Today is a black day in the history of Indian Judiciary. The Supreme Court has criminalized homosexuality again and set aside Delhi High Court’s ruling in 2009. The SC judgement on Article 377 is a step backwards and is a barbaric and medieval act. It only shows how regressive world’s largest democracy is. We are going back to Barbarism in 2014 when we deny basic human rights to all the citizens irrespective of their gender and sexuality. Shame on you Supreme Court, shame on you.
Section 377 was introduced by the British Rulers 153 years back, who were under the influence of Victorian morality and values in regard to family and the procreative nature of sex. The Indian society prevalent before the enactment of the IPC had a much greater tolerance of homosexuality than its British counterpart, as it was not a reflection of the existing Indian values and traditions. Although the British read down this section and decriminalized homosexuality in 1967, it took India 62 years after independence to take this landmark decision. It was still a welcome and historic moment when the Delhi High Court read down Section 377 and decriminalized homosexuality in 2009. After such a progressive act by the Delhi HC in 2009, the Supreme Court’s decision was expected to be positive till yesterday. It was hoped that after SC reads down Section 377, it will just take a couple of years when same sex marriages would be legalized in India and the future of LGBTQI community seemed to be bright. After all, we saw Pride Marches happening in every big city, more people coming out and joining in, parents, relatives, friends, supporting their loved ones and the various state police departments being tolerant and in some cases also supportive.
But, alas, we hoped too much. Too much from the world’s largest democracy. Too much from an emerging economic power. Too much from a country that is proud of it’s rich culture. Yesterday was Human Rights Day, and today the Supreme Court showed us “all humans are equal, but some are less equal than others”. The constitution calls our nation a secular state and still we succumb to the pressure of various religious leaders and take such a retrograde step. Why is it that religion likes to control sex? What one does in private with a consenting adult shouldn’t be a matter of religion. Then we have those who claim to ‘cure’ homosexuality. Baba Ramdev has greeted the judgement and asked all homosexuals to visit him and attend his sessions to have a ‘better’ life and get rid of this ‘bad addiction’.
As John Lennon once said, “We live in a world where we have to hide to make love, while violence is practiced in broad daylight”. So homosexual sex between two consenting adults is illegal while it is perfectly legal to rape your legally married wife. The SC doesn’t want to recognize marital rape as domestic violence because it contradicts with our traditions and culture. This is what happens when a bunch of patriarchal bigots sit on our heads and have the power to tell us what to do with our genitals. Maybe, we shouldn’t call them private parts anymore as we can see, there isn’t any privacy left. They want to control whom we love and with whom we have sex. Then, why call yourself a democracy, be open and upfront about it, say it out loud that we are turning into a regressive society and a monarchy. The minimum sentence for rape is seven years while for homosexual sex life imprisonment. This says a lot about our justice system. Maybe, all women and queer people should mass apply for asylum in more tolerant countries with better human rights. The SC has proved, India: no country for women and homosexuals.
The verdict has come as a shock and exploits the fundamental right to equality and freedom from discrimination, violence and harassment. But today’s verdict is not the last verdict on Section 377. There will be more unless and until the SC completely reads down and deletes Section 377 from the Indian Penal Code. The verdict is a huge setback for the entire LGBTQI community but it is not just a gay issue anymore. This has become an issue of violation of human rights and people will stand up to it, be it straight or queer. One positive thing that comes out of this verdict is that more and more people will support homosexuality now, they will turn up in large numbers and the queer community will grow even stronger.
Dear SC, we are queer and we are here to stay.