Majority of us may be indifferent about the Supreme Court’s decision upholding Section 377 and re-criminalizing homosexuality because it does not affect us. Majority of us may be sorry for or have pity with 2.5 million LGBTs who are directly affected by the decision
because it is totally unfortunate that they are how they are. Majority of us may think that the issue is just getting hyped by the media and its just ‘much ado about nothing’. But at the same time majority of us may be affected by lack of awareness.
Not that I am a gay right activist or something, nor I have done some research on this issue. I am just a commoner who is as averagely informed as somebody might be, it is just that there are few things with this whole issue which disturb me and which I discuss here below.
1. Racism: ‘In 1861 when America was fighting civil war on the issue of slavery, India was passing Section 377’, said Dr. Amartya Sen in an interview. Isn’t it ironical! Because what this decision of the Supreme Court has largely done is that it has reduced the whole issue to ‘us’ and ‘they’. Even as I consider this issue affecting a wholesome ‘us’, there is a majority that does not think so. And the reason I am using the word ‘majority’ again and again is that the Supreme Court verdict has created a new minority. The people who are affected, now feel oppressed and unite to fight for their rights while most of us act like onlookers of their protest.And much to their woes, this new minority is not a potential vote bank which could attract immediate action from the law makers.
So India, which brags about ‘unity and diversity’ and where secularism is a major issue and whose constitution forbids any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, color, religion and sex, gets a new community classified on the basis of sexuality.
2. Human Rights: Those who are following the news debates and newspaper editorials on this issue regularly must have had enough of the Human Rights stuff on this. But my apprehension is quite different from what has been said so far and to understand that we need to have a basic knowledge of what section 377 actually is.
The Section 377 of IPC actually says, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
So, it actually does not mention homosexuality anywhere, but this section criminalizes homosexuals because it is considered to be an ‘unnatural act’. But for my reader’s kind knowledge I shall bring out that it is not the only unnatural act mentioned in the constitution. Actually any sexual act which is not a peno-vaginal penetration is an unnatural act. Hence oral sex and anal sex also come under the purview of this section.
Now, talking of human rights, I feel offended. Not because of the inanity of our constitution but because the depth to which our law can get into our private lives. It would be rather better to have a procedure of ‘court monitored sex’ than having such pervading laws.
3. Misuse of Law: We all know that there is hardly any law in India which rules out the possibility of it being misused. Talking about 377 of the IPC, I would like to cite an example to prove that it has the ability of being misused not just against homosexuals but also heterosexuals.
According to a Mumbai Mirror report- ‘About ten years ago, a women in her twenties and barely an year into marriage maintained a diary to keep a record of each time she had oral sex with her husband. Soon she filed for divorce on the grounds of cruelty.’
Hence Proved, I suppose!
4. Affect on the society: Those who talk in favor of the Supreme Court decision talk about the India’s culture, its tradition and the adverse affect of homosexuality on the society. I have an inverse view point on this. I am more apprehensive about the affect this decision would have on the society.
Even if you suddenly criminalize 2.5 million people, they would not change their sexual orientation just because the law says so. They are going to stay as they are. So legally speaking they would stay criminals. Now these criminals are liable to be exploited by the police! And when such things happen to a person the most common outcome is that he stops believing in the system of law (unless he is a Gandhi of 21st century). And this I think is the actual threat to the Indian society, its culture and its tradition.
Imagine 2.5 million people rejected, ignored and mocked by the society, on the top of it exploited by law! Where would such anger and frustration vent out! Remember, “All oppression leads to war” some one has rightly said.