The Oxford English Dictionary defines homosexuality as sexual orientation towards people belonging to the same sex. The world of LGBTs (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals) has been frowned upon since ages. It has lived in the dark. These people have always been the topic of ridicule for many of us. They have risked being subject to stereotype and prejudice. Gay men have often been viewed as effeminate, lesbian women have been thought of being masculine. They chose to be different and they were beaten, tormented and jailed for this.
Let us glance through the pages of history to see how attitudes towards homosexuality have changed over time. Homosexuality was considered as a crime, it was regarded as something immoral and sinful throughout the Western world. It was thought of as an inherent weakness, unforgivable and unpardonable. As science progressed, homosexuality came under the scanner once again and was labeled as a pathological disorder towards the fag end of the 19th century.
Today, across the globe, homosexuality is no longer a word which raises the brows of many. The Netherlands became the first country to legalize same sex couples. Countries like Belgium, Spain, Canada, UK and more than 40 states across the USA have followed suit.
Gay rights activism has taken centre stage throughout the world since the 1990s. Activists have fought for the rights of gay and lesbian families, amendment of many laws which considered homosexuality as a crime and have worked for spreading awareness regarding AIDS.
In India, which ironically is also known as the land of the Kamasutra, speaking about one’s sexuality in the open is a taboo. Let alone alternate sexuality. India is one of the few countries where the concept of a third sex exists. Ancient Indian texts like the Manu Smriti, Arthashastra, and Kamasutra contain references to homosexuality.
At a time when all around the world, gay and lesbian rights have been legalized, the section 377 of the IPC defines homosexuality as a crime, despite the fact that an increasing number of same-sex couples living together is a stark reality. The leading metros in India- Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, have a colourful gay nightlife. Gay pride parades have witnessed a large turnout have been held in these cities. The gay pride parade in Mumbai had a large number of people from the film fraternity making their presence felt.More than 2000 people were present at this parade, each one joined in the cavalcade for celebrating his or her individuality .One can even notice an upsurge of gay and lesbian communities on social networking sites, which provide them a relatively safe mode of interaction.
Over the years, organizations like the Naz Foundation in India have attempted to decriminalize homosexuality. The foundation along with many other human rights groups have been working consistently for a plethora of causes like petitioning for the amendment of Section 377, spreading awareness about sexuality and sexual heath among the sexual minorities, fighting HIV etc. Our political parties, however, still prefer to adopt a ‘no comments’ approach regarding this issue.
As the world comes to terms with accepting homosexuality, we Indians can attempt to break free out of the mould of our thinking characterized by our conservative attitude and realize that homosexuals are not freaks or criminals. These are normal people who lead normal lives. They breathe the same air as us and eat the same food. Nature chose to make them the way they are. Can the authority of nature be challenged in any court of law? Let’s end this man-made discrimination.