Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Speak Up Against The Section 377 Verdict!

Every day, the sun rises in the sky and fulfills its promise of bringing to me a beautiful, new day. Today morning, I was particularly excited. It was 11.12.13 – an iconic date even more special because today was the day when the Supreme Court verdict on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was coming out. Like many, I was hopeful that the verdict would validate the landmark Delhi High Court judgment of 2009 and the LGBT community would finally heave a sigh of relief amidst a lot of celebrations. What a fool I was!

I checked my Twitter account – a lot of tweets had already started to trickle and with each tweet that I read, my heart just sank deeper and deeper. The verdict was completely contrary to what I had hoped for. I was disappointed. I was angry. I couldn't believe that the Supreme Court had just stripped 2.5 million people off their basic rights to freedom and equality. They may be a minority in a country that boasts of having a population exceeding one billion but 2.5 million is not really a small number. Re-criminalizing homosexuality has just set the gay movement in India behind by several decades. It just didn't seem fair to me!

Thankfully, a lot of people echoed my sentiments. I was relieved to know that I was not the only one who was so outraged. What angered me immensely was some of the arguments that had been raised. I refuse to believe that decriminalizing homosexuality will increase cases of HIV and cancer. I also do not accept the argument that homosexuality is unnatural. It is definitely not a disease and for all those who think it is, they should read the latest manuals of the WHO or the APA.

One person asked me why I care so much about gay rights. I would like to point out that it is not a question of my sexual orientation. The question is about equality. What two consenting adults choose to do in the private space of their bedrooms should be nobody’s business. It is called “private” for a reason. It angers me to think that homosexuals are considered, according to the verdict, even bigger offenders than rapists – after all if you rape someone, you get sentenced to jail for seven years but if you are a homosexual, you can be imprisoned for life. Where is justice in this country? Why is someone being denied rights on the basis of their sexual orientation? By re-criminalizing homosexuality we are denying an entire community their identity.

If the Supreme Court believes that social acceptance is more important than legal acceptance, I would like to know what their take is on discrimination against rape-victims inflicted by society. The court may punish the offender but society still antagonizes the victim on several levels. Why are religious sentiments suddenly so important in a secular nation? Once upon a time, religion advocated evils like caste, sati and raised movements against education – why are we listening to these leaders? Choosing to see homosexuality as unnatural and a criminal offence will only encourage homosexuals to live a life of deceit as they will be too scared to come out of the closet. 

Section 377 was instituted by the British but, with changing times, Britain has not only legalized homosexuality but also gay marriages. Why are we, then, moving back in time? Besides, if one reads Section 377 closely, according to that, even oral sex between a man and a woman is illegal. Since when does the Parliament regulate acts in the bedroom?

We all have the right to love and live a life of dignity. Do not deny these basic human rights to the LGBT community. The verdict is definitely a major setback but the fight must still continue. I appeal to all those people reading this to speak up for the LGBT community and show your support. It does not matter if you are gay or straight. The more the number of voices that speak out, the more will be the pressure on the Parliament to take up this issue. Hopefully, justice will not be denied even though it has definitely been delayed. 

8 comments:

  1. This definitely was a shock..I was proud of this country for once when it rendered justice.. and for India , that was a giant leap- a land where ' rarest of rare' rape cases have to take place for capital punishment..! Now it has again proved that these Cunniving arses in the judiciary and ministry will never facilitate the development of this nation.. these bills are absolutely atrocious..and to think that it was passed right after the world celebrated human rights day..what an irony..

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    1. I think the fight continues and I am hopeful that the Parliament will take up this matter - common sense will prevail in the end :) (I am attempting to be optimistic here!)

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  2. I dont understand the fuss. It's an individual's choice and there ends the matter. We have to respect the choices of an individual. I dont understand why the legal system has tried to interfere in this.

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  3. I agree with you - I find the interference of the legal system in this matter as a violation of basic human rights.

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  4. This is another british legacy which we burden ourselves with without realizing whether it fits in with the all inclusive culture of India. Not all things British were menat for Indians, it was only their way of continuing to rule us long after they left our land. India has been a nation where every individual has been respectfully allowed freedom of expression, I hope the powers that be realize this and correct themselves.

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  5. I am sure common sense will prevail some day!

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  6. The first gay marriage ceremonies took place in England as a law permitting same-sex marriages came into effect on 29th March. Same sex couples rushed to tie the knot across the country, vying to be among the first ones to exchange their vows at the stroke of midnight. The Parliament of UK passed the legislation sanctioning the legality of gay marriages in England and Wales in July 2013. With the law coming into effect now, individuals who have wedded a same sex partner overseas would also be recognized as married in England and Wales. There has been overwhelming popular support for gay marriage in the UK, with multiple surveys showing that over two-thirds of Britons approve of it.

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    1. India still has a long way to go to see that day....

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