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IPC 377: An analysis
Once again by criminalising section 377 we have taken away the rights of 2 million LGBT people and we pretend that we are on the verge of being a developed nation. In a country where 2 million have been branded as criminals that too due to their private sexual lives is a matter of sadness.

I agree with Fali S. Nariman who said that we need more than just 2 lawyers to give verdict of such importance. Rather than lamenting this, which all reasonable members of civil society are rightly doing, I would like to analyse why India is homophobic?

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Homosexuality is a taboo in India as we know, but what is pertinent here is to discuss why is it so? The foremost reason for this is that it is seen as ‘unnatural, abnormal and pathological’; a ‘psychological disease’. The homophobic attitude that falsely constructs it to a disease is again linked with patriarchy which sees only the male dominated house and a demure wife with kids as the only ‘legitimate family’.

Levi Strauss rightly mentioned about ‘exchange of women among men’, as a necessary tool to sustain patriarchy. Homosexuality challenges this institution. The religious leaders in every society condemn it as ‘against the natural order’ and the masses live with an illusion that it is the only truth.

In terms of litigation, homosexuality will also subvert the property laws by bringing in many complications. So, by consciously recasting it as ‘offensive and sickly’ the society actually tries to sustain property laws which are often partial owing to their derivation from patriarchy and their affiliation with religion. Homosexuality has the power to subvert the rules of society that is biased; unequal and hierarchical (like the family) and this would hamper the long term interests of certain social actors.

A generation prior to those of today’s youths are more homophobic since they have been socialised and internalised that it’s something that is not only undesirable but is criminal. But the question which that generation and the contemporary homophobes need to ask are, “Isn’t the notion of ‘natural’ subjective? Shouldn’t be it defined solely in terms of the individuals involved? If what is natural and normal varies with culture how do we define this term? Is not homosexuality just like any other erotic desire and love?” Personally, my answer is ‘positive’ to all these questions.

Hinduism is perhaps the only religion which celebrates homosexuality. In Kama Sutra and the sculptors of Khajuraho Temple as depicts it. The relationship between Krishna and Arjuna and Arjuna disguised as ‘female’ in exile, the story of Shikhandi all shows that homosexuality is like any other forms of sexuality.

In ancient Mughal traditions there are also examples of ‘slave boys’ who were in a physical relationship with emperors and the place that hijras had in royal courts. Even a emperor’s sexuality was not scrutinised by the masses as it was thought to be something intensely personal. Ancient shayaris of Amir Khushrao also shows his ‘gay orientations’.

Later on such shayaris were ‘sanitised’ by the British and highly heterosexualised. Gender is fluid like any other ‘labels’ since it’s socially constructed, this is beautifully portrayed in movie ‘Chitrangada’ and in the stories of Mahabharata and the story about Ila in the Hindu mythology.

Those on the right wing (of all religions) who scream that it’s a western import need to seriously check their facts. Such people off course have the freedom to think that it is ‘unnatural and abnormal’ but must at the same time have guts enough to accept its existence as natural and respect the LGBT community. After all democracy is only celebrated by accepting people with whom you may not agree. Intolerance is ‘undemocratic’ too.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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