Homosexuality: Not a Crime but Still a Stigma

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After striking down the strict rules of courtroom order, HC gave a reason to cheer to over a 100 people who rejoiced on July 2, 2009 when Chief Justice Shah and Justice Muralidhar said, “We declare Section 377 in so far as it criminalizes consensual sexual acts of adults in private is violative of articles 14, 21 and 15 of the Constitution. The provision of Section 377 will continue to govern non-consensual penile non-vaginal sex and penile non vaginal sex involving minors.”

News channels and newspapers couldn’t stop covering the various pre- judgment gay parades and post-judgment celebrations. Gays all over India couldn’t stop gushing about how this is such a huge deal for their community and how overjoyed they are. It was heartening to see these people cry out of sheer joy because they were deprived of their basic human rights for so long and were forced to lead either a life that was the stark opposite of their choice or that of anonymity. Even more heartening was seeing many heterosexuals play champion to this cause.

However, the real question right now is how long it will take for gays to be accepted by the Indian society. Decriminalizing homosexuality is just the first step in that direction and if the debate the aforementioned judgment sparked minutes after it was announced is anything to go by, the gay community needs to have superhuman endurance.

It is understandable that for a country that has been brought up with the belief/fact that homosexuality is an aberration engraved in its head; it’s difficult to accept this judgment. But aren’t we also told that change is the only constant in life? Society is dynamic and if we do not alter our thinking with the changing times, we might just end up still living in the Neanderthal age mentally.
Also, the way the phrase Indian culture is used as a synonym for conservative thinking is tragic. What part of Indian culture gives anybody the right to stigmatize someone’s sexual preferences? What part of Indian culture asks you to label absolutely healthy homosexuals as diseased? Baba Ramdev went as far as comparing gays to animals. That is by far the most appalling comment that has come up regarding this issue. Baba Ramdev is entitled to his opinion, but this opinion is downright ridiculous.
What is essentially bothersome is the fact that everything becomes a moral issue in India. Homosexuals are immoral, seems to be the popular opinion. Why? Just because they’re different from the majority of people? But just because something is in minority doesn’t mean it does not exist. And since when is different another word for abnormal? How the people of our country refuse to acknowledge the existence of certain people is beyond comprehension. Nobody likes change; nobody likes to mix with people who are different. But calling them diseased and immoral is taking it a little too far.
A rather sweeping argument that all religious groups have come up with is that gay sex is against the will of God and homosexuality is nothing less of blasphemy. This happens to be the most preposterous argument because it makes one wonder when exactly did God tell the self-proclaimed moral police about his will. Some of us are born straight and some gay; it’s not up to the individual to choose his or her sexual preference.
Criminalizing homosexuality, harassing gays and making their life miserable is not only going to make them go back to their closeted life, it also limits awareness about safe sex and can lead to AIDS. It is rather surprising that people tend to play moral brigade instead of understanding something as substantial as this. What is it going to amount to anyway? Nothing but making recluses out of homosexuals because let’s face it, who wants to be at the receiving end of ridicule?
Discouraging or criminalizing homosexuality is by no means going to turn those who’re gay, straight. And why would anybody want to do that? If something makes a person happy, so be it. Being with someone of their own sex gives them happiness. And especially when their happiness isn’t threatening anything or anybody, why would anyone in this world be vindictive enough to deprive so many people of happiness. Is it too much to ask for, letting people stay happy?
Whatever the Indian culture and various religions may or may not say, they certainly say ‘live and let live’ and ‘love conquers all’ in some form or the other. Because if the Ranjha of Heer-Ranjha is replaced by another Heer, does it make their love any less sacrosanct?

Kashika Saxena

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/batega/1865482908/]

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