Hyderabad: The date 11.12.13 was not an auspicious one for the country’s LGBT community as the Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside an earlier 2009 Delhi HC ruling and upheld Article 377 that criminalises homosexuality.
“The verdict has set back the country’s legal system to medieval times. By upholding Article 377, the judiciary has failed to live up to the fundamental right and statutory note of the Constitution, which emphasises that all are equal in the eyes of law. I am very worried and concerned for my friends or fellow gay men in Hyderabad who have shown courage to open up before the society. All will now go back in the closet, feel repressed and dejected after being robbed of their civil liberties. In fact, many might become suicidal,” said Rahul Ghosh, a software designer from the city.
A resident of the city, Vishal, said, “I pay my taxes, I contribute my best to the country and I don’t harm anyone. So, what happens in my bedroom with the consent between two individuals is not anybody elses concern. And one cannot impose rules on sexual orientation.”
Over 200-250 members from different groups, organisations and NGOs gathered in the city on Tuesday evening and decided to approach the law makers and the SC and request them to revoke the order.
Abhi, a student, said, “This is not my fault. I am just born this way. The verdict is very demoralising when countries across the world, including the UK, are making efforts to lega-lise it. Talking about sex, sexuality and sexual orientation is still a stigma in India. One cannot discuss it with their parents and now with this, all of us will go back into our closets.”
Antara, a musician and a member of the LGBT community, said, “I have no words to describe how shocking it is to come to terms with the decision. So, one morning all of us wake up as criminals. We are all angry and we want to channelise this anger to fight a battle.” Simran, a transgender, said that as an Indian citizen, she felt that there were no rights to protect her. “Four years ago, they decriminalised it and now they are going back on the decision. I opened up because I knew there was a law backing me. But now I am worried whether I will be arrested for no fault of mine.”
While Munzar, another member of the community, said, “The judiciary has not defined what is natural and unnatural. Hence, when you label consensual sex as unnatural, it abridges the rights of individuals directly; the term unnatural is debatable. If you ask me what’s unnatural, it’s a juvenile man raping a young girl and still being protected under Juvenile Law; a politician looting the country and the regressive thought processes that are ruling the country.”
A section of the society that was undergoing a major cultural shift is now perhaps back at square one.
Meanwhile, parents of many LGBT members said that they had mixed emotions about the verdict and were perplexed as to how to react. “When my son opened up to me, I grounded him and locked him at home for a week. He then attempted suicide after which I got really worried and then started to understand him. It took me more than a year to come to terms with how things were biologically different with him. He also explained Section 377 to me. But now, I don’t know if I should support him anymore and what is good for him,” said a parent.
The community, however, took note of the fact that in a larger context, the judgement did provide the legislative bodies to relook at the clauses of Article 377.
Vijay R. Nair, programme manager, Pehchan and International HIV/AIDS Alliance said, “The Court’s verdict does have a scope to reconsider. What surprises me is that though the Constitution has been amended by the legislative and executive bodies a number of times, not a single amendment has been carried forth to review the status of LGBTs in the country. We are going to go on the streets and will die for our rights.”
Next: Gay relations are illegal in over 70 countries
Gay relations are illegal in over 70 countries. Punishments range from life in prison, forced “psych cures” to death by public stoning.
Barbados: 10 yrs in jail
Bhutan: Month in jail
Dominica: 25 yrs in jail and psych analysis
Saudi Arabia: Death by public stoning
Sri Lanka:?Up to 10
Pakistan:?Up to 10
yrs in prison
Malaysia:?20 yrs jail and/or whipping
Mauritius: Lesbians allowed. Men face five years.
Singapore: Men face two years in jail. Lesbians permitted.
RUSSIA & CHINA
- Russia’s law on “non-traditional” sex also places an absolute ban on discussing LGBT affairs. Foreigners face immediate deportation.
- China decriminalised homosexuality in 1997. But laws to protect the LGBT community are non-existent.
l Britain l New Zealand, Uruguay l France l Denmark l Argentina l Canada l Australia, South Africa l Norway l Sweden l Iceland, Portugal l Brazil l The Netherlands l Spain l Germany ( These nations allow civil unions and partnerships )
And, In the U.S.
- 33 US states limit marriage to opposite-sex couples
- 16 states, including Washington D.C, allow same-sex marriage.
Next: Politicians confused over stand on SC order, afraid to lose votes
Politicians confused over stand on SC order, afraid to lose votes
Sanjay Basak I DC
New Delhi: Reeling under electoral defeats, the Supreme Court’s verdict on gay rights was the last thing the government needed in an election year.
Homosexuality is an issue where society is sharply divided. Any decision by the government either in favour or against can rouse passions of different sections of society. “We are stuck between the devil and the deep sea,” a senior Congress leader observed.
The traditional vote banks of the mainstream parties could be hit if they take a ‘strong stand against the order,’ a BJP politician said.
Though Union ministers Kapil Sibal and Manish Tewari said that the government would ‘exercise its own prerogative,’ politically neither the Congress nor the BJP is willing to move on the issue. Both parties feel that gay rights has ‘limited public support.’
The Congress feels that not acting on the top court judgement might upset the LGBT community but acting in its favour ‘might have an adverse impact on a large chunk of society.’
As for the BJP, it was senior party leader B.P. Singhal who in 2006 had filed a plea in the Delhi High Court opposing the decriminalising of gay sex. If the Congress ministers have come on record saying that the issue would be looked into, none of the BJP leaders were willing to come out openly on this.
The BJP was of the opinion that its traditional vote bank would be hit, if the party was seen coming out in support of the LGBT community. The saffron leaders kept issuing vague statements and said that the ‘court does not have to legalise or illegalise such a thing. It is not against the order of nature.
“The BJP, whose ideology revolves around religion ‘cannot go against religion,” a party functionary said.
Some in the Congress feel that the top court has put the government in a Catch-22 situation. The top ministers of the Congress have been harping on how Parliament must make laws to support executive decisions. Now that the court has lobbed the ball back at them on the issue of Section 377, the government is in a major fix.