Taking a cue from iconic authors like Goethe, Shakespeare and Schopenhauer, the verdict released on 6th of September by Supreme Court judges beautifully incorporated quotes like, “I am what I am. Take me as I am….” and “No one can escape from their individuality.” Ironic no? How our governance needed seven decades to recognise the “different” ones in our society; people who have been a part of a “democratic” India for as long as others yet had to hide.
Anyway, fast forward today, almost a week since the judgement, the diminishing appearance of the rainbow flag on so many social media feeds indicate that the virtual celebrations have subsided. Another irony to add if we might is, seventy long years of deliberate damage and the celebrations did not even last seven whole days. People are now onto something new and the “decriminalized” lot enjoys their freedom albeit with a lot of conditions.
All said and done, the cited opinions by political leaders and “protectors of sabhyata” has made one thing crystal clear, that the law might have accepted the gays but the society is yet to receive them in all their glory, all 2.5 million of them! The community in question needs more than just a rainbow tinted profile picture and hastagged bullsh*t right now to realise they are celebrated just like their counterpart genders.
Post-termination: The bad and the good!
The decriminalisation of consensual gay sex will hopefully open the gates of law enforcement agencies for the LGBTQI community. A much-needed stance since the tales of gay folks being subjected to violence, blackmail and intimidation are as old as time. The whole community, for the fear of adverse legal implications, is extremely reluctant to confide in the law for refuge and aid which all being well will change now.
But there’s another side to this coin, this judgment has opened up an array of grey areas considering there’s still lack of proper laws and guidelines to fight diverse situations. For instance, say, a gay individual withdraws “consent” and lodges a complaint against their partner. India’s laws on sexual assault do not recognise men as victims of rape, another major setback. Police will now have to establish the principle of consent. In cases of rape, the principle of consent is well defined, but in same-sex relationships, law enforcement agencies will now have to rely on precedents, which will mean consenting adults.
Well, all we have to say is, God’s mills may grind slow, but the Indian legal system grinds slower! And the fact that people fighting were not ground down by it is worth appreciation.
Anyway, there’s been a lot of hue and cry about how the termination of Section 377 being anti-religious and a conspiracy to hitch western beliefs in Indian culture which brings us to a pattern we’ve witnessed time and again. Change is something our people seem to be terrified of! Imagine if it was for the keepers of “sanskriti,” traditions like Sati and Untouchability would still be lurking around. Somehow Indian society has been conditioned to blame the west for everything that they think is wrong with our generation and everything else. They believe that there’s been a hike in the number of people belonging to the LGBTQ group when in reality; they are just being relatively open now. Perhaps they are tired of hiding. People refer to it as a disease when in reality nobody has a choice in this matter; nobody chooses who they are attracted to or not for that matter. There’s a common myth entertained by majority of India that the LGBTQ group has a choice in the matter of preferences and yet they deliberately take the decision that threatens the society, periling the “institution of marriage”. Well, many countries like Netherlands, France and Norway have legalised same-sex marriage while not destabilizing their society. In fact, the countries rank way better than India in happiness and mental health.
The sad part is even after the section has been terminated the freedom of the LGBTQ community is already stained with a lot of uncertainty and negativity. Perhaps some might think differently, but the truth is that they exist, they didn’t choose this life and they deserve equal rights. It will be best for all of us to accept it at the earliest because denial is not going to help anybody! Maybe a wee-bit assurance from “straights” will help the gay folks come out early on. They have long survived in the shadow, it’s their time to banish the life of ridicule and joke and embrace their real selves.
We totally understand that some might disagree but consider them just humans’ asking for equal rights! Not a woman, man or third gender, but just a human. Now, we can ask that much of tolerance from the world’s largest democracy!