Queer, isn’t it? Coming from a saffron brigade like RSS, which is known for its ‘traditionalist’ notions on same-sex relationships?
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale has reversed the organisation’s view by coming out in support of homosexuality, at the India Today conclave in New Delhi on March 17. In a bold and unabashed statement, the Sangh stalwart said, “Why should RSS have an opinion on homosexuality? It is not a crime, as long as it does not affect the lives of others. Sexual preferences are personal issues. Why should RSS express its views on a public forum? RSS has no view on that. It is for people to have their way. Personal preference of sex is not discussed in RSS and we don’t even want to discuss that”.
The momentous proclamation has raised hopes of the Centre pushing for decriminalising homosexuality, quashing Section 377 of IPC – a colonial era law that makes gay-sex a criminal offence, punishable under law. In 2009, the Delhi High Court had called the section discriminatory, saying gay relationship between consenting adults is not a crime. The revolutionary elation was short-lived, as the Supreme Court upheld the old law in 2013.
At present, Section 377 terms homosexuality as unnatural, and ‘offenders’ may be sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. When most countries across the globe are recognizing homosexuals, India is still fighting to get the right-to-love sanctioned.
There have been deliberations and discussions to decriminalise homosexuality, but nothing valuable has been achieved. Amidst parades, protests and arguments, the rousing issue had sporadically surfaced, only to be muzzled again.
What RSS’ statement could mean
Hosabale’s declaration – that is making headlines and is being celebrated by LGBT groups and heterosexuals alike – has come at a time when there is increasing distress in the country against the NDA government. The Bharatiya Janata Party that echoes the views of the “Hindutva organisation” may feel compelled to push the issue of LGBT rights and regain some lost confidence. Within the party as well, there have been voices supporting decriminalisation of same-sex relationships.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the apex court had taken a conservative stand on the issue. Prior to this, Ram Madhav, an RSS member and currently a BJP general secretary, had said homosexuality being a criminal offence is highly debatable, irrespective of one’s views on it.
Needless to say, Hosabale has made a crucial point that may metamorphose the society for good, and stress on the rights of millions of people who comprise the LGBT community and have been disregarded so far.