June 15th, 2016
The Logical Indian community hails the very healthy remark by our Prime Minister Mr. Modi on the Orlando mass shooting which took place on 12th June 2016. He has very rightly offered condolences to the bereaved in the massacre through his tweet, disregarding the fact that the shooting was aimed at a gay club. To call it merely tragedy would be to belittle the already brow-beaten lives of a community which is largely biased against. It takes a big heart to take into account that they were not people from the LGBT community but human beings worthy of dignity and respect. Mr. Modi chose to overlook the homophobia that, unfortunately, still exists at large across the globe.
We would be so much more heartened to see him take a similar stand on the LGBT community in our own country. Indian Penal Code 377 still exists in India. It was a part of the British colonial legacy in India, introduced in 1860 and means the following:
Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. The ambit of Section 377 extends to any, even consensual, homosexual acts.
Thus, a section of men and women, lesbians, gays, transgender, and bisexual, who had been a part of Indian culture from time immemorial, were declared as “criminals”, literally with a stroke of a pen. If people of the same sex come out to the society, or the police get a whiff of their activities (never mind behind closed doors and with full consent) they can land into jails, or even killed. There is no legal recognition of their existence except as criminals.
The pain, trauma, hope and happiness of this minor yet large LGBT community of India have been explored in many documentaries, like “Purple Skies”, a number of movies, books, queer festivals and so on. Luminaries of Arts, Humanities, lawyers, medical professionals and various NGOs like the Naaz Foundation have uncovered the lives of this community through various media.
They have offered a glimpse of violence they suffer, physically and more poignantly, emotionally on a daily basis throughout their lives. Many marry to the opposite sex, thus ruining three lives, their own, their spouses’ and the probable partner (if any) – all this just to keep up the pretence of socially “normative” heterosexual behavior. A lot of times they have to “pay the cost of their coming out” with their lives.
It is to be noted that in 2009 the Delhi High Court had read down IPC 377 (thus decriminalising homosexuality) but in 2013, the Supreme Court dismissed the High Court’s ruling. The fate of this code is still in limbo. This despite the fact that the country which invoked IPC 377, that is, UK itself has decriminalised homosexuality. It is no longer considered to be an “unnatural act” fit to be punished.
We know that the mindset of people, especially a generation elder to us in India, will take time to change. However, we see a wave of change in our own generation and the parents of LGBT community members who are struggling for legal and legislative protection for themselves or their family members.
There are answers to questions like how can such couples have a family, the very basis of having a heterosexual conjugal relationship being reproduction of children. We have millions of children starving in this world. Adoption of those children by gay couples would make complete families and those children will be more sensitive to the diversities in family lives and society in general.
The Logical Indian community would be in a celebratory mode if our dear Prime Minister could kindly go a step further and bring about a legislative and legal amendment to IPC 377. It would go a long way in preventing the inferiority complex, trauma related to sexual choices (some not even chosen but there by birth), the legal hassles the LGBT community in our country faces, and the last and saddest resort they are often forced to undertake – either being killed by homophobic people or committing suicide due to the stigma attached to same-sex love.