In November 2013, Swapna, a transgender, witnessed a giant leap in stature as the Madras High Court delivered a historic interim order and gave her kind the right to participate and write state competitive exams. But the hope for a new beginning for the LGBT community soon came crashing. The world’s largest democracy turned its back on over 2.5 million homosexuals and reinstated a senseless 153 year-old article, Section 377 of IPC, simply to preserve social values and morals. This is the same country which institutionalized child marriage, but snubbed homosexuals as a part of the society. The verdict has pushed back the LGBT community to the dungeons and allowed the atrocities against the Third Sex to persevere.
Homosexuality might have been shunned from the modern Indian society but one cannot deny its association with our country’s 1000 year old history. It is not a concept that has been influenced by the Westerners as we think of it today. Description of homosexuals can be found in the Kama Sutra, Rig Veda, Sushruta Samhita and Manu Smriti. One can see various sculptures at Khajuraho depicting men and women embracing homosexual acts. Epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata too mention characters belonging to the third sex.
Then what made us change our perception towards the LGBT? Homosexuality is an issue associated with fear, hatred, discrimination, violence and disgust. The law, set up to banish “unnatural sexual act”, was drafted in 1861 during the British colonial rule. Since then, nothing much has changed since our outlook towards this particular kind remains the same. Little knowledge about homosexuality, pardah of cultural values and social believes, and on-going violence against queer makes India the worst place to live in for homosexuals.
Supreme Court’s verdict is in clear violation of article 14 of our constitution which states that “the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth“. There is neither equality nor freedom of choice in our gender/sex biased society.
We have evolved as a land of snake charmers to the software capital of the world but are still debating over gay rights and a poorly stated article, Section 377.
By Archana Rao
Image Source : LGBT Pride Flag