."
This section criminalizes intercourse which is unnatural i.e. with a person of the same sex. What is ironic about this is that the IPC was enforced in 1861 by the British Government, the same British Government that has now decriminalized homosexuality.
Many conservative thinkers try to justify this section by saying that it against the Vedas the oldest religious texts of Hindus, and the majority of the population of India follows this religion. While there are no express views on the morality of official in these texts, Hinduism has many literary works where homosexual characters and themes appear. Rig-Veda, one of the four sacred texts, says 'Vikriti Evam Prakriti' which means what seems unnatural is also natural. In Christianity, there is a verse in the Bible that says man shall not lie with man and this is used as an argument against homosexuals. What many fail to realize is that this verse was converted from Greek to English, and in the Greek version, it says the man shall not lie with boy i.e. the verse is against paedophilia, something the Greek gods are known for. It is in no way against homosexuality, in fact, Lord Apollo, the Greek sun god is known for his attraction towards both man and women.
In 2001, the Naz Foundation filed a case in the Delhi High Court for the abolition of Section 377 of the IPC. This landmark case was decided by a two-judge bench on 02/07/2009. The court recognized the Right to Dignity and Privacy under the Right to life (Article 21 of the Constitution of India) which is a fundamental right and held that criminalization of consensual gay sex violated these rights.
Name of the case: Naz Foundation v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi
Citation(s): 160 Delhi Law Times 277
Judge(s) sitting: Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah
Justice S. Muralidhar
The Court did not strike down Section 377 as a whole. The section was declared unconstitutional insofar it criminalizes consensual sexual acts of adults in private. The judgment keeps intact the provision insofar as it applies to non-consensual non-vaginal intercourse and intercourse with minors. The court stated that the judgment would hold until Parliament chose to amend the law.
This decision was challenged in the Supreme Court and in an unfortunate turn of events, the Supreme Court over-ruled the decision of the Delhi High Court and once again made homosexuality a crime. The reasoning of the Supreme Court was that the Indian society is not yet fully mature to accept same sex relationships and if necessary changes are needed to decriminalize Section 377 of the IPC, it must be done by the Parliament and not by the Supreme Court.
As of now, there is no bill in the parliament regarding the same. Due to this, the LGBT community is once again feeling insecure and afraid for its future.
There is no official record but according to the report submitted by the government to the Supreme Court in 2012, there are about 2.5 million gays in India. This number doesn't include the people still in the closet due to obvious reasons.
What would happen to the future of these people if they are criminals in the eyes of law and denied their identity?
Homosexuality is not a choice; it is something you are born with. It's not like one day you wake up and decide, "Oh! Today I feel like being gay."
When no one supports us, we all seek judicial help, but what will happen when even this right is denied to you? Imagine facing all your problems without any legal backing when the society has already shunned you. Imagine being told that your feelings don't matter, that your sexual orientation has to be confined to the norms of the society and anything against it is wrong.
Just imagine waking up to all these feelings every single day of your life. And this is the life of an average homosexual person in India.