By the time laws are placed, excised and strengthened to satisfy every minority group in the assembly line, it will be the end of humankind. The LGBTQIA+ community has been fortunate gaining acceptance in most parts of the world and now in India, too, with the Supreme Court decriminalising Section 377.
With that, homosexuals can go head and have consensual sex in private as much as they want and the police will have no right to break down bedroom doors and haul them to jail. It’s another matter that the gay have never been shy of boisterous public display of affection, often shocking straight folks.
A five-judge constitution bench made the “correction” with the chief justice of India Dipak Misra “reading down” Section 377. Not that the 157-year-old section is going anywhere from the statue book. It will stay there, waiting for an honourable exit at the hands of Parliament, except that it cannot turn and bite anymore. That serpent is without fangs.
“I’m what I’m, take me as I’m,” was the common thought binding the five judges, with the unanimous judgement stressing that individuality and identity have to be recognised, and they have been accepted with this judgement on this day of September 6, 2018; a landmark judgement which turned the Supreme Court compound into a sea of public display of affection with the gay-pride rainbow flag flying proudly next to the tricolour in the apex court compound.
The five-judge bench ruled that LGBTQIA+ community possess equal rights as other citizens and that social morality cannot be used to violate the fundamental rights of even a single individual; that till now sexual minorities in India “have lived in fear, hiding as second class citizens,” but no more.
Celebrations couldn’t wait to erupt. Sweets made the round and LGBTQIA+ made their pleasure felt in myriad ways. The disinterested heterosexual may wonder what the hullabaloo was all about but the LGBTQIA+ community is already thinking ahead, looking at what the floodgates will throw up in terms of “marriage, adoption, inheritance, surrogacy, property rights, rape, privacy, adultery, etcetra, etcetra.” Laws will be challenged as India moves from “natural” to “unnatural.”
For, shout as much as they can, boiled down to the bare minimum, the fight was to engage in gay sex with no cops interrupting the proceedings. That said the jury is still out on whether gay sex is unnatural or not? Only the human being questions the natural order. Only the human being speaks of ‘sexual orientation’. Only the human being has ‘recreational sex’. Engaging in animal sex and paedophile is also a human disorder. The last two remain crimes and stand separate from the decriminalisation of Section 377, gay sex.
Not everybody is satisfied though. Pandit Ajay Gautam of HumHindu.com says there’s no way Section 377 will be struck off the statute book because “it’s a protected law.” The Gautams of this world are also emphatic that homosexuality is a “disease” and need medical and psychiatric intervention.
The Modi government stood aside for the Supreme Court bench to decide as it thought fit. The feeling was that the apex court “found a way around”. No political party of India except the Congress is ‘progressive and liberal’ enough to speak for LGBTQIA+ rights. Congress leader Shashi Tharoor celebrated the decriminalising of Section 377. The NCP called the Supreme Court ruling against the ‘order of nature’, so ‘man will fight nature’, and it was definitely not with it.
Justice R Nariman said the ruling should be publicised in every nook and corner of India and it’s for the government to take the lead. This goes with the LGBTQIA+ contention that it’s a misconception to believe that homosexuality is an elitist-urban phenomenon and has no roots in rural ambience. Talking of publicity, it should also be spread far and wide that beastialty and paedophile remain a crime.
All that said and, quite frankly, ‘harassment’ will still be around. Instead of homosexuals being harassed by the police, homosexuals stalking and harassing male and female non-homosexuals will make news. What happens in college and school hostels and the way colleges and schools administer the law will have to be seen. Homosexuals are from the same social milieu as the heterosexual. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code punished “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man, woman or animal” with life imprisonment.
(Author is a political commentator)