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An appeal to Nature

An appeal to Nature | homosexuality | Scoop.it

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalizes sexual activities “against the order of nature,” even if conducted voluntarily with man, woman, or animal. Many politicians and a number of religious leaders claim homosexuality is unnatural and welcomed the Supreme Court judgment. LGBT activists rebut it by citing references to animal homosexuality to prove its naturalness.

There are two issues here: Is homosexuality natural? Should nature be the guiding force of human behaviour?

Section 377, drafted in 1860, has its roots in Victorian English morality and understanding of nature. Sex was thought to be mainly for procreation, and any form of non-reproductive sex was taboo.

For many years, biologists didn’t report homosexual behaviour in animals because they were embarrassed or didn’t want to be embroiled in controversy. Dr. George Murray Levick, a surgeon and officer in the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910, was so scandalised by the homosexual behaviour of Adélie penguins, he wrote a part of his notes in code in the Greek alphabet. Only 100 copies of his manuscript, Sexual habits of the Adélie penguin, were printed for private circulation and expressly marked in bold typeface ‘Not for Publication.’

Even though biologists continue to have a rough time when they report same-sex behaviour in animals, we now know such behaviour is widespread. Almost every creature that reproduces sexually also performs same-sex. But assuming anything that occurs in the animal kingdom is good is a slippery slope.

Devising laws based on this fallacy is worse. Orangutans, penguins, and a whole lot of other animals rape. Large cats kill their own kind. Mallard ducks commit necrophilia. These are all arguably natural, basic instincts. But we abhor such behaviour. Many people adopt others’ children, a rare event in the animal world. Some birds have to be tricked into incubating and rearing cuckoo chicks. Perhaps we shouldn’t look at the entire animal kingdom, but instead examine our closest primate relatives, bonobos.

Bonobos hardly ever fight within a troop, or declare war against a neighbouring one. They resolve any potential conflict-prone situation with sex. Sex can be female-female, male-female, or male-male. All members of the species are bisexual. Yet, the widespread conflict in most human societies makes us seem aggressive like chimpanzees. Is one of these behaviours more artificial than the other?

Which animal sends its children to school? Does any animal leave its home range to travel to another side of the planet to reside for weeks in a contrived ritual called holiday? No animal looks after its old, weak, and non-productive parents and grandparents, nor does any creature practise contraception and abortion. Are these unique behaviours artificial and contrived? Should they be criminalized?

Clearly, there are some condemnable natural acts and some commendable unnatural ones. Can we infer moral lessons from nature? No. The natural-as-good label may be appropriate for shampoo but not for the way we behave. Humans aren’t extraterrestrials. We share an evolutionary heritage with other living creatures on this planet. When homosexuality and bisexuality occur widely in nature, it’s no surprise it occurs in humans as well.

According to the ninth edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, ‘nature’ is: “(1) A fundamental quality that distinguishes one thing from another; the essence of something. (2) A wild condition, untouched by civilization. (3) A disposition or personality of someone or something. (4) Something pure or true as distinguished from something artificial or contrived. (5) The basic instincts or impulses of someone or something.”

Do same-sex relationships exist in the wild, untouched by civilization? Yes. Is homosexuality artificial or contrived? No. Is homosexuality a basic instinct or disposition for some? Yes. Then, how can anyone conclude homosexuality is against the order of nature? No animal is homophobic. So if anything is against the order of nature, it’s homophobia.

Keywords: my husband and other animals column, Section 377, homosexual behaviour in animals, same-sex behaviour in animals, Bonobos

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Gay community finds 'comfort' on social media - Lifestyle - dna

Gay community finds 'comfort' on social media - Lifestyle -  dna | homosexuality | Scoop.it
Gay community finds 'comfort' on social mediaMonday, Jan 20, 2014, 17:24 IST | Place: NEW YORK | Agency: IANS

Filtering through YouTube video messages, an Indian-origin scientist has concluded that members belonging to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community find the most comfort in messages that both support them and advocate social change.

"I was inspired when I saw the grassroots online movement that started in late 2010 of people posting video messages to teenagers who faced prejudice and harassment based on their actual or presumed sexual orientation," said Aneeta Rattan of London Business School.

"As a researcher, I realised that this behaviour - publicly addressing prejudice toward another group and communicating support for members of that group - is so rare that there is not a clear body of psychological science on it," she said.

Along with collaborator Nalini Ambady, who died in October last year, of Stanford University, she decided to use the 'It Gets Better' YouTube campaign as a window into the content and impact of such 'intergroup' communication.

Rattan and Ambady analysed the content of the 50 most viewed videos with the #ItGetsBetter hashtag, which together were viewed over 15 million times, said the study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

They 'coded' the messages in the videos as either messages of comfort, of social connection, or of social change.

Social connection messages focused on the idea that LGBT teenagers targeted by prejudice would find social acceptance in the future.

Social change messages focused on the idea that the situation can, should, or would change, the study noted.

While all messages communicated comfort and many included messages about social connection, only 22 percent mentioned social change, the study noted.

"Social media today is a new frontier for communicating intergroup attitudes," said Rattan.

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Judge ignored affidavits in gay ruling: Lawyers for LGBT community : North, News - India Today

Judge ignored affidavits in gay ruling: Lawyers for LGBT community : North, News - India Today | homosexuality | Scoop.it
Judge ignored affidavits in gay ruling: Lawyers for LGBT communityHarish V. Nair   |   Mail Today  |   New Delhi, December 14, 2013 | UPDATED 09:58 IST   

Lawyers representing the LGBT community have been taken by surprise by the Supreme Court's observation that the pro-gay rights activists failed to furnish details of police harassment and assault.

They claim that not only were elaborate particulars and statistics furnished before the court, but three gory cases were also presented before the judges. The data also detailed how one of the victims committed suicide by self-immolation.

"It seems the judgment was written in a tearing hurry. Crucial material and evidence we had furnished to prove harassment and assault has been ignored by the bench and in the verdict it says enough proof and details have not been produced," senior advocate Ashok Desai, who had represented film director Shyam Benegal, said.

Another senior lawyer Menaka Guruswamy said, "The affidavits filed by the gangrape victims, many gays, lesbians and transgenders and also parents, were read out in the court. The fact that they were not considered is a serious lapse by the judge."

"On May 1, 2006, an 18-year-old transgender was picked up by police ostensibly looking for his brother on suspicion of theft. The family members were told that he would be released once he gave them his brother's whereabouts but he was also made an accused. Everyday thereafter, a police constable would arrive at his house and take him to the police station. He would return home around 11 P.M. at night, tired, worn down, and refusing food. Initially, he refused to tell his sister what happened, but she insisted and he eventually broke down and told her that the police were sexually and physically abusing him every day," Desai said, recalling the ordeal of the victim.

Unable to bear the shame, the victim committed suicide, the senior lawyer said.

Affidavit one

"I identify myself as a gay. I am also a volunteer for an HIV/AIDS organisation. On September 19, 2006, I was standing at Dhaula Kuan bus stand when two policemen picked me up and accused me of being a homosexual saying "tub hi wahi hai. They beat me with lathis targeting my groin and buttocks. Once in police station they said they could put me "inside" on false charges. They kept beating me. One of them took me to an inner room where other policemen were sleeping. The one accompanying me woke up one of them and said "dekh main tere liye kya tofa laya hoon". They then forced me take off all my clothes. Four policemen then raped me. One of them forced me to have oral sex with him while the other three had forced anal sex as well as oral sex with me and none of them used a condom. They let me off only next morning."

Affidavit two

"I identify myself as a hijra. On the night of June 18, 2004, I was raped by 10 goondas. When police arrived at the spot they ran away. In the police station I was subjected to brutal torture. They removed my clothes and touched my private parts and made sarcastic comments. I was subjected to prolonged sexual abuse before they released me. The police and goondas feel free to rape me as they feel that anyway my very existence as a transgender is illegal in this country."



Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/lgbt-community-supreme-court-gays-lesbians-transgenders-rape-gangrape/1/331166.html
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India Today: India News, Latest India News, Breaking News India, News in India, World, Business, Cricket, Sports, Bollywood News India

India Today: India News, Latest India News, Breaking News India, News in India, World, Business, Cricket, Sports, Bollywood News India | homosexuality | Scoop.it
India Today brings India Latest News, Breaking News India, Top Politics News India, World Latest News, Cricket News, Sports News, Business News, Bollywood News, Entertainment News, Science Technology News and Many India Latest Breaking News.
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Gay refugees in India by Rajeev Dhavan : Opinion, News - India Today

Gay refugees in India by Rajeev Dhavan : Opinion, News - India Today | homosexuality | Scoop.it
Gay refugees in India by Rajeev DhavanRajeev Dhavan   |   Mail Today  |   New Delhi, January 13, 2014 | UPDATED 09:41 IST   

On January 3, 2014, it was reported that the United States ( U. S.) granted asylum to a gay couple, Jagdish Kumar and Sukwinder who fled India in June 2012 because of pressure on Jagdish to marry a girl.

They did not try and sneak into the U. S. but surrendered to the U. S. immigration authorities asking for asylum at the Mexican border. The case was supported by an NGO called Immigration Equality which specialises in gay and lesbian cases. The U. S. judge was doubly convinced following India's Supreme Court judgement re- criminalizing same- sex behaviour which was brought to the attention of the U. S. judge.

This has important implications for India's gays and lesbians of same- sex orientation.

Status

India and Pakistan are not signatories to the U. N. convention on Refugees 1951, but are on its Executive Committee. We are not concerned with this clever ploy by these nations. In any case, gays are hardly going to ask for asylum in India given the Supreme Court's catastrophic judgement of December 2013. Or in Pakistan.

Many countries allow gays and lesbians to apply for asylum.



But other countries do accord refugee status to same- sex oriented people.

Under the Convention of 1951 two elements concern us. A refugee must have ( a) a well- founded fear of persecution, ( b) on grounds of race, religion nationality, membership of social group or political opinion.

 

We are concerned with the definition of the term ' social group.' Different interpretations have been given to this phrase. In 1985, the UNHCR Conclusion 30 treated women and girls as a social group under refugee law. In 1993, UNHCR Conclusion 73, required victims of sexual violence to be sympathetically treated.

This has to be read with other U. N. Conventions of Women and Children of 1979, 1993 and the Beijing Declaration 1995.

But are we concerned whether homosexuals are a ' social group'? One definition is those who face harsh or human treatment are a group ( UNHCR Conclusion 39 concerning women). But this ' treatment of victimised group' test requires evidence to show group treatment.

There was further clarification to treat women and children as a group on the basis of social perception. The UNHCR Handbook ( 1992) defines particular social group as normally of similar social backgrounds, habits or social status.

The U. S. view in Acosta ( 1995) includes " a group of persons all of whom share a common characteristic" is clumsy but was accepted in Toboso- Alfonso 1990 as including sexual orientation. But in Sanchez- Trufillo ( 1986) a more limited approach was to determine the group's cohesiveness. The proposed test of 2,000 of " common immutable characteristic" is narrower still. But in America ' sex orientation' is a recognised ' group' under refugee law.

Recognition

In 1995, New Zealand included sex orientation as a group, following the US Acosta common protected characteristics test. In France in Ourbih ( 1998), transsexuals, and in Djellal ( 1999) homosexuals were recognised as a refugee social group. In Germany, an Iranian homosexual was recognised as a refugee.

The Dutch gave protection to homosexuals but on a different basis of persecuted category. In U. K, after Islam and Shah ( 1999), the test is the protected characteristics test, indicating an individual cannot leave the group without renouncing fundamental rights. Canada's ' Ward' test ( 1993) would certainly apply to homosexuals even though the test needs fixing. Equally, Australia's Applicant A ( 1997) applied the externally perceived test to homosexuals.

These various jurisdictions are potential countries offering asylum for persecuted Indian homosexuals. In all these jurisdictions, homosexuals from India would qualify as a " social group" that comes under refugee law. The next step is to show that the " well- founded fear of persecution." In India this is obvious because of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code ( IPC) and the interpretation given in the Naz Foundation case ( 2013).

This, by itself, may be enough.

Dossier

But I would also suggest that Naz or other groups keep a general dossier on social and state persecution of homosexuals because Justice Singhvi's assertion that homosexuals are a microscopic minority with only 200 reported cases seems to downplay the existence of homosexuals in India. In some countries only State and Political persecution is the test, but in a lot of countries social persecution from civil society is included as a well- founded fear of persecution.

Individuals should also keep some record of how they are ostracised, rejected, discriminated, attacked and therefore persecuted.

This total dossier should be placed on a website ( names anonymized, but available).

Indian cynics may say Jagdish and Sukhwinder deliberately went the Mexico route and the refugee candour shown at the border was a ploy. But their story was real enough. Pressure was being put on Jagdish in India to marry. Whatever the route, forcing heterosexual marriage on a homosexual is certainly persecution.

He left India with his gay partner because they could not live in peace in India and would have been forced to give up their natural and fundamental rights.

Such sacrifices are onerous under refugee and human rights law.

It is a sad statement for any society, state or nation to tell citizens and people living there that they cannot live without persecution in their own countries and society. But India could further not allow foreign homosexuals here as well. These could be the unfortunate consequences of the Naz case that is to project India as a khap panchayat.

Our politicians ( except proponents of Hindutva) claim they will change the law. Given a possible voting backlash, will they?

The writer is a Supreme Court lawyer.



Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/gays-as-refugees-in-their-own-land/1/335873.html
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समलैंगिकताः कहीं खुल्लम खुल्ला, कहीं हो-हल्ला

समलैंगिकताः कहीं खुल्लम खुल्ला, कहीं हो-हल्ला | homosexuality | Scoop.it
समलैंगिकताः कहीं खुल्लम खुल्ला, कहीं हो-हल्लाआईबीएन-7 | Nov 26, 2008 at 07:46pm | Updated Nov 26, 2008 at 08:15pmMore on:#Homosexuality# Debate

नई दिल्ली। एक ओर प्यार का जुनून है तो दूसरी ओर कानून। भारत के समलैंगिक मुश्किल में हैं। समाज हिकारत की नजर से देखता है और कानून भी एक दायरा मुहैया कराता है। भारत में होमोसेक्सुएलटी यानी समलैंगिकता पूरी तरह ग़ैर-क़ानूनी है। यहां तक की INDIAN PENAL CODE की धारा 377 के तहत इसके लिए दस साल तक की क़ैद और जुर्माने का प्रावधान है।

चीन, ग्रीस, टर्की और इटली जैसे बड़े देश भी इस मामले में भारत के साथ खड़े दिखते हैं। जबकि ब्रिटेन, Belgium, Canada, Holland, South Africa और Spain में होमोसेक्सुअलटी को कानूनी मान्यता मिल चुकी है।

ब्रिटेन में 2000 में ही समलैंगिकता को कानूनी मान्यता हासिल हो गई थी। यहां सेना के दरवाज़े भी समलैंगिकों के लिए खुले हैं। ब्रिटेन ने 2005 में समलैंगिक शादी को भी कानूनी मान्यता दे दी।

इसके अलावा फ्रांस, स्विट्ज़रलैण्ड और जर्मनी ऐसे देश हैं, जहां समलैंगिकता को कानूनी दर्ज़ा तो नहीं मिला। लेकिन इस पर किसी तरह का प्रतिबंध भी नहीं है। अमेरिका में पिछले कई सालों से समलैंगिकता पर कानूनी बहस छिड़ी हुई है। यहां कैलिफोर्निया और मैसाचुसेट्स में इसे वैधता मिल गई है। लेकिन पूरे देश में इस पर कोई फैसला नहीं लिया गया।

कुछ समलैंगिक अपनी शादी बड़ी धूमधाम से करते हैं।मशहूर पॉप स्टार सर एल्टन जॉन की शादी भी कुछ ऐसी ही थी। सर एल्टन जॉन ने जब डेविड फरनिस से शादी की तो दुनिया देखती ही रह गई। ब्रिटेन के सिविल पार्टनरशिप लॉ के तहत ये पहला पुरुष समलैंगिक विवाह था। शादी का मुख्य समारोह लंदन के Windsor Guild हॉल में आयोजित किया गया। ये वही हॉल था जहां प्रिंस चार्ल्स और केमिला पार्कर शादी के बंधन में बंधे थे।

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पटना में समलैंगिकों ने 'गे प्राइड परेड' निकाली

पटना में समलैंगिकों ने 'गे प्राइड परेड' निकाली | homosexuality | Scoop.it
पटना में समलैंगिकों ने 'गे प्राइड परेड' निकालीआईएएनएस | Jun 29, 2012 at 04:51pm | Updated Jun 29, 2012 at 06:12pmMore on:#gay parade# patna# homosexual# lesbian# rally

पटना। बिहार में पहली बार राजधानी पटना में शुक्रवार को समलैंगिकों ने 'गे प्राइड परेड' का आयोजन किया। इसका मुख्य उद्देश्य समाज में समलैंगिकों की उपस्थिति दर्ज कराना है। ये परेड पटना के ऐतिहासिक गांधी मैदान से प्रारम्भ होकर फ्रेजर रोड होते हुए डाक बंगला चौराहे पर पहुंचकर समाप्त हो गई। परेड में शामिल समलैंगिक 'हमें भी जीने का अधिकार चाहिए', 'गे प्राइड परेड' जैसे नारे लिखे बैनर हाथ में लिए बैंड-बाजों की धुन पर नाचते-गाते रहे।

परेड में शामिल सोनी ने बताया, "इस परेड का मुख्य उद्देश्य समाज में समलैंगिकों की पहचान बनाना है। हम लोगों को परिवार से अलग होने तथा समाज के लोगों के बीच उचित स्थान नहीं मिलने के कारण काफी परेशानियों का समना करना पड़ता है। हमारी कोई मांग नहीं है बस हम समाज में अपनी उपस्थिति दर्ज कराना चाहते हैं।"

'दोस्तना सफर' संस्था द्वारा आयोजित इस परेड में वैसे तो समलैंगिकों की संख्या 18 से 20 थी लेकिन परेड में शामिल समलैंगिकों का कहना है कि बिहार में ऐसा आयोजन पहली बार किया गया जिस कारण इसमें ज्यादा लोग शामिल नहीं हो सके। उन्होंने कहा कि वे भी समाज का एक अंग हैं और समाज के साथ मिलकर रहना व चलना चाहते हैं।

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पाकिस्तान में पहली समलैंगिक वेबसाइट पर पाबंदी

पाकिस्तान में पहली समलैंगिक वेबसाइट पर पाबंदी | homosexuality | Scoop.it
पाकिस्तान में पहली समलैंगिक वेबसाइट पर पाबंदीवार्ता | Sep 27, 2013 at 10:59amMore on:#Pakistan# Homosexual# Website# Banned# Internet

इस्लामाबाद। रुढ़िवादी मुस्लिम देश पाकिस्तान में पहली समलैंगिक वेबसाइट को कल बंद कर दिया गया। इस वेबसाइट के जरिए समलैंगिकों को मिलने-जुलने और एक-दूसरे का समर्थन करने में सहायता मिलती थी। www.quueerpk.com नामक यह वेबसाइट समलैंगिकों उभयलिंगियों और किन्नरों के लिए विचारों के आदान-प्रदान और संपर्क स्थापित करने मे सहायक थी। आमतौर पर खामोश रहने वाला यह समुदाय गत जुलाई में शुरू किए गए पाकिस्तान के इस पहले ऑनलाइन प्लेटफॉर्म को की सराहना कर रहा था।

पाकिस्तान दूरसंचार प्राधिकरण ने इस वेबसाइट को कल बंद कर दिया। इसे बंद किए जाने पर तीखी प्रतिक्रिया व्यक्त करते हुए वेबसाइट ने एक ईमेल में कहा कि सरकार हर उस चीज पर प्रतिबंध लगा देगी जो प्रगतिशील हो और अल्पसंख्यकों के अधिकारों के बारे में बात करती हो। सरकार हमेशा रुढिवादी लोगों को खुश और संतुष्ट करने के काम करती रहती है।

प्राधिकरण ने इस बारे में कोई टिप्पणी करने से इंकार कर दिया। वेबसाइट पाकिस्तान के बाहर देखी जा सकती है। इस पर कहा गया है- हमसे नफरत न करो, हमारे बारे मे जानो।

18 करोड़ लोगों वाले देश पाकिस्तान में समलैगिकता गैरकानूनी है और बहुत से लोगों का मानना है कि यह गैर इस्लामिक है। पाकिस्तान में अवांछनीय वेबसाइटों को अक्सर बंद कर दिया जाता है। इंटरनेट कुछ माध्यमों में से एक है जहां लोग खुलकर अपनी बात कह सकते हैं। इंटरनेट उपभोक्ता अक्सर प्रॉक्सी र्सवर का इस्तेमाल करके इन प्रतिबंधित साइटों को देखते रहते हैं।

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समलैंगिकों ने भी कहा, हमारा वोट कांग्रेस को

समलैंगिकों ने भी कहा, हमारा वोट कांग्रेस को | homosexuality | Scoop.it
आप यहाँ हैं » होम » लाइफस्टाइल  समलैंगिकों ने भी कहा, हमारा वोट कांग्रेस कोआईएएनएस | Apr 28, 2009 at 06:19pm | Updated Apr 28, 2009 at 07:50pm More on: #Homosexual # Voter #election2009  

नई दिल्ली। स्त्री एवं पुरुष समलैंगिक, उभयलिंगी और ट्रांसजेंडर (एलजीबीटी) समुदाय को भले ही भेदभावपूर्ण कानूनों से मुकाबले में किसी राजनीतिक दल का समर्थन न मिला हो लेकिन इस चुनाव में उसके सदस्य कांग्रेस को वोट देंगे क्योंकि उनका मानना है कि वह औरों की अपेक्षा अधिक सहिष्णु पार्टी है।

 

एड्स के खिलाफ संयुक्त राष्ट्र के कार्यक्रम यूएनएड्स के अधिकारियों के मुताबिक देश में समलैंगिकों की संख्या के बारे में आधिकारिक आंकड़े उपलब्ध नहीं हैं। दरअसल ऐसे आंकड़ों को एकत्रित करना भारतीय दंड संहिता (आईपीसी) की धारा 377 के तहत अवैध है लेकिन अनुमानों के मुताबिक देश की आबादी का पांच फीसदी हिस्सा समलैंगिक है।

 

इतिहास के विद्वान और समलैंगिक अधिकार कार्यकर्ता सलीम किदवई के मुताबिक इतनी बड़ी संख्या होने के बावजूद किसी दल ने उनके मुद्दे पर ध्यान नहीं दिया। एक अन्य समलैंगिक अधिकार कार्यकर्ता प्रमदा मेनन के मुताबिक कुछ राजनीतिक हलकों में समलैंगिकों को लेकर सकारात्मक रुझान देखा जा रहा है।

 

उन्होंने कहा कि मुंबई में कार्यकर्ताओं ने कुछ राजनीतिक दलों से संपर्क किया और उन्हें सकारात्मक जवाब मिला हालांकि ऐसा बहुत कम ही देखने को मिल रहा है। मतदान के बारे में समुदाय के अधिकांश सदस्यों की राय कांग्रेस और संयुक्त प्रगतिशील गठबंधन (संप्रग) के पक्ष में जाती है।

 

पेशे से दंत चिकित्सक श्रीवाथ ने कहा कि वह व्यक्तिगत रूप से संप्रग सरकार का समर्थन करेंगे क्योंकि उन्हें नहीं लगता कि किसी और के पास उतना धैर्य है।

  

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Happily non-married - Hindustan Times

Happily non-married - Hindustan Times | homosexuality | Scoop.it

Democracy is often misunderstood as defined simply by majority opinion. In fact, modern parliamentary democracy, including Indian democracy, has evolved with in-built checks and balances to protect minorities (including minorities of opinion) and dissenting individuals from majority tyranny.

 

In marriage and family matters, minority groups have often suffered majority tyranny. In such situations, minority communities may recognise marriages that the State does not. This happens even in the West but on a much larger scale in India. For example, British law prohibits bigamy and most Muslims in Britain disapprove of it, yet some Muslim bigamous marriages have taken place in mosques in Britain. These weddings do not have any validity according to British law, but they are valid as per Muslim law and the community. Similarly, in India, after the State changed the Hindu law in 1955, Hindu bigamous marriages, which used to be legal, have become illegal. Yet some do take place and the second wife often enjoys the status of wife in the community rather than of mistress.

At first glance, it might seem that all marriages recognised by communities but not by the State must be bad for women and backward-looking. However, this is not true. Historically and even today, many communities are ahead of the State in their willingness to recognise unions that the State refuses to validate.

Take the example of religious minorities. Prior to 1753, the British government did not recognise any marriages that had not been performed by the Anglican Church. Therefore, Quaker and Jewish marriages were not recognised as legal. This is because the State recognised only one religion as legitimate — that of the Anglican Church. But Quakers and Jews did marry and considered themselves married. Were these marriages or not? They were married in the eyes of their own communities and of other enlightened people, but not in the eyes of the State. Looking back today, we would say that these unions were marriages, even though the State did not recognise them.

A similar question arose in India when the 19th century reformist sect, the Brahmo Samaj, began performing a simplified Hindu wedding ceremony. In 1868, a court declared these marriages invalid, because orthodox Hindu leaders did not consider the Brahmo Samajis Hindus. To remedy the situation, the first civil marriage law in India, the Special Marriage Act, was passed in 1872. It created a huge controversy; those arguing in its favour pointed out since so many forms of Hindu marriage already existed, the Act was just adding another one.

The Indian government’s refusal to recognise same-sex marriages performed by Hindu priests place these marriages in a situation analogous to that of Quaker and Jewish marriages in  the 18th century and the Brahmo marriages between 1868 and 1872. Like Christian priests, Hindu priests too vary in their approaches to marriage. A Hindu Shaiva priest I spoke to in 2002 said that he knew that other priests in his lineage would be shocked by his officiating at the marriage of two women. Having thought about it, however, he had become convinced that it was the right thing to do, because marriage is a union of spirits and Hindu texts clearly state that the spirit is neither male nor female.

The Hindu Marriage Act states, “A marriage may be solemnised between any two Hindus, if the following conditions are fulfilled.” The list of conditions prohibits bigamy, insanity, marriage before the age of 21 for the groom and 18 for the bride, and certain forms of biological relationship between the two, unless these forms are permitted by community customs. The gender of the ‘two Hindus’ is not stated. However, gender is assumed and appears in the third requirement: “The bridegroom has completed the age of 21 and the bride the age of 18 at the time of the marriage.” The terms ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ appear many times thereafter in the Act. Most people would assume that a bride is biologically female and a groom male. But this isn’t the only possible understanding of who a bride is and who is a groom. In most of the lesbian weddings reported in India over the last two decades, one woman presented herself as the groom and the other presented herself as the bride. Several couples performed the rite of the groom by putting sindoor in the bride’s hair-parting.

When two women in India publicly claim the right to marry, they seem to rest this claim in part on their presentation of themselves as a couple in which one woman is the bride and the other the groom, even though both are female. The degree to which the families and the community accept this claim often appears to be inseparable from the degree to which they accept the marriage. Some communities are thus able to integrate female-female marriage into their interpretation of Hindu law, by recognising one woman as the groom and the other as the bride.

This, however, does not always work. Raju, who married childhood friend Mala in December 2004, had short hair, wore jeans and leather jackets, and had a male-sounding name while Mala wore bangles, a symbol of marriage. After their marriage, which was conducted by a Hindu priest in Delhi, they returned to their hometown, Amritsar, where Raju told reporters, “We have vowed to live together for the rest of our lives as husband and wife.” Mala threatened to commit suicide if they were forcibly separated, and said, “I have left my family for her.” But their families and neighbours remained extremely hostile and boycotted them, so they had to go into hiding. This social pressure was in part responsible for the couple’s separation later.

Can the democratic State prevent people from entering into same-sex unions or punish them for doing so? Unlike bigamy, same-sex marriages are not punishable in India or the West because marriage is not equivalent to the performance of any sexual act. Even the police seem to recognise this distinction. When two Muslim men, Harfan, 28, the groom, and Mustafa, 22, the bride, got married in Garhmukteshwar, Ghaziabad in 2004, Harfan’s relatives handed both men over to the police, but the police refused to arrest them, because while sodomy is a crime in Indian law, same-sex marriage is not. If the registration of marriage is made compulsory, it will not stop same-sex couples from marrying. However, enforcing it will undermine India’s uniquely respectful approach to diversity, and the unique opportunity we have to add same-sex marriage to this diversity without going through protracted legal battles — simply by recognising the marriages that are already taking place by customary ceremonies.

Ruth Vanita is Professor at the University of Montana and was founding co-editor of Manushi. This is an edited extract from Law Like Love: Queer Perspectives on Law, edited by Arvind Narrain and Alok Gupta, Yoda Press. The views expressed by the author are personal.

- See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/comment/edits/happily-non-married/article1-709812.aspx#sthash.PSLglUFF.dpuf

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Taking a comprehensive view of sexual violence | openDemocracy

Taking a comprehensive view of sexual violence | openDemocracy | homosexuality | Scoop.it
Taking a comprehensive view of sexual violenceGEETANJALI MISRA and VRINDA MARWAH 30 September 2013

It has been 9 months since the iconic Delhi gang rape. Even as women’s groups struggle to retain the focus on violence against women, we must extend this focus to all women - especially women marginalised on the basis of their sexuality, say Geetanjali Misra and Vrinda Marwah

Delhi Pride march (c) Crea

On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old woman was brutally beaten and gang-raped on a bus in New Delhi. She died from her injuries thirteen days later, and in the weeks that followed, waves of protests took place across India. People came out in large numbers, seeking justice and demanding freedom (azaadi) for women- freedom from violence, and freedom to wear what they want, to walk the streets at night. They asserted the need to protect women’s rights, not their bodies. Misogynist comments by certain religious and political leaders were vehemently denounced, including on primetime television. Many questioned the rampant objectification of women in the media; some of these statements morphed into outright anxiety about the expression of women’s sexuality. Men joined in, and some of these men actively called out aggressive masculinities as part of the problem. Several articles and conversations on rape culture circulated. Some of these were useful, such as Sohaila Abdulali’s piece in the New York Times,  'I Was Wounded; My Honor Wasn't, which challenged the idea that rape is a fate ‘worse than death’ and asserted instead that rape injures a woman, not her honour. Some were quite useless, such as those in the international media that projected Indian culture and Indian men as uniquely and virulently misogynist. As is not unusual, the conversation on rights did not always take place from a human rights perspective; calls for the death penalty and chemical castration for the accused were made, and countered, but continued to persist. Just last week, after months of trial, the remaining four accused (one hanged himself in prison, and one received a reduced sentence as a juvenile) were sentenced to death by a South Delhi court.

On the whole, the collective activism of those weeks succeeded in placing the issue of violence against women squarely on the national agenda in ways unprecedented in the recent past. In response, the Justice Verma Commissionwas set up by the government, which came out with a landmark report affirming women’s sexual autonomy. Eventually, the parliament passed changes to the country’s sexual assault laws, accepting certain recommendations of the JVC report such as expansion of the definition and quantum of punishment for sexual assault, while excluding significant others such as the non-inclusion of marital rape, and the non-removal of prior sanction required to prosecute security forces for sexual offences.

Today, nine months later, sexual assault continues to be reported with disquieting frequency. Some cases generate more conversation and action than others, such as the recent gang-rape of a photo-journalist in an abandoned Mumbai mill. But the December 16th case and the struggle that it sparked have become iconic. Its victories are by no means sufficient—indeed they remain fragile and too easily reversible—but they have given violence against women a proverbial foot in the door of public imagination. A space for conversations on women’s human rights has opened up, one that women’s groups globally are trying to hold on to, even widen.

In a world that sees women’s sexuality as the ultimate vehicle to their purity and pollution, sexual violence has traditionally received more attention than other women’s rights issues. Many in feminist movements have been arguing that sexual violence needs to be located within a broader continuum of violence that affects women’s lives, and includes many other forms of violence, such as the structural violence of poverty and social insecurity. These everyday inequities may not have the same shock value, but are as acute and pressing. We are guilty of privileging sexual violence over other forms of violence against women; this is borne out by our campaigns, our language, our victories and our histories. We must be mindful of the effects that this generates; even as the issue of sexual violence is by no means settled, there are ways in which it renders invisible other agendas.

Also, we must honestly ask ourselves - within a conversation on sexual violence, are we able to be affirmative and inclusive?

Freedom from violence is one half of the conversation on women’s human rights; we cannot understand or address it without speaking simultaneously of freedom to - the positive right of women to self-determination and self-realisation. But alas, affirmation is often much harder to pull off. We saw yet again in India in the past months that it was easier to focus on how ‘insensitive’ society is to women, than it was, for instance, to argue that India’s youth have a right to comprehensive sexuality education. Sexual violence is a denial of a woman’s right to say no and yes to sex; it is a rejection of her status as an independent sexual being. But the negativity and squeamishness associated with sex means that even though sexuality education can be about so much - healthy behaviours, sensitive attitudes, a rejection of violence, and an affirmation of rights -  the demand for the right to comprehensive sexuality education remains confined to the usual quarters of feminists, sexual rights advocates, and some youth groups.

We know that women are not a homogenous category, and that every woman embodies the intersection of several identities of class, caste, race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. While it may be true that December 16th created the impact it did because the victim’s location (urban, lower-middle class/ aspirational, student, etc.) was a largely non-threatening one, most women’s groups after that day did not dismiss her as a relatively privileged or ‘inauthentic’ victim. Rather, a concerted effort was made to relate the case and build on the momentum behind it in order to connect it to other women everywhere - Dalit women, women from religious minorities, sex-working women, mentally and physically disabled women, women in police custody, women in conflict zones, women who are sexually abused within the home, and lesbian and trans women.  We asked if there were women out there who were thought of as ‘okay to rape’, and we argued that sex without consent is violence, no matter who the woman and what the context.

For us at CREA, this kind of deepening is critical to the conversation on sexual violence. As an organisation working on issues of sexuality, we seek to confront the fact that many women are marginalised by virtue of their non-normative sexuality. This includes sex-working, lesbian, and disabled women - women who are not usually imagined as rights-bearers, or seen as deserving of protection, because their sexual identities and practices mark them as deviants, either over-sexed or asexual. We must remember that marginalisation works to increase a woman’s risk of suffering violence from a wide range of perpetrators, both individual and institutional. This violence also reduces the likelihood that she will successfully access and receive the care that she is, in theory, entitled to. In fact, the very networks and structures that are supposed to support women at all stages of their lives (family, community, state services such as education, health, or justice) often fail those women who are most in need. This was persuasively demonstrated by the first ever multi-country research study on violence against disabled, lesbian, and sex working women in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, coordinated by CREA between 2009 and 2011, and funded by the Dutch government's MDG 3 Fund. 

Kishori group meeting, Mahoba, Uttar Pradesh. Photo (c) Charlotte Anderson

This study threw up important new evidence from the South Asian region on the stigma, discrimination, violence, and structural exclusion faced by women whose sexual identity and practices do not conform to prevailing norms. Findings reveal commonalities and differences in the nature of violence faced by these three groups. Many lesbians did not disclose their same-sex relationships and led double lives instead. They described feeling isolated and traumatized because of this, and families that suspected or knew about their same-sex relationships would resort to beatings, strict monitoring of their movements, pressurizing them to marry etc. In the case of sex workers, daily exposure to violence, particularly sexual violence, at the hands of the police, clients, male partners, brothel keepers and society at large compounded their already vulnerable status. In fact, violence experienced from clients formed an overwhelming proportion of the violence faced by sex workers, especially street-based sex workers. Also significantly, sex workers reported at least one act of violence from the police during their lifetime.  

With disabled women, a very different reality was revealed, wherein the primary site of violence and abuse is often the family, including intimate partners. For instance, the families of disabled women often offered generous dowries to get them married off. Husbands whose families had forced them into such marriages would later be abusive towards their wives. Families also exercised great control over the finances, mobility, and health care of these women; most disabled respondents reported abuse from siblings when they were dependent on their care, for instance. Their disability made the respondents easy targets of verbal and physical sexual harassment on public transport, and even for another kind of sexual violence- forced sterilisation without their knowledge.

For all three categories, stigma and discrimination is deeply prevalent and comes from family, friends, community members, and health service providers. Respondents faced exclusion from social gatherings, they were unable to secure jobs, accommodation, healthcare, and were denied legal rights by the state that others took for granted. The violence they faced, some of which is described above, lead to physical and psychological problems, the latter being more frequent. This left respondents feeling like they ‘deserved’ the violence; and this internalisation often prevented them from disclosing or reporting violence, and from seeking healthcare for physical problems like abdominal pain, heavy bleeding and body ache.

Findings also confirm what many have argued for long - that direct violence is often an eruption on a landscape constituted by structures of heteronormativity and patriarchy, which divest all women of control over their bodies and sexuality. For lesbian women, the societal framework that propagates heterosexuality as the norm is the key source of violence, as it makes invisible their lives and identities, and provokes abuse against them. Similarly, sex workers are seen as ‘bad women’ who do not have the right to say no to any kind of sex.

Gayle Rubin’s (1984) sexual hierarchy is an effective conceptual and political framework that discusses exactly this. Rubin argues that societies rank and respond to sex acts according to a hierarchical system of value, with marital, monogamous, heterosexual, reproductive, and non-commercial sex at the very top of the pyramid. This type of sex is rewarded with certified mental health, respectability, legality, social and physical mobility, and institutional and material benefits. As we travel lower down the pyramid, the rewards turn into sanctions. A violation of these rules - through unmarried, promiscuous, homosexual, non-procreative, and commercial sex, or even inter-generational sex, use of pornography, sexual objects, or sex in more public places - is considered bad, unnatural, and abnormal. Religious, psychiatric, popular and political discourses strictly maintain and regulate these boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable sex.

And so, when we reflect on and take forward the activism of these months against sexual assault, we must honestly evaluate what sexual hierarchies we have been working with, even as feminists. It cannot be stressed enough that all women have the right to a life free from violence, and to sexual autonomy. That is the larger battle, and it must include everybody.

This article stems from a paper presented at Hivos's Movements Rethinkconference

 

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विवाद : समलिंगी संबंधों की जड़ें

महेंद्र राजा जैन

जनसत्ता 29 दिसंबर, 2013 : आज सौ से अधिक देशों में समलैंगिक संबंधों को अपराध नहीं माना जाता। हालांकि ऐसे संबंधों को वहां सामाजिक मान्यता नहीं है। स्त्री के प्रति स्त्री या पुरुष के प्रति पुरुष के लगाव को लेकर कुछ वर्ष पहले तक यही माना जाता रहा कि यह ‘हार्मोनल डिसआर्डर’ के कारण पैदा होने वाली स्वाभाविक प्रवृत्ति है। बाद में शोधकर्ताओं ने ऐसे व्यवहार को कुछ समाजों में प्रचलित सामाजिक वृत्तियों का कारण भी माना।

क्या भारतीय समाज में यह कोई नई बात है! यहां समलैंगिक व्यवहार का अस्तित्व दो हजार वर्षों से भी अधिक समय से रहा है और किसी भी समाज में इसे हेय नहीं माना गया। धारा 377 पर बहस शुरू हुई तो कुछ वर्ष पहले पढ़ी ‘सेम सेक्स लव इन इंडिया’ नामक पुस्तक का स्मरण हो आया, जिसमें संपादक-द्वय (रूथ वनिता और सलमान किदवई) ने महाभारत, पाली जातक, पंचतंत्र और कामसूत्र से लेकर पुराण, कथासरित्सागर, कृतिवास रामायण के साथ ही उर्दू और फारसी में अमीर खुसरो, जियाउद्दीन बरनी, बाबरनामा (तुर्की), मीर तकी मीर, नजीर अकबराबादी, हकीम मुहम्मद, यूसुफ हसन, फिराक गोरखपुरी, जोश मलीहाबादी, इस्मत चुगताई और हिंदी से ‘राजेंद्र यादव, निराला, पांडेय बेचन शर्मा उग्र; बांग्ला से रामकृष्ण परमहंस, बंकिमचंद्र चटर्जी, सुनील गंगोपाध्याय और ओड़िया से गोपालबंधु दास, किशोरीचरण दास; अंग्रेजी से महात्मा गांधी, अमृता शेरगिल, विक्रम सेठ; गुजराती से भूपेन खखर; मलयालम से वीटी नंदकुमार; राजस्थानी से विजयदान देथा; मराठी से ‘निर्मला देशपांडे और विजय तेंदुलकर; कन्नड़ से शिवप्रकाश और तमिल से अंबायी आदि की चुनी हुई रचनाओं का संकलन किया है।

इस प्रकार हिंदू, बौद्ध, मुसलिम और आधुनिक कहानियों से पता चलता है कि भारत में समलैंगिकता का अस्तित्व अलग-अलग रूपों में प्राचीन काल से चला आ रहा है। धर्मिक पुस्तकों, कानूनी संहिताओं, कहानियों, मध्यकालीन इतिहास, जीवनियों, उपन्यासों, पत्र-व्यवहार, संस्मरण, नाटक, कविताएं आदि को संपादकों ने अपने दायरे में लिया है।

चुनी गई रचनाओं को ऐतिहासिक क्रम में, यानी प्राचीन, मध्यकालीन संस्कृत परंपरा, मध्यकालीन फारसी उर्दू परंपरा और आधुनिक साहित्य वर्गों में विभाजित किया गया है। हर वर्ग के पहले विस्तृत समेकित भूमिका दी गई है, जिसमें रचनाओं के चयन के संबंध में विस्तार से अपनी बात कही गई है। अगर किसी रचना के संबंध में संपादक-द्वय में मतभेद रहा है तो वह भी बताया गया है। इसी प्रकार हर रचना के साथ उसकी स्वतंत्र भूमिका तो है ही। यह भी बताया गया है कि मूल रचना कहां से ली गई। आधुनिक भारतीय साहित्य वर्ग में सर्वाधिक रचनाएं हैं और संभवतया सर्वाधिक रोचक भी, शायद इस कारण कि इसमें उन्नीसवीं सदी से लेकर अब तक के साहित्य का चयन है और जैसा कि संपादक-द्वय का दावा है, यह उपनिवेशवाद का दाय है। यानी भारत में ब्रिटिश शासन में बनाया गया गुदा मैथुन विरोधी कानून विक्टोरियायी नैतिकता के ‘आयात’ का परिणाम है।

एक और बात, जिसकी ओर संपादकों ने ध्यान दिलाया है और यह सच भी है- समलिंगी प्रेम के संबंध में बौद्धिक जगत पूरी तरह मौन है। संपादकों को आशा थी कि इस पुस्तक के प्रकाशन के बाद भारतीय बौद्धिक जगत इस विषय में मुखर होगा। पर उनका सोचना गलत था। मेरी जानकारी में अब तक, यानी पिछले दस वर्षों में हिंदी में इस विषय पर कुछ नहीं लिखा गया है। इस पुस्तक के विषय में भी शायद कहीं चर्चा नहीं हुई।

पुस्तक में संग्रहीत रचनाएं देखने से अलग-अलग काल में धार्मिक और सामाजिक समुदायों में समलैंगिक प्रेम के संबंध में अंतर का

 पता भी चलता है। रूथ वनिता ने हिंदू, बौद्ध और जैन धार्मिक ग्रंथों का आलोड़न किया है। उनके सहयोगी सलीम किदवई ने एक हजार साल के मुसलिम हस्तलिखित ग्रंथों को खंगाल कर समलिंगी प्रेम संबंधी जो निष्कर्ष निकाले हैं उन्हें पढ़ कर पता चलता है कि समलिंगी प्रेम के संबंध में हम अब तक कितने अज्ञान थे। संपादक-द्वय का शुरू से ही प्रयास रहा कि उन्हें किसी प्रकार की सीमा में नहीं बंधना पड़ा। शायद इसी कारण कहा जा सकता है कि इस विषय का जितना विस्तृत विवरण इस पुस्तक से मिलता है वैसा अन्यत्र नहीं।

 

पुस्तक में ‘भारत’ को वृहत्तर अर्थ में लिया गया है और अपने शोध से संपादक-द्वय ने पुष्टि की है कि भारत में समलिंगी (उन्हें आप चाहे जो नाम दें) प्राचीन काल से रहे हैं और अभी तक रहते आ रहे हैं।

शिव सेना, विश्व हिंदू परिषद और कुछ मार्क्सवादियों के इन तर्कों को कि भारत के स्वर्ण युग में यानी प्राचीन काल में समलिंगी नहीं थे, काटते हुए संपादकों ने जगह-जगह उद्धरण देकर सप्रमाण बताया है कि हमारे पुराणों, शास्त्रों और धार्मिक ग्रंथों में इनका अस्तित्व रहा है। पुस्तक पढ़ते हुए लगता है कि हम एक पूरी जीवित सभ्यता और समकालीन संस्कृति से भी साक्षात्कार कर रहे हैं।

मगर एक बात जरूर है। संपादकों ने भारतीय सभ्यता, संस्कृति और उपनिवेश काल के समलिंगियों में भेद स्पष्ट करते हुए बताया है कि किसी भी समय या जगह पुरुषों और स्त्रियों के समलैंगिक व्यवहार को समाज में भले पसंद न किया जाता हो, पर इसके लिए उन्हें प्रताड़ित नहीं किया गया। इस दृष्टि से कहा जा सकता है कि पिछले कुछ वर्षों में ईरान में एक हजार से अधिक समलिंगियों को फांसी की सजा देने और अन्य देशों में भी उन्हें प्रताड़ित किए जाने के जो समाचार मिले हैं, उन्हें देखते हुए भारत में समलिंगी स्त्री और पुरुष का अस्तित्व और समाज में उनके साथ सहिष्णुता का व्यवहार करना अन्य देशों के लिए एक उदाहरण कहा जा सकता है।

जेरेमी सीब्रुक माइकेल फोकोल्ट और लिलियन फेडरमेन जैसे विदेशी लेखकों की मान्यता रही है कि भारत में समलैंगिकता उन्नीसवीं सदी के उत्तरार्ध में पनपी। इसके विपरीत इस पुस्तक के संपादकों का कहना है कि भारत में समलैंगिकता बहुत पहले से रही है। यह बात अवश्य है कि उन्हें ‘समलिंगी’ न कह कर अन्य नामों से जाना जाता था। पुस्तक में दिए गए महाभारत और भगवद्गीता के उदाहरण कट््टर धार्मिक हिंदुओं को परेशान करने के लिए काफी होंगे, पर उन्हें नकारा नहीं जा सकता और न उनका कोई अन्य अर्थ लिया जा सकता है।

ये रचनाएं इस मिथक को खंडित करती हैं कि भारत में समलिंगी प्रेम उन्नीसवीं सदी की देन है और यह भी कि भारत में या किसी भारतीय समाज में समलिंगी प्रेम का ‘आयात’ पश्चिम से हुआ। इसमें संग्रहीत प्राचीन रचनाओं से पता चलता है कि भारतीय संस्कृति और परंपरा में समलिंगी प्रेम को न तो हेय दृष्टि से देखा जाता था और न ही उभयलिंगी प्रेम से कमतर। आशा की जानी चाहिए कि यह पुस्तक इस विषय पर भारतीय बौद्धिकों के मौन को तोड़ने में सफल होगी और संबंधित कानून के विरोधियों को भी इस विषय में सहनशीलता बढ़ेगी  

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Great gay getaways

Great gay getaways | homosexuality | Scoop.it

It nearly always happens at Arrivals in Sahar, in that long line for pre-paid cabs. I’ll be desperately digging for enough Indian currency when someone says hi, or I look up to find a familiar face, and for a second I imagine I’m not at the airport, but in a queue to get into a gay party. No matter what flights or time of day, there always seem to be gays or lesbians getting off.

We’re a community that likes to travel. It’s relatively easy for us, since few of us have kids, which means higher disposable incomes and holidays that are not dictated by school vacations. But more than that, travel has always been a way for gay people to escape situations where they feel they must be closeted. Travel allows the gay couple who can’t live together because of parental pressures to experience waking up in the morning together. Travel to more tolerant places allows you to kiss your boyfriend or girlfriend in public.

Travel to countries less prudish than ours allows you to meet the sort of guys or girls you have only fantasised about. Travel lets you go to the gay pride march that doesn’t exist back home or, if it does, you’d never dare attend. Travel lets you go to the opera, or musicals, or shop, which perhaps one could do at home, but there never is enough time or variety or quality. Travel lets us step out of our lives, and that really matters when our lives are less than what we might want them to be.

None of this has escaped the attention of the travel industry which, along with underwear and sex toys, accounts for most of the ads in gay magazines abroad. Sydney sells its Mardi Gras parade as a big gay moneyspinner, while cities like Cape Town and Buenos Aires are trying to catch up as gay destinations. Many large Western cities do some kind of gay tourist marketing. Bangkok, of course, has its particular attractions, and I know gay businessmen who route Mumbai-Kolkata trips via Bangkok, pointing out how fares come cheaper, while other reasons are left unsaid.

Sometimes there are problems – the Greek island of Lesbos has cribbed about the women who flock there, though I bet that with the current state of the Greek economy, they’re now keeping their mouths shut. Caribbean islands like Jamaica are seeing a conflict between their tourism industries and the homophobia inspired by evangelical pastors. There have been calls for cruise liners to boycott the island after a gay-only cruise ship was turned away.

This could be a potent threat since gay men have always been important to cruise liners, both as customers and crew. Liverpool’s Maritime Museum has even put together an exhibition called Hello Sailor! on this side of shipboard life. Detached from land, ships were little worlds of their own where inhibitions were dropped during the voyage, and, of course, the proximity of many hunky sailors helped. Stewards on the big ocean liners were often gay too, and would happily help passengers dress up in cross-dressing costumes for the many parties that would take place.

Gays and lesbians are still important cruise customers, though the industry has struggled with how to cater to them while not alienating other, supposedly more conservative, family customers. Their rather strange practice is not to advertise “Gay Nights”, but call them gatherings for “Friends of Dorothy”, an archaic phrase used by gay men in the US in the 1950s (probably from Judy Garland’s Wizard of Oz, a gay fave film). Increasingly, gay customers are asking that the FOD be dropped for the more forthright LGBT, and as homosexuality becomes more normal – and more gay families start taking cruises – it looks like this will happen.

Indian gay tourists have never been organised enough for quirks to develop, but as numbers grow, it may happen. A guy I know recently put together a tour group for Thailand, reasoning that there must be many gay men who want to go, but not alone. He soon got customers since his rates were good and, along with arranging trips to both gay clubs and general tourist attractions, he’d also done the preparation he knew regular Indian customers would need –  making sure they get vegetarian Indian food, for example.

But he still wasn’t prepared when, on their first Monday, one of the guys came to him and asked him, “I need to find the Shankar temple today.” My friend was able to find a Hindu temple he could go to, but then the next day the guy came up and asked, “Today is Tuesday, where can I find a Hanuman temple?” And, he added, of course he would only eat food without onions and garlic that day. The tour organiser is still planning on more tours, but he’s realised that Indian gay tourists may have more requirements than he thought.

 

By Ally Gator on May 26 2011 6.30pm
Photos by Abhijeet Kini


  
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Walk the line

Walk the line | homosexuality | Scoop.it

You can put away the Santa hats and fake mistletoe, but it’s that time of the year when the rainbow scarves and the leather boots must be brought out for a much-needed airing. It is Mumbai’s Pride month, the run-up to the gala parade of protesting and partying, dubbed the Queer Azaadi March. Given last month’s volte-face by the judiciary on the criminality of gay sex, the festivities may now acquire the tenor of seething outrage but the focus is still on, in Vidya Balan’s easily (or lazily) applicable quote, “entertainment, entertainment and entertainment”. By the time this article goes into print, the season would’ve been flagged off with a performance of the Marathi play,Dushyantpriya, a genderbending take on Kalidasa’s Shakuntalam. And come Makar Sankranti, Gay Bombay’s anticipated kite-flying event at Juhu beach, would have had the butch women in attendance leaving the men with sand on their faces owing to their superior skills with the manja. There was also the selfstyled Queer Games, concurrently held by youth group Yaariyan, with an easy-as-pat lemon-and-spoon canter to start with, followed by a three-legged dash and finally a tug-of-war which invariably ended up with ten sweaty men in a big pile, so even the losing side won.

You may have missed those events, but there’s still more to look forward to. Yaariyan’s popular Q Fete (or the Gulabi Mela) is usually bursting at its seams with stalls peddling everything from chimichangas to apple pies and Bollywood-style clutches to exotic underwear. This time round, it has found a new home at Bhalla House, on Bandra’s Hill Road, where the Farmers’ Market would meet in the early days. The sidelights include a Zumba session and other fun workshops, with a tarot-card reader and an in-house DJ thrown in for good measure. This edition will also mark the return of Azaad Bazaar (or just AzBaz), who have been one of the frontrunners of the so-called pink rupee movement with their historic Bandra outlet, which had become a vibrant jamming spot for the city’s queers, but had to shut down in 2012. The AzBaz stall will feature their trademark Jailbird T-shirts, particularly apposite to these times. “Mumbai’s been calling us, and we are happy to be back”, said Simran and Sabina, owners of the brand. Also, by Yaariyan is the Gulabi Yatra, called the Pink Darshan. In its earlier avatar, it was a heritage walk to sites of queer significance in the city – mostly smoky bars and pick-up joints since, for the longest time, the city nightlife was the only space that embraced gay people.The Gaysi Family, (who also have a print magazine), brings back their delirious open mic event, Dirty Talk. Last year’s act was a stopover in British comedian Stephen Fry’s India sojourn, this year they’ve roped in the nutcases from All India Backchod. Asked about the repercussions of unleashing the AIB’s brand of irreverent humour on a populace whose psyche may be embittered much by the daily dose of bigotry that is now di rigueur on social media and elsewhere, the organisers felt that queers are resilient enough to take the barbs that come with the territory. “We don’t pre-censor the material that may be performed,” they said. Certainly, with their progressive viral content, which includes a Kalki Koechlin spot on India’s victim-blaming culture, and a fun Imran Khan mockinfomercial in which he tackles homophobia within his own fan base, AIB has demonstrated some bleeding-heart credentials to go with their signature whackiness. Giving them company will be singer Siddharth Basrur alongside the walk-on participants, some of whom can be counted upon to steal the show from right under the noses of the featured attraction.

One of Gay Bombay’s flagship events has traditionally been the Parents’ Meet, the closest we have to an organised Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in the city. This is an annual get-together of the kith and kin of queers, who discuss the difficulties still faced by Indian families in fully embracing their “different” children. But as they recount the many victories that such stories come arrayed with, the event transforms into a cathartic experience for all concerned. Over the last few iterations, the organisers have found that the men and women willing to bring their family members over, are now younger than ever, an indication of how soon LGBT children decide to come out to their families these days. Of course, acceptance seems to be a matriarchal preserve, as countless mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and sisters have sat in panel, impassioned in their support for their own, but nary a man. Maybe this year, that could change. There is much to look forward to. With such a chocka- block calendar, the city’s queer community has certainly cocked a snook at the nay-sayers who were looking to put them out of business.

queerazaadi.wordpress.com 

 

By Vikram Phukan on January 17 2014 10.34am

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Why Dedh Ishqiya is Aadhaa Lesbian Love

OUT OF SHADOWS

 

Why Dedh Ishqiya is Aadhaa Lesbian Love

 


Dedh Ishqiya is also aadhaa lesbian love. You first see a chaste kiss on Begum Para’s forehead by her young companion Muniya. Then, on the other side of the interval, you glimpse an amorous play of their shadows on a wall. As the two silhouettes collapse into each other, Naseeruddin Shah, playing the crook-poet Khalujaan, says with a resigned smile, “Lihaaf maang lein (Shall we ask for a quilt)?” In a movie of splendid allusions, it is not a throwaway line. Lihaaf — the famous short story by Ismat Chughtai — celebrated lesbian love that heaves, in secret, under a quilt. Here, Khalujaan asks for a lihaaf for Begum Para and Muniya, played by Madhuri Dixit and Huma Qureshi, in Abhishek Chaubey’s film Dedh Ishqiya. Bollywood’s hunky heroes have alluded to gay sex with all the innuendos at their command: often they were heterosexual characters playing mock-homosexuals in New York (Kal Ho Naa Ho) or Miami (Dostana). Gay characters have sporadically appeared in a handful of movies between Rafoo Chakkar and My Brother Nikhil. But when did a mainstream Bollywood heroine play gay in a mainstream Hindi movie — before and since Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das kissed in Fire? And here it is played by Dixit, who has been the object and subject of full-blown heterosexual love in films. She was the dhak-dhak girl, the ek, do, teen enchantress, the dream woman of Rahul and Prem. Now she conspires to flee with a woman, Muniya. There are a few more wrinkles on Dixit’s face, but these only show how far Hindi cinema has travelled. And, yet, some things have remained the same, 72 years after Lihaaf. Chughtai has written about the Lihaaf trial, a case that crumbled because the judge could not spot one obscene word in her story. She writes, “The proceedings had lost some of their verve, the witnesses who were called in to prove that Lihaaf was obscene were beginning to lose their nerve in the face of our lawyer’s cross-examination. No word capable of inviting condemnation could be found. After a great deal of searching, a gentleman said, “The sentence ‘she was collecting aashiqs (lovers)’ is obscene.” “Which word is obscene,” the lawyer asked. “‘Collecting’ or ‘aashiqs’?” “The word ‘aashiqs’,” the witness replied, somewhat hesitantly. “My Lord, the word ‘aashiqs’ is used by the greatest poets… It’s been given a sacred place by the devout.” “But it is…improper for girls to collect aashiqs,” the witness proclaimed. “Why?” “Because… because… this is improper for respectable girls.” “But not improper for girls who are not respectable?” “Uh… uh… no.” “My client has mentioned girls who are perhaps not respectable. And as you say, sir, non-respectable girls may collect aashiqs.” “Yes. It’s not obscene to mention them, but for an educated woman from a respectable family to write about these girls merits condemnation!” The witness thundered. “So go right ahead and condemn as much as you like, but does it merit legal action?” The case crumbled.” It is the same with Dedh Ishqiya. The men — Khalujaan and Babban — splatter the screen with “sex” and “ch*****an”. Even Muniya in her encounters with Babban is brazen in her kisses and conversations. But those who burnt down the cinemas that showed Fire will be hard-pressed to find a word of obscenity, forget an untoward caress, passing between the Begum and Muniya. You find two hands clasped, you find them driving into the sunset in a battered red Maruti. Like Chughtai, Chaubey seems to be saying: moral police, stay at ease. Dedh Ishqiya quietly overturns the clichés of romance: men foolishly spout poetry while women plot to get money. And in Muniya, who walks away with the Begum and who spends a night with Babban, you have your bisexual Bollywood heroine too. But lesbian love is shorn of body: the exact opposite of Blue is the Warmest Color. Is it too quiet, is this subtle depiction of lesbian love too reticent? If Section 377 ensured that homosexuals remained in the closet, Section 292 ensured that our writings, films and paintings could be targeted for obscenity. Both have to change. Women in love have to emerge out of the lihaaf and shadows. Homosexuality should be mainstreamed as much in life as in art. Otherwise, we would have an honourable judge asking, “Do you know any person who is homosexual ?” 




Charmy Harikrishnan 

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Social as well as legal trauma of being gay in India : Cover Story - India Today

Social as well as legal trauma of being gay in India : Cover Story - India Today | homosexuality | Scoop.it
Social as well as legal trauma of being gay in IndiaGayatri Jayaraman  December 20, 2013 | UPDATED 15:49 IST   

The police came to the Global Day of Rage protest against the Supreme Court upholding Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, at Maheshwari Udyan, Mumbai, with lathis and vans, expecting slogans, shouting, anger, even violence. What they got instead was rainbows, flags, flamboyant hairstyles, face paint, Venetian masks, posters that read 'Pyar Ke Dushman Hai Hai', a train dance through the garden, laughter, and gay-straight camaraderie. "What did they expect? It's a gay protest!" laughed one bystander as bisexual hairstylist Sapna Bhavnani kicked off a dance to the accompaniment of drums. "Love", "Peace", the protesters shouted. It is the gay way.

On July 2, 2009, when the Delhi High Court struck down Section 377, which criminalises consensual gay sex alongside governing "non-consensual penile non-vaginal sex and that involving minors", in response to a PIL by NGO Naz Foundation, gay rights activists called it historic. The petitioners had argued that Section 377 was in dissonance with the right to privacy, dignity, life and liberty, the right to sexual expression, sexual preferences, right of association/assembly and right to move freely. "If there is one tenet that can be said to be the underlying theme of the Constitution, it is that of 'inclusiveness'," the verdict read.

The amount of misogyny I see in Indian society is appalling. Men burning daughters, wives, raping sisters. India has greater problems than two gay people who love each other and are a family unit.To want marriage, love, companionship and, above all, children, is the most natural thing in the world.Those who object and bully, like Baba Ramdev and political parties, should seriously search their own souls.- Aditya Advani, landscape architect, Delhi Photo: M Zhazo

While the State chose not to appeal, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Apostolic Churches Alliance opposed the judgment. A bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadaya set aside the high court's verdict on December 11, calling gay sex "unnatural" and saying its prevalence occurred in a "minuscule minority". While official surveys of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community in India do not exist, trustees of gay rights organisations say even a fraction of official US figures (8 million adults, according to the American Civil Liberties Union) is substantial in Indian terms.

In the intervening years between the high court and Supreme Court verdicts, the closeted have had a taste of freedom. And there is no going back. The joie de vivre on view at the Mumbai protest is an indicator of the social acceptability the community has garnered and how much the law lags behind.

The protest venue, Maheshwari Udyan, was the secret meeting spot of gay lovers back in the 1980s, one of the LGBT 'safe zones': Paradise Cinema, Mahim; Azad Maidan, Kaanda Batata Market, Turbhe; Chowpatty beach; Santacruz and Dadar railway stations; Liberty Garden, Malad and the Gateway of India.

I know people in my office now know I am gay but they haven't confronted me about it. I know they talk behind my back. I am waiting to see what happens. I don't know if we have an HR policy on being gay. I may lose my job, but I don't care.You reach a point where you can't hide anymore. It's about being who you are.- Radhey Khatri, anker, MumbaiPhoto:Shivangi Kulkarni

Nitin Karani is 43 and has been in a relationship with Thomas Joseph, 30, since 2009. Karani, a banker, has been a trustee with Humsafar Trust, while Joseph is a business analyst. Karani is one of the pioneers of the gay comingout wave of the 1980s. He recalls those years as years of guilt and shame. In 1990, an issue of Debonair announced the launch of Bombay Dost by Ashok Row Kavi. The magazine for gay people, he said, changed his life. "Until then, you didn't know that other people were like you," he says. Karani came out to his parents at the age of 25.

For those a generation ahead, being gay has meant being sensible about it. Karani's partner, Joseph, a Catholic from Kerala, knew that he would not be accepted by his family, and set out to achieve emotional and financial independence. "When my priest suggested I watch straight porn to 'reorient' myself, I knew I had to make a choice. I eventually left my faith." Today the pronouncements of Pope Francis come as a breath of fresh air to the LGBT community.

I came from a small town and the repeal of Section 377 allowed me to go from being an outcast ten years ago and having to come to Mumbai on my own to find my place to 'Oh my god! How dare they criminalise my child!' on hearing this SC verdict. In small-town India, Section 377 is a tool that can be used against you, and reduces the possibility of acceptance. - Shruti, counsellor, Mumbai Photo:Shivangi Kulkarni

Acceptance has come in extraordinary ways for young Indians breaking out of stereotyped traditional structures. Debika, 39, a dog whisperer, was married for 10 years; the person who helped her escape it was her then-husband, now her best friend. Her partner Shruti, 33, a counsellor from a Tier-2 town in Maharashtra who was thrown out of her home for being lesbian, now runs her own practice in Mumbai. While Debika's parents have not yet come to terms with her, Shruti says the 2009 high court verdict helped her folks come to terms with her reality. Fellow Mumbaikars Jayesh Desai, 42, and Radhey Khatri, 43, met at a gay event in 2006. Desai was publicly outed just a few days ago on the front pages of a daily while attending a protest. For the resident of Ulhasnagar suburb, it's come as a relief. "I really don't care" he says. "I've had enough of hiding." In Kolkata, "youngsters are a lot more aware that the stigma is slowly going away," says Tirthankar Guha Thakurta, a gay rights activist and doctor.

{mosimage}Much of the urban emphasis is now towards everyday practicalities: Being able to open a joint bank account, get insurance, acquire a home loan, sign as next of kin in a medical emergency, pay rent without a landlord threatening to throw them out. Inheritance is a very contentious issue. "There have been many instances when people have been disinherited, denied property or even contact with the rest of their family. This is why we first ask them to gain some economic independence before coming out," says Poushali Basak of Sappho for Equality, a Kolkata-based support group.

While urban gay India found its momentum thanks to the push of NGOs, gay groups and the Internet, it is for a poorer India, where exploitation levels are high, that the repeal of Section 377 assumes heightened importance.

Twenty-five-year-old Sonal Sharma works as a research assistant at the Ambedkar University in Delhi. His mother works as a domestic help and his father is employed as a money collector in a local bazaar. Revealing his sexual orientation to his mother took a bit of explaining. "I didn't tell my mother I was gay, she wouldn't understand," he says. "So I told her I was attracted to men and that I wouldn't get married. I don't plan to tell my father." Sharma says that the law makes it difficult for gay men to report rape. "If I got raped, I can't tell the police because I will be considered a criminal," he says.

With Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice-President Rahul Gandhi openly rooting for gay rights after the Supreme Court judgment, the Government threw its might behind the call for taking a more liberal view, with Law Minister Kapil Sibal asserting the State would do all it can even if it means changing the law. BJP chief Rajnath Singh, however, voiced support for the judgment upholding Section 377. "We believe that homosexuality is an unnatural act. We cannot support it," he said. There are many in BJP who do not agree with Singh. "Such regressive views do not cut ice with the youth," says a senior party leader. BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has maintained an uneasy silence on the issue.

Criminalising LGBTs now, after so much has been achieved, will roll back the gains the movement registered, activists fear. "There's been a lot of awareness and support from the police which has reduced exploitation and blackmail but that is now being threatened by the recent Supreme Court judgment," says Bindumadhav Khire, 46, president of Samapathik Trust in Pune, which works to create greater awareness about the LGBT community. Khire, a former software engineer, has written seven books on homosexuality. "Most men my age live dual lives because they've been married by force," he says. One of Khire's greatest areas of concern is rural India where gays and lesbians are forced into heterosexual marriages. "If the law moves in the right direction, society will also accept people with different sexual orientations," he says.

{mosimage}Professors Anjali Monteiro and K.P. Jaysankar, dean and chairperson of the School of Media and Cultural Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences respectively, believe the excuses mounted for the defence of Section 377 are meaningless. Both paedophilia and child abuse happen across genders and largely involve heterosexual sex. Further, other laws and sections in the IPC exist to address molestation and rape, making Section 377 redundant. "Who decides what's unnatural anyway?" says Jaysankar.

A substantial onus for acceptance, says Aditya Advani, a 50-year-old landscape architect who lives with his partner Michael Tarr and their twins born of surrogacy in New Delhi's Defence Colony, lies with gay people themselves. "The justices behind the verdict didn't know any gay people. That's something that can only be changed by more of us coming out," says Advani. "At the end of the day, gay couples lead very ordinary, boring lives like anyone else. We fall in love, settle down, become parents, hold jobs, integrate with society and do normal, boring things. There is nothing extraordinary about us. All we want to do is lead these boring, ordinary lives," he says.

with Aditi Pai, Saranya Chakrapani, Malini Banerjee, Asmita Bakshi, and Bhavna Vij-Aurora



Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/homosexuality-supreme-court-verdict-on-section-377-gay-rights/1/332034.html
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The secret and dangerous life of my gay friend

The secret and dangerous life of my gay friend | homosexuality | Scoop.it
The secret and dangerous life of my gay friend

Anand Soondas 
10 January 2014, 12:02 

A few hours after the Supreme Court of India said it was criminal for consenting gay adults to have sex, sometimes even for heterosexuals to indulge in certain, non-missionary kinds of bedroom activity, Avinash R sent me a text message that was two words-long but articulated all of his incredulity and exasperation. “True? Seriously!”


Avinash had left his Borivali East flat in Mumbai at 9 am that day, December 11, to reach Lower Parel for a meeting with a group of local businessmen who seemed interested in a project his NGO had in mind for homeless kids living along the Western Line railway tracks. The confabulations, with a break in between for lunch, had stretched till well past evening. So when the story on Article 377 broke, across TV channels, social media and news agencies, Avinash, his phone on silent mode, had been busy convincing the benefactors how their help would go a long way in providing food, basic education and shelter for the orphans, many of them already ravaged by drugs and venereal diseases.

Avinash, about 38 now, was nine when his father, who had taken voluntary retirement from the Army to teach in one of the many English schools in Darjeeling, saw him patiently helping his cousin Priscilla get ready for Sunday Mass. That night, as Avi's father prepared to go to bed, he told his wife, "That boy of yours isn't turning out right. I don't think he'll ever join the armed forces like I did. Or take inspiration from the bravery his uncles and grandfather showed in the battles their Gurkha regiments fought. He will see the end of that tradition."

Avis's mother had then mumbled feebly and said it was a little kid's passing fancy. "He is not like the other boys, I know, but he will be fine. I will ask Priscilla's brother to take him for the football games they play at the school ground." The boys, forever on the lookout for new recruits, promptly allowed him into their club. At 4 pm, after Avi had been given the evening tea with four glucose biscuits, the other kids would holler, “Avi, aaija. Come quick.” He would pick up his canvas shoes and trudge along, always volunteering to be the goalkeeper. It allowed him to escape the rough tackles and spend time by himself beneath the goalpost.

That went on for a couple of years. In fact, Avi got so good at it that he became the team’s official goalkeeper. They would play football on weekends with boys from the other neighbourhoods, collecting Rs 2 from each player in the team for a bet of Rs 22. The winners took home Rs 44, splurging on dokaan ko chiya (special tea sold in sweetmeat shops), singara and piro aloo (spicy potatoes cooked with arbol chili powder).

The next few years passed by in a blur. His younger sister Shristi was born, studies at school turned hectic and it became non-negotiable for the boys to miss the football sessions. The bets were getting larger by the year and they had begun to play for Rs 110 per team. That meant the after-win parties were now a sumptuous affair, consisting of steaming plates of momo, thukpa, shyafale and fried meat. Some of the bigger kids in the team would slyly order tongba, the fermented millet-based alcoholic drink that comes in a bamboo container and has to be sipped hot or warm using a wooden straw. The headiness that followed would render them useless for the rest of the evening.

After classes finished in the afternoon, Avi would rush home and wait for his maths tutor at 3 pm for private lessons that would go on till 4. That one hour was the worst of the day. He hated Mr Pradhan, whose dirty-brown moustache dipped in the tea cup whenever he drank from it. Sometimes when Avi was unable to get to the root of a tricky equation, Mr Pradhan would place a pencil between Avi’s index and middle finger and press the two hard against each other, making him wince in pain.

The free time that he got, Avi spent with Shristi, watching her eat, burp, throw up, eat again. When she began to make sounds that resembled words, Avi thought the first name that she would call out would be his. But like everyone else, she said Ama.       

Avinash doesn’t remember clearly now, but he thinks it was the day after their ICSE results came out that changed his life forever. He was 15, fair even by pahari standards, his straight black hair crowding his forehead in a messy fringe. No one who visited their house ever failed to compliment him on his delicate good looks, especially his complexion. Some of them would wink and tell his father, “Avi would have been such a pretty daughter, daju.” His father ignored these remarks, an unspoken fear growing in his heart.

That year, everyone barring Pasang in Avi's group had passed the 10th boards. But because Pasang’s parents were away in Gangtok to attend a relative’s wedding, it was decided that the celebrations would be held at his place. Pasang didn’t mind much either. “Who cares about my results,” he said. Waving his right hand up and down in a quick chopping gesture, he exclaimed with dramatic flourish, “I’ll be a butcher like my father.” 

There were 14 of them that night and they had pooled in money to buy wafers, two small cakes, packets of bhuja and a few bars of Dairy Milk. They had also packed enough plates of chowmein for dinner. Talking about that incident, Avinash would later tell me, “No one knows who, but somebody had sneaked in two bottles of Sikkim XXX rum. I think that did it."

As the rest of the raucous band went off to bed, tired from all that head-banging and air-guitaring to Thin Lizzy and Lynyrd Skynyrd, the alcohol acting as a catalyst, Avi caught himself looking more than once at Dinesh, the captain of the school football team. Avi had known Dinesh for a while now. Many years ago when Avi had gone with Priscilla’s brother Norbert for the first ever football game of his life at the small ground next to the gumba, Dinesh was there trying to bounce the ball off the goal post’s side bar. He had soon noticed how all the kids went to Dinesh with their problems, with their squabbles, asking him to solve, mediate, intervene, lead. Avi had liked Dinesh instantly. Years later, when they were 13 and had gone to Mirik for an excursion from school, Dinesh had held Avi’s hand as they trekked up from the Samendu lake to eat at Tshering Bhutia’s restaurant.

The memories had come crashing back into Avi’s head. Overwhelmed, he emptied the remaining bit of his share of Sikkim XXX into Paljor’s glass and slid into Dinesh’s sleeping bag.

About a week after that ICSE party, four boys from the neighbourhood, all senior by a few years to Avi, invited him for a get-together at Lhendup’s bungalow. Avi had never interacted much with Lhendup, who had dropped out of school in his 9th and instead helped his father in their flourishing auto repair business. But he knew Lhendup to be Dinesh’s friend. He agreed when one of the four boys smiled and said, “Dinesh has said he will come too.”

When Avi reached Lhendup’s house at about 7 pm, there were six boys there. But there was no trace of Dinesh even at 9. By this time the group had finished the first bottle of Honey Bee brandy and polished off nearly half of the second. Binay, who Avi had been introduced to that evening, was rolling a joint of hash. “So, is Dinesh coming?” Avi asked Lhendup, getting a little impatient. “If he’s not, I think I will leave.”

Avi still remembers Binay’s voice as he poked his head from an inside room and said, “No, you won’t. We called you here for a reason.” It was as if everyone was waiting for the cue. Suddenly someone ran to the main door and latched it shut. The next thing Avi remembers is two of the boys pinning him to the ground and Binay slowly staggering towards him. “You sissy,” Binay spat. “Dinesh told us everything.”

For a month after that incident, Avi didn’t step out of his house, often barely leaving his room. Every night he would wait for Shristi, his father and mother to go off to bed. After he was sure they were asleep, he would switch off the lights in his room and quietly cry for hours.     

That didn’t stop the boys, some of them total strangers, from coming right up to his house and asking his mother, “Aunty, where is Avi these days? We thought maybe he could come for a picnic with us?” Some would say it was a birthday or a cousin’s wedding. She wondered why he didn’t go for the football anymore, why he refused to meet even Norbert and Pasang, his best friends, and why he simply stopped talking about Dinesh, his favourite person in the world.  

One day at breakfast, Avi announced to his parents that he had decided to go to Kolkata for his senior secondary, and that he would stay with uncle Kisan and his wife Ketaki at their New Alipore house. Avi hadn’t done too badly in his ICSE, managing a decent 82%. It was possible to get a seat in a good school in Kolkata. Moreover, Kisan uncle, who was in the police, could use some departmental influence to help him out. 

Avinash didn’t like Kolkata very much and soon moved to Delhi for his BA, graduating from one of the best colleges in the city with honours in English. Unwilling to study any further, Avi first tried his hand at PR, hated it, and quickly shifted to the publishing industry. A year into that, he changed course to work with an NGO in the field of animal rights. He got so fanatical about it that for a year in 2001, he lived with four dogs and an equal number of cats in his Patparganj flat. It went on until his landlord threw out both Avi and the strays.          

It was the next year, October of 2002, when stopping by JNU to meet a friend of mine who was doing his Ph.D in Social Medicine that I had my first meeting with Avi. They were nursing their third large peg of Old Monk when I landed at my friend’s room in Jhelum hostel with another bottle of rum. After the introductions were made and we settled down to talk about the Gujarat riots, Avi turned to me and asked, “But you guys never write about the persecution of gays in this country. About their tragedy. We are a minority, too. I guess it is convenient for the media not to talk about us.” 

He continued to speak in a voice that was soft but seemed to come from somewhere deep in his gut. “Will you write if I tell you that just last week when a bunch of men from the apartment I live in threatened to beat me up for being a homosexual, the officer in the thana instead of noting my complaint demanded oral sex from me? Blackmail is routine. It is rampant. Like the sword over the king’s head, it never goes away. We have to pay, one way or the other, to hide from the world our truth. From our colleagues, acquaintances, relatives, parents, landlords, policemen, teachers, courts and everyone else the fact that we are gay. It comes with a cost.”

With my friend peering into his glass as if to find something sensible to say, and me, a guilt-wracked representative of the bullying half, shielding myself with silence, the only weapon at my disposal, Avi went on, “Do you know, it’s a myth that straight men have sex only with women? They rape gays all the time. And for some reason that doesn't make them homosexuals. It merely makes them macho. They take advantage of the fact that our sexual orientation immediately makes us vulnerable. We must be the only minority that feels safe absolutely nowhere in this country, unlike some who can still take refuge in their ghettos.”

Avi was leaving for Mumbai the next day. There was an interview with an NGO lined up and he was sure he would crack it. His monologue finally wore him out and at about 1 am, much to the relief of the two of us, he suddenly changed the subject and said, “It’s a group that works with children. I love kids. I think they will see that. If I get the job and I like the city, I will pack up from here for good.” 

He has been in Mumbai ever since and we have remained in touch, mostly through texts and emails.

Three years after he shifted to Mumbai, taking up a two-bedroom flat in Borivali, he texted me one Sunday of September 2005. “Dude? Free? Can I call?” I was in Kolkata and had just got my parents to join me for a month at my rented Jodhpur Park house. Remembering his verbal assault in that fungal JNU room, made worse by the smell of stale mess food, I dithered for a moment. Then, thinking Avi might have something important to tell, I acquiesced.   

The weekend before that, as Avi and Mithilesh, the guy he had started sharing the apartment with, were watching a video at home and wondering whether to call for beer or whisky, there was a knock on the door. Two men, both in their mid-20s, were standing outside. They had come to collect the Rs 250 that the local cable company charged from its customers. Mithilesh went to them with the money and to make polite conversation said casually that he hadn’t seen them before. “Where is Arvind bhai?” he asked. “You guys new here?” The one who took the money and jotted down something in a fraying notebook said this was their first month and that they had taken up Arvind’s job. 

The other chap, quiet till now, began to smile. It was obvious he wanted to talk. Thinking it would be rude to ignore him, Mithilesh extended his hand and said hello. Introducing himself as Chandan, the man began without any preamble, “We’ve heard storied about you two. Some day we’ll have a few drinks and chat. I will get some of those videos and we can have fun.” Mithilesh pretended he didn’t understand anything of what Chandan was saying and turned around to shut the door. He was shivering with rage and humiliation. 

“We moved out of that apartment after a couple of weeks,” Avi said on the phone. “Puritan Mumbai is as bad as the rest of Puritan India. And everywhere we are the outcastes. Treated like whores and freaks. Or both. You asked me if I will ever come out. I will, perhaps. I can. I am ready for it. For the risks that will accompany the decision. But is our society ready for me? Will I get a flat if I tell them I don’t have a wife because I am gay? Will I be able to say Mithilesh is not really a cousin? Can I ask Shristi to stop lying about me to her boyfriend? What will Baba and Ama say when I tell them that they should stop expecting me to be ‘cured’ and that no magic potion, whichever dhami and jhaankri they go to, will make me have kids of my own? That this is how I am and it doesn’t make me a lesser son or a brother?”  

Avi was silent for a while. “That night in JNU, you must have thought I was ranting, and must have wished you hadn’t met me in your friend’s room. But I wanted to convince you about my story. About what we go through. Just in case you decide to put together some of the things I have told you and keep telling you.”A day after the Supreme Court held that Section 377 of the IPC does not suffer from the vice of unconstitutionality, unwittingly exposing homosexuals to blackmail or the risk of spending a lifetime in jail for the offence – the verdict also confused and terrorized them as some had actually begun to live together after the Delhi high court decriminalized same-sex relationships four years ago – Avi sent me another short text. “Will you write my story now?”

(Some names have been changed for this article to protect their identity. And despite Avinash’s insistence, I have decided not to use his last name.)

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2006/20061217 :The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Ludhiana Stories : A poet and gay activist

A poet and gay activist 
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 16
Iftikhar Nasim, popularly known as Ifti Nasim, is a Pakistan-born US poet and writer. His poetry is recommended in US colleges. He is a gay rights activist as well.

Ifti has no qualms in admitting that he is a gay. “I was born in an orthodox and conservative society in Pakistan and I had to leave that country for my inclinations which some people, which that society thought were unnatural,” he says.

Being gay is a natural tendency and relevant in the subcontinent. “But most people cannot admit it for obvious reasons,” he says, adding that as the human mind keeps growing, some traditions are bound to change.

Defending gay marriages in America, he says “what is wrong in it?...if people of different sexes can stay together by virtue of marriage why cannot two people belonging to the same sex stay like that.” Even in America, conservative Christians and Jews are opposing gay marriages.

Owing to his “frank admission” about himself, he had to face the wrath of the radicals in Pakistan and leave the country. He is settled in Chicago. “But now I am also accepted in Pakistan where I come to deliver lectures on various issues,” he says.

He is currently in Ludhiana to participate in the Jashan-e-Sahir, an annual mushaira organised by Adeeb International in memory of Urdu poet Sahir Ludhianvi.

Mr Kewal Dheer, organiser of the mushaira, says that Ifti is so particular about it that he would frequently ask about the dates so that he could organise his visit accordingly.

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समलैंगिकता अप्राकृतिक और संस्कृति के खिलाफ!

समलैंगिकता अप्राकृतिक और संस्कृति के खिलाफ! | homosexuality | Scoop.it
समलैंगिकता अप्राकृतिक और संस्कृति के खिलाफ!आईबीएन-7 | Aug 10, 2009 at 08:42pm | Updated Aug 10, 2009 at 10:51pmMore on:#Homosexual# survey# ibn7

नई दिल्ली। समलैंगिकता को लेकर देश की अदालतों का नजरिया कुछ भी हो लेकिन आम हिंदुस्तानी के लिए वो आज भी अप्राकृतिक है, बीमारी है और संस्कृति के खिलाफ है। बीते सालों में इतना जरूर हुआ कि समलैंगिकता टैबू नहीं रही। लोग अब समलैंगिकों के साथ असहज नहीं महसूस करते, उनसे बात करते हैं। बगैर सेक्शुअल पार्टनर बने उनसे दोस्ती रख सकते हैं लेकिन इसके बाद भी अपने भाई, बेटे या बहन को समलैंगिक नहीं देखना चाहते। देश के 16 बड़े शहरों की समलैंगिकों के बारे में यही चौंकाने वाली राय है।

IBN7 और हिंदुस्तान के सर्वे में पहला सवाल था कि क्या समलैंगिक रिश्ते गैरकानूनी होने चाहिए? 17 फीसदी लोगों ने कहा हां, तो 73 फीसदी लोगों का कहना था नहीं जबकि 10 फीसदी की कोई राय नहीं थी।

दूसरा सवाल था क्या पुरुष का पुरुष की तरफ और महिला का महिला की तरफ आकर्षण अप्राकृतिक है? 77 फीसदी लोगों ने कहा हां और 23 फीसदी का जवाब था ना।

तीसरा सवाल क्य़ा समलैंगिकता बीमारी है? 62 फीसदी ने कहा हां तो 38 फीसदी का जवाब था ना।

चौथा सवाल अगर ये बीमारी है तो क्या ठीक हो सकती है? 62 फीसदी ने कहा हां तो 18 फीसदी ने कहा नहीं। 20 फीसदी के पास कोई जवाब ही नहीं था।

सवाल ये कि क्या समलैंगिकता हमारी संस्कृति के खिलाफ है। 83 फीसदी ने कहा हां तो 11 फीसदी ने कहा नहीं और 6 फीसदी असमंजस में ही रहे।

क्या समलैंगिकों को शादी की इजाजत मिलनी चाहिए? 17 फीसदी ने कहा हां मगर 83 फीसदी की राय में ये शादी नहीं हो सकती।

लेकिन समलैंगिक जोड़े को घर किराए पर देने के सवाल पर ज्यादातर राजी हैं। 90 फीसदी ने कहा हां तो बस 10 फीसदी ही समलैंगिकों को घर देने को तैयार नहीं।

समलैंगिकता पर खुली बहस को भी ज्यादातर लोग राजी हैं। 76 फीसदी लोग खुलकर बात करने को तैयार हैं बस 24 फीसदी को झिझक महसूस होती है।

मगर अपने घर में समलैंगिक ज्यादातर लोगों को मंजूर नहीं। 80 फीसदी लोगों का जवाब है हां तो 20 फीसदी का जवाब है ना

सवाल है कि अगर घर में कोई समलैंगिक निकल ही आया तो करेंगे क्या ? 71 फीसदी ने कहा समझाएंगे,18 फीसदी ने कहा घर से निकाल देंगे और 11 फीसदी ने कहा उसकी भावनाएं समझेंगे।

सिनेमा के बगैर तो भारतीय समाज अधूरा है तो फिल्मों में समलैंगिकता का हाल क्या है? 54 फीसदी कहते हैं मजाक उड़ाया जाता है तो 46 फीसदी कहते हैं गंभीरता से दिखाया जाता है।

आखिरी सवाल क्या आपका कोई समलैंगिक दोस्त है? इसका जवाब चौंकाने वाला है। 94 फीसदी लोगों की किसी न किसी समलैंगिक से दोस्ती है मगर 6 फीसदी लोगों की किसी समलैंगिक से दोस्ती नहीं रही।

लाइफस्टाइल की अन्य खबरों के लिए यहां क्लिक करें।

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पढ़ें: कब-कब समलैंगिकता पर देश में उठे आवाज

पढ़ें: कब-कब समलैंगिकता पर देश में उठे आवाज | homosexuality | Scoop.it
आप यहाँ हैं » होम » देशपढ़ें: कब-कब समलैंगिकता पर देश में उठे आवाजआईबीएन-7 | Dec 11, 2013 at 09:33pm | Updated Dec 11, 2013 at 09:42pmMore on:#Homosexual Relationships# Supreme Court# Protest# Verdict

नई दिल्ली। दिल्ली और मुंबई समेत कई शहरों में समलैंगिक अधिकारों के समर्थक सुप्रीम कोर्ट के फैसले के विरोध में सड़कों पर उतर आए। वहीं सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने कानून बनाने का हक विधायिका के पास होने की दलील दे कर सिर्फ धारा-377 के कानूनी पहलू पर ही फैसला दिया है।

ब्रिटिश औपनिवेशिक शासन ने 1860 में धारा 377 लागू की थी। ये ईसाई-यहूदी धार्मिक नैतिकता पर आधारित थी। धारा 377 के मुताबिक-किसी भी मर्द, औरत या पशु से जो भी कुदरत के कानून के खिलाफ जिस्मानी रिश्ता बनाएगा, उसे उम्रकैद या 10 साल की कैद और जुर्माने की सजा दी जा सकती है।

सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने इस धारा की संवैधानिकता को सही ठहराया है, लेकिन समलैंगिकता के सही या गलत होने का मसला संसद के हवाले कर दिया। लिहाजा मानवाधिकार संगठन एमनेस्टी इंटरनेशनल ने मामले में सरकारी दखल के लिए दबाव बनाने का रास्ता सुझाया है। बढ़ते दबाव के बीच अब समलैंगिकता पर कानून बनाने की जिम्मेदारी संसद पर आ गई है। यानी मामला वहीं पहुंच गया, जहां से चला था।

2001 में समलैंगिकों के संगठन नाज फाउंडेशन ने दिल्ली हाईकोर्ट में धारा 377 के खिलाफ याचिका दायर की। सुनवाई के दौरान 18 सितंबर 2008 में गृह और स्वास्थ्य मंत्रालय की विरोधी रुख के मद्देनजर केंद्र ने और वक्त मांगा। 26 सितंबर को हाईकोर्ट ने केंद्र को दो अलग-अलग बात कहने पर लताड़ लगाई। तब केंद्र ने समलैंगिक संबंध को अनैतिक, विकृत मानसिकता का कृत्य करार दिया था। 18 अक्टूबर को कोर्ट ने धार्मिक आधार पर समलैंगिकता को गलत कहने पर केंद्र की खिंचाई की। कोर्ट ने केंद्र को वैज्ञानिक सबूतों के साथ आने को कहा। इसके बाद सरकार पुराने रुख से पलट गई। आखिरकार 2 जुलाई 2009 में हाईकोर्ट ने धारा-377 को गैरअपराधिक करार दे कर दो व्यस्कों के बीच समलैंगिक रिश्तों को कानूनी मान्यता दे दी।

सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने इसी फैसले को पलटा है, जिसके खिलाफ गे-राइट एक्टिविस्ट अपील की तैयारी कर रहे हैं। वहीं वरिष्ठ वकील हरीश साल्वे ने सुनवाई के लिए अपनाई गई प्रक्रिया पर ही सवाल खड़े कर दिए हैं। उन्होंने ट्वीट किया ‘इस तरह के मामले को कभी भी 2 जजों के द्वारा नहीं सुना जाना चाहिए था। संविधान के अनुच्छेद 145 का निर्देश है कि अहम संवैधानिक मसलों की सुनवाई 5 जजों की बेंच को करना चाहिए। सुप्रीम कोर्ट इसलिए अंतिम फैसला नहीं करता है क्योंकि वो सही होता है, बल्कि वो सही इसलिए होता है क्योंकि वो अंतिम सुनवाई करता है। लेकिन संवैधानिक मसलों पर फैसलों में चूक न हो इसलिए ऐसे मामलों को कम से कम 5 जजों की बेंच में सुने जाने का प्रावधान है। धारा 377 को चुनौती देने के लिए ताजा याचिका दायर करने के लिए ये अच्छी दलील हो सकती है। दूसरी तरफ फैसले के बाद संसद में भी मसले पर बहस की जमीन तैयार हो चुकी है।

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Homosexual: Latest Hindi News Homosexual, Read Breaking News - IBNKhabar.com

Homosexual: Latest Hindi News Homosexual, Read Breaking News - IBNKhabar.com | homosexuality | Scoop.it
Homosexual - Get latest news in Hindi on Homosexual. Read breaking news in Hindi on Homosexual updated and published on IBNKhabar.com including stories, photos, videos etc
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Tom Daley Comes Out as Bisexual, Igniting L.G.B.T. Debate

Tom Daley Comes Out as Bisexual, Igniting L.G.B.T. Debate | homosexuality | Scoop.it
FASHION & STYLEBisexual: A Label With LayersTom Daley Comes Out as Bisexual, Igniting L.G.B.T. Debate

By MICHAEL SCHULMANJAN. 3, 2014

Launch media viewerLeft: Tom Daley, far left, and the screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who has been widely reported to be Mr. Daley’s boyfriend, in Houston last month. Right: The actress Cynthia Nixon, at left, had children with a man before having a son, Max, with Christine Marinoni. justjared.com/Cosmo, via FameFlynet; Brian Ach/ID-PR, via Associated PressEMAILFACEBOOKTWITTERSAVEMORE

“Of course I still fancy girls.”

Those six little words, tossed off like a request to please hold the mustard, were among the most deconstructed in Tom Daley’s YouTube videolast month, in which the 19-year-old British Olympic diver announced that he was dating a man.

Leaning against Union Jack pillows, he continued, “But, I mean, right now I’m dating a guy, and I couldn’t be happier.” Mr. Daley’s message was sweet and simple, and gay rights advocates seemed thrilled to welcome an out-and-proud athlete into their ranks. (The cattier comments came later, when the “guy” was reported by numerous tabloids and blogs to be the screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who is two decades his senior.)

But the cheers were premature, or at least qualified. Despite the trending Twitter hashtag #TomGayley, Mr. Daley never used the word “gay,” and there was the matter of his still fancying girls. While many commenters embraced the ambiguity (“I don’t care if Tom Daley’s gay or bi or whatever ... He’s still fit,” one tweeted), others raised eyebrows.

Launch media viewerThe British Olympic diver Tom Daley announced in a YouTube video last month that he was dating a man but that he still liked women. Feng Li/Getty Images

Was it a disclaimer? A cop-out? A ploy to hold on to fans? Was he being greedy, as some joked? Or was he, as the video’s blushing tone suggested, simply caught up in the heady disorientation of first love, a place too intoxicating for labels?

Whatever the answer, Mr. Daley’s disclosure reignited a fraught conversation within the L.G.B.T. community, having to do with its third letter. Bisexuality, like chronic fatigue syndrome, is often assumed to be imaginary by those on the outside. The stereotypes abound: bisexuals are promiscuous, lying or in denial. They are gay men who can’t yet admit that they are gay, or “lesbians until graduation,” sowing wild oats before they find husbands.

“The reactions that you’re seeing are classic in terms of people not believing that bisexuality really exists, feeling that it’s a transitional stage or a form of being in the closet,” said Lisa Diamond, a professor at the University of Utah who studies sexual orientation.

Population-based studies, Dr. Diamond said, indicate that bisexuality is in fact more common than exclusively same-sex attraction, and that female libido is particularly open-ended. That may explain why female bisexuality is more conspicuous in popular culture, from Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” to “The Kids Are All Right” and the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black.” (That straight men may find it titillating doesn’t hurt.)

In a recent Modern Love essay in The New York Times revealing her relationship with another woman, the actress Maria Bello wrote, “My feelings about attachment and partnership have always been that they are fluid and evolving.” Before marrying Bill de Blasio, Chirlane McCray identified as a lesbian, which has become part of the progressive credentials of New York’s first family.

Male bisexuality, by contrast, is more vexed, and much of the skepticism comes from gay men. In the aftermath of Mr. Daley’s announcement, Ann Friedman wrote a post for New York Magazine’s The Cut blog predicting that male bisexuality would become more visible as gender mores evolved. “Traditional definitions of masculinity — which tend to go hand in hand with homophobia — are going through a real shake-up,” Ms. Friedman wrote. “More hetero men are tentatively admitting that they’re turned on by certain sex acts associated with gay men.”

The gay conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan swiftly countered on his own blog, The Dish, saying, “I suspect, pace Friedman’s dreams, that there will always be far fewer men who transcend traditional sexual categories — because male sexuality is much cruder, simpler and more binary than female.” He called Mr. Daley’s claim about liking girls “a classic bridging mechanism to ease the transition to his real sexual identity. I know because I did it, too.”

Mr. Sullivan’s brushoff echoed the knowing disdain that many gay men show toward their bisexual counterparts, particularly younger ones. In a sense, they’re right: Plenty of gay men, especially in less tolerant decades, have used bisexuality as a “rest stop on the highway to homo,” to borrow a punch line from “Will & Grace.”

Lesbians are not immune to this kind of wariness. Even after Ms. McCray married Mr. de Blasio, some of her “lesbian-separatist friends,” as The New Yorker put it, refused to accept her new life in Park Slope.

Launch media viewerThe writer Dan Savage has been accused of “biphobia.” Stuart Isett for The New York Times

Such thinking has irked bisexual advocates, who see bias within gay circles as evidence of “biphobia.” The claim has been lodged repeatedly at the sex columnist Dan Savage. In 2011, the blogger Chris O’Guinn accused Mr. Savage of saying “blatantly hurtful, cruel and insulting things about bisexuals,” including his remark in the documentary “Bi the Way” that “I meet somebody who’s 19 years old who tells me he’s bisexual, and I’m like: ‘Yeah, right, I doubt it. Come back when you’re 29 and we’ll see.’ ”

Besieged by such complaints, Mr. Savage made a video for The Dish last summer clarifying his views. “Acknowledging that this is a thing that happens, that people briefly identify as bi before they come out as gay often — not all bi people, but gay people do this — should not be considered biphobic,” he said, citing the British pop star Mika as a gay celebrity who originally said he was bisexual.

Part of what tripped up Mr. Savage, he explained, was a 2005 study in which researchers at Northwestern University cast doubt on whether male bisexuality truly exists, after showing subjects erotic imagery while monitoring their genital responses. Six years later, a follow-up study at Northwestern concluded the opposite: male bisexuality is real.

Why the change? Whereas the first study advertised for subjects in gay-oriented publications and included men who identified as gay, straight or bisexual, the second recruited from places catering specifically to bisexuals and selected only those who had seriously dated both men and women.

Advocates, a touch exasperated, applauded the new results, though some pointed out that physical stimulation is only one ingredient of sexual orientation, which also stems from emotional intimacy. Indeed, Mr. Daley and Ms. Bello, neither of whom used the word “bisexual,” both spoke of the overpowering ardor of a single relationship, rather than a shift in identity. (Ms. Bello was content to call herself a “whatever.”)

Only a handful of celebrities have embraced the term, and usually with footnotes. Alan Cumming, who is married to the illustrator Grant Shaffer, recently told Instinct magazine: “I still define myself as a bisexual even though I have chosen to be with Grant. I’m sexually attracted to the female form even though I am with a man, and I just feel that bisexuals have a bad rap.” Cynthia Nixon, who married a woman after having children with a man, told The Daily Beast in 2012: “I don’t pull out the ‘bisexual’ word because nobody likes the bisexuals. Everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals.”

But avoiding labels has its own baggage among gay advocates, who have relied on visibility as a weapon against intolerance. Ellyn Ruthstrom, president of the Bisexual Resource Center in Boston, said of Ms. Nixon, “She’s very accepted within the L.G.B.T. community, but she knows that it’s a big negative to walk around saying you’re bisexual.” She added: “Many people think they can’t use the B word safely. And it’s hard in our community, because we want positive examples of bi people.”

New York’s new first lady won’t be one of those examples. When an interviewer from Essence brought up the B word, Ms. McCray replied: “I am more than just a label. Why are people so driven to labeling where we fall on the sexual spectrum? Labels put people in boxes, and those boxes are shaped like coffins.”

In Mr. Daley’s case, the difference may be generational. People who have grown up in a more assimilated world may not see the value in labels like “gay” or “bisexual,” when the communities they describe are no longer as marginalized.

“Among the younger generation, I’ve seen much more openness about bisexuality in both men and women, and often a rejection of all labels,” Dr. Diamond said. “They’re more open to the idea that, ‘Hey, sexuality is complicated, and as long as I know who I want to sleep with it doesn’t matter what I call myself.’ ”

 

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Homophobia was inculcated into Indians as part of Macaulay’s plan to ‘educate’ the natives - Hindustan Times

Homophobia was inculcated into Indians as part of Macaulay’s plan to ‘educate’ the natives - Hindustan Times | homosexuality | Scoop.it

Ruth Vanita , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 09, 2014 - See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/comment/analysis/homophobia-was-a-part-of-macaulay-s-plan-to-educate-indians/article1-1171191.aspx#sthash.DvjaSBEe.dpuf

The Supreme Court judgment reinstating Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the anti-sodomy law, nowhere states that same-sex relations are contrary to Indian traditions or culture, or will damage the family or society. In a democracy, fundamental rights conferred by the Constitution can be taken away from citizens only if an overriding social or national interest requires it. 

The judges were perhaps not convinced by the appellants’ arguments that same-sex relations between consenting adults in private would damage society, morality and the nation. Therefore, the judgment simply states that Section 377 is not unconstitutional, but does not adduce any evidence.

 

However, those who agree with the judgment continue to assert that it proves the immorality and unnaturalness of same-sex relations whereas in fact it does not. The judges pointed out that Section 377 does not outlaw LGBT identities; it only outlaws certain acts (oral and anal sex) which occur between men and women too. Why, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, do so many people insist that same-sex relations are unnatural and immoral?

The answer has to do with Macaulay. In 1835, Macaulay famously stated that the British education system in India should create ‘a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect’. 

Macaulay’s dream began to take shape only after the 1857 rebellion was crushed, and north India’s culture, along with Indian self-confidence, lay shattered. Macaulay headed the commission that instituted the penal code in 1860, and added Section 377 to it in 1861.

Section 377, which prescribes 10 years to life imprisonment for sodomy, was a progressive law for England at that time. England had for centuries been torturing men to death for having sexual relations with each other. But in India, as far as we know, no one had been executed for same-sex relations until the 16th century, when the Portuguese rulers in Goa burnt a boy to death for sodomy. 

In Europe, sodomy was called the crime not to be named among Christians; that is why Oscar Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred Douglas coined the phrase ‘the love that dare not speak its name’. In India, same-sex sexuality was never unspeakable. Indians had been writing about it in numerous languages for centuries.

Over the next century, many Indians internalised the irrational fear of homosexuality (homophobia) that was dominant in England in Macaulay’s time. With regard to sexuality, to a great extent we absorbed English tastes, opinions and morals. But times have changed. Britain got rid of its anti-sodomy law in 1967, and today gay Englishmen and women are entitled to the same civil rights as non-gay ones.

Unfortunately and ironically, some Indians retain the English tastes, opinions and morals of Macaulay’s time, with regard to sexuality. Why fixate on being like or unlike the West? Why not, for a change, look Eastward?

Japan, which, like India, has a history of accepting the full spectrum of human sexuality, criminalised homosexuality for the first time in 1872 during the Meijei era, and then decriminalised it in 1880. Thailand decriminalised homosexuality in 1956. China decriminalised homosexuality in 1997, before the United States did in 2005. 

So why should Indians feel that we are imitating the West if we confirm constitutional rights for LGBT citizens? Why not view ourselves as following Japan or Thailand? As long as we measure ourselves only by the West, we will not wake up from Macaulay’s dream.

Ruth Vanita is the co-editor of Same-Sex Love in India: A Literary History, and the author of Gender, Sex and the City: Urdu Rekhti Poetry 1780-1870.

The views expressed by the author are personal

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‘The SC can only reverse 2009 judgment legally, not socially’

‘The SC can only reverse 2009 judgment legally, not socially’ | homosexuality | Scoop.it
‘The SC can only reverse 2009 judgment legally, not socially’

DEEPA KURUP

SHARE  ·   PRINT   ·   T+   Arvind Narrain

The Supreme Courts’ decision to set aside the 2009 Delhi High Court ruling deleting Section 377 is a “huge abdication of the constitutional responsibility of the Supreme Court”, says Arvind Narrain, a lawyer with the Bangalore-based Alternative Law Forum and part of the legal team that has been fighting the petition in courts for over a decade.

In an interview with The Hindu, he says while it’s a moment of disappointment and anger, it’s also one of hope; for, while the SC has been able to reverse the 2009 judgement legally, but socially it cannot reverse the social change the community has seen.

You’ve said this ruling falters on the question of constitutionality. Why is this so?

The ruling is most shocking as it has misunderstood the philosophy of the Constitution, which is that when all else fails, the judiciary steps in to protect the interests of the minorities. The basic point that has been made in the order is that given the LGBT community is a miniscule minority and less than 200 cases have been booked to date under Section 377, there is not enough grounds to challenge the validity of the law. That reading is troubling. We are not a majoritarian democracy, we are a constitutional one.

The Supreme Court appears to have put the ball in the Parliament’s court. Do you think there is the political will, given powerful religious groups are lobbying against it, to enact a legislation to decriminalise?

It is fundamentally wrong for the Courts to put the ball in the Parliament’s court. They are saying let the majority decide. See, with the Delhi HC judgement, the courts have played an educative role and political influence was influenced positively.

The government, after a few flip flops on this, submitted in favour of striking down Section 377. Does this make you optimistic about taking the legislative route?

The government got it right with their submission. In his oral submission, the Attorney General G. E. Vahanvati termed the law as sexual imperialism and the government supported the Delhi HC ruling. This was indeed an impact of the progressive nature of the 2009 ruling. But, we are currently looking at exploring the legal options before us .

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