Time Out celebrates Mumbai’s Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities
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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Sexual habits of the Adélie penguin, were printed for private circulation and expressly marked in bold typeface ‘Not for Publication.’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
Gay community finds 'comfort' on social mediaMonday, Jan 20, 2014, 17:24 IST | Place: NEW YORK | Agency: IANS
"Social media today is a new frontier for communicating intergroup attitudes," said Rattan.
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.
Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/lgbt-community-supreme-court-gays-lesbians-transgenders-rape-gangrape/1/331166.html
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.
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.
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
समलैंगिकताः कहीं खुल्लम खुल्ला, कहीं हो-हल्लाआईबीएन-7 | Nov 26, 2008 at 07:46pm | Updated Nov 26, 2008 at 08:15pmMore on:#Homosexuality# Debate
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।
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
'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।
पाकिस्तान में पहली समलैंगिक वेबसाइट पर पाबंदीवार्ता | Sep 27, 2013 at 10:59amMore on:#Pakistan# Homosexual# Website# Banned# Internet
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।
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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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.
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
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 कापता 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
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
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.
By Vikram Phukan on January 17 2014 10.34am
OUT OF SHADOWS
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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.
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.
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.
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.
Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/homosexuality-supreme-court-verdict-on-section-377-gay-rights/1/332034.html
The secret and dangerous life of my gay friend
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.”
A poet and gay activist
Ludhiana, December 16
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.
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
लाइफस्टाइल की अन्य खबरों के लिए यहां क्लिक करें।
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
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।
FASHION & STYLEBisexual: A Label With LayersTom Daley Comes Out as Bisexual, Igniting L.G.B.T. Debate
Ruth Vanita , Hindustan Times
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’.
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.
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.
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
‘The SC can only reverse 2009 judgment legally, not socially’
DEEPA KURUPSHARE · 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 .