simple, complex, thinking, senseless, reverent, ignorant, mindful, thankless –
whatever one is – one cannot be denied the right to live his the way he/she
wants if it is not affecting the other lives.
It is basically about
his/her human rights, universally defined by the United Nations as: Human
rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place
of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or
any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without
discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and
..equally entitled without discrimination..these rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible..RIGHT TO EQUALITY..some estimates say there are 100 million of them in India..excluded..made outcasts again..when they are just like you and me..yes, with a different view of life..that is their individual choice that doesn't interfere in other lives..and their right to live the life the way feel has to be respected..
It was a strange decision
by the Supreme Court of India this morning to wash its hands off on approving a
norm that a High Court had paved the way for in 2009 to become social norm. The
Delhi High Court, in its landmark ruling in July 2009, had decriminalised the Section
377 of the Indian Penal Code that made the gay-sex a criminal act.
Though the Supreme Court
didn’t make any negative comment on the LGBT community rights, it pushed the
ball to be rolled by the government thus delaying the whole issue and in doing
so, it has again, made 377 a tool to criminalise the gay-sex and so to
victimize the LGBT community.
Like faith, relations and
sexual orientations are very private aspects of an individual’s life and no one
should interfere in such decisions, not even courts and governments.
It is silly to talk of
norms while talking of same-sex marriages and gay-sex when we organize
discourses on big-ticket terms like ‘individual freedom’, ‘freedom of
expression’ and ‘right to privacy’. Why should we make war cry on NSA snooping
One may be straight but one
should not be straightjacketed while deciding on their identity, their freedom
of expression, their freedom to lead their life their own way, their freedom to
formulate their norms (that do not encroach in others’ lives), their individuality
and their life just because, by virtue of one’s position in society and in the
system, one has been given the power to make the norms for them.
It is true members of a
society have to follow some laid down norms if the society has to move ahead
progressively. But it is also equally true that norms need to change with time
otherwise they start weakening the weaving of that society; they start stinking.
Can we allow punishing
and killing for inter-caste, inter-religion or same-Gotra marriages? We cannot.
Such practices were well-entrenched unspoken norms once. They are still norms
in many mindsets. They kill in the name of honour. But, legally, we punish
them. For any progressive, civilized society, such practices can never be
When we give consenting
adults the right to choose their life partners irrespective of what the family
and the society say, why can’t we give them the most basic right to them, the
right over their sense, the right over their bodies?
When the Delhi High Court
had delivered the landmark judgement in 2009 after giving a negative verdict
some years ago, it was on the directive of the Supreme Court to reconsider the
stand taken and so everyone was sure that the top court was going to take a favourable
view giving the fight a legal validity in finality.
It was due to this
expectation that everyone was taken aback this morning when the Supreme Court set
aside the Delhi High Court order. Now the ball in the government’s court and at
least a year’s fight is ahead.
Sharing here the article
that I had written in 2009 after the Delhi High Court verdict that made the
future looks so certain for such members of our society who are just like us
and must be given the equal rights that we enjoy.
QUEER, LGBT, 377..FUNCTIONAL
VOCAB GOT ENRICHED..
July 12, 2009
We had a Mexican batch mate in
Communication course at Banaras
That was not so long ago.
Abraham had travelled all the way
from that part of the world to India
to fit it in his itinerary of career advancement. We made good batch-mates
initially. There was something peculiar about him which I didn't notice or
could not take seriously at that time. He would walk with me but would abstain
holding my hands and would be very cautious about it. Sometimes he would ask me
about people being gay or lesbian when he would see people walking holding
their hands. I did what I had to say. I would go on explaining it as part of
Indian culture and emotive bond that we spontaneously inculcate in our relations
and we know, for sure, for most of us, we are natural with all these gestures
of body-language. I can say I had been able to convince him about it that it
was not so prevalent though it was not absent from the society. I had a
perception like most of us that it was something very, very restricted in
occurrence, certainly not millions of cases with around 4.5 million cases of
HIV/AIDS in India
involving men having sex with men (MSMs) as mentioned by previous Health
Minister A Ramadoss last year.
But that was not long ago.
Then I was not aware of it that
it would become a sort of national debate that it has become now. It is good to
see a debate growing on a sensitive issue on a wide scale and that too in a
span of few years. 377 is the buzz word now. Delhi HC decision to decriminalise
homosexual sex between consenting adults is certainly a landmark for an
individual's identity. True, it raises many debatable questions; we need to
accept it as part of the process. Foremost factor is the value of human dignity.
We, human beings, are basically emotional creatures and need some outlet to
depend on and we go on to develop relations within the circle. It may be
anyone; even one’s own self, whosoever clicks. Choosing someone as your
intimate one is your private decision. People should be left with their lives
as long as it is not interfering directly with lives of others. But there are
bottlenecks and bottlenecks. The religious leaders, across the sections, have
closed their ranks against it. Government which had not so differing voices
before and just after the Delhi HC decision, seems divided now, and is seeking
more time from the apex court, the Supreme Court. But then the government was
never very clear about it with differing views of Health Ministry, Home Ministry
and Law Ministry on the matter since Naz Foundation started a legal battle in
2002. And so, this divide within the ranks of the government was just a matter
of time on an issue which has religious tentacles and therefore electoral
Homosexuality has been a
sensitive issue. It dates back to ancient times. It has both positive and
negative connotations if we go with the scholarship available on texts of
While Manu Smriti, which laid a code of conduct for human behaviour, has
implicit and negative references to it, Kamasutra is vivid about it not going
into debates and implications of societal norms related to homosexuality. Many
other scriptures, too, have mentions of homosexuality. What is important here,
to infer from all this, that homosexuality has been an issue, though this time
it has got a wide fervour and we can go on finding why this time.
But in a country where talking even
about straight sex is highly suppressed, considered a taboo, talking about
homosexuality was no less than a sin. Homosexuality was not at all a matter of
debate. What is important here to note how it was subjugated to our phony ways
in handling sensitive but unorthodox issues? True change is happening, we have
started discussing about sex education and advocating for talking about sex in
open; still we have varying and largely opposing counter-demands, violent
retributions and retracting tactics every time we seem to have arrived at a
decision to implement something unorthodox according to our societal norms;
still we have not been able to make sex education a matter of national debate
so as to make it universal, so as to induct it into school education. We cannot
do that till we leave our escapism at bay. Let’s accept it, let’s not divert
When talking about subjugation of
homosexuality, it is clear it had to happen but how come, in just eight years,
the same has become a matter of a national debate. It is important to be
probed. It is inferential and it is implicative. It can throw light on the way
we think, the societal norms that tend to thrive. Also it leads us to ponder
over another big issue, issue of insipid culture of debate in our country on
matters that might have far reaching implications. Had it not been like this,
we would have a much better society, we would have well received outcomes for
well conceived plans. Amartya Sen says we Indians are basically argumentative;
it is something ingrained in our nature and so in our culture. He goes at
length explaining this in his book, which too, traces antiquity to modernity of
culture and a debating Indian.
Why then this insipid culture of
debate? Probably, we all know the answers. We have stopped caring if we are
being heard. We react, we boil internally, then we go back to do the usual
things as nothing has happened. We have become more compromising as a society.
Had it not been like this, we would have raging debates and not just
politicking over issues like reservation for affirmative action, reservation
for equal opportunities, uniform civil code, caste discriminations and internal
violence, sex education, educational reforms, illegal immigrants, still higher
illiteracy and poverty rate and so on, even after 60 years of independence. Every
such debate has been subjected to subjugation in the name of societal norms,
aping alien culture, national interest and what not. The policy ballooning has
been very well carved out, it seems. We need not go into the statistical
details of national and international agencies to prove it. Instead of focusing
on basic issues to uplift the living standards of the last man, what we have
seen largely, is foul play of words.
That was since a long ago.
That was not a long ago.
It makes it a queer case the way
homosexuality, the Queer phenomenon, has become a sort of national debate in
just few years. But do we have ways to assess what the majority of people in
the streets think about it. We do not have. At one hand the debate focuses on
rights of an individual identity, on the other hand it is an ironical case
study given the pace it could get. By that I don't intend to hurt anyone's
sentiments. I am trying to be objective here from a macro-viewpoint, diverting
for a while from an individual viewpoint. Ironical because why we couldn’t have
this sort of debate on issues of far more inevitability to the texture of our
society? Child marriage has been a curse, but its prevalence in this age
compels a media house to produce a chart topping show. Have we ever had a raging
national debate on the issue of child marriages? Had it been there, application
of the law would not be so insipid. Similar is the case with dowry incidents
and widow re-marriages.
How long will it go like this?
We do not have answer.
Certainly the Delhi HC decision
is a landmark for individual identity and freedom of expression. Personal
vanity has to be respected at any cost. LGBT community has always been part of
any society. They were sidelined. The mainstreaming movement started in other
cultures had to come to India.
We simply can't ignore valid human rights given to someone in a different
culture in the name of societal, religious or spiritual norms in our culture.
We should wish the apex court would ratify the decision. Queer, LGBT, 377, Homosexuality
should remain part of the functional vocab. We should wish the debate would
continue to include the LGBT community in the mainstream to achieve the
objective of a more homogeneous texture of the social sphere. We should wish it
will lead to a culture of comprehensive debates on other issues.
That should not take so long.
We can wish only.