In 2008 I wrote for then popular collaborative blog, Desicritics.org, that the only way for LGBT community to assert their identity and gain recognition is by coming out in large number, show their strength. In July 2009 in an historic judgment Delhi High Court struck down Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, known as the anti gay law, and for first time recognized homosexual rights. However, on appeal, in 2013 the Supreme Court once again criminalized the Section. One of the reasons given by Supreme Court was that the LGBT community is a “minuscule minority”. In Aug 2017 Supreme Court recognized the right to privacy as a fundamental right and in that judgement, they also mentioned that the order on Section 377 was wrong. This gave new hopes to the LGBT community, and as few Delhi based activists filed a fresh petition, on Monday, Supreme Court agreed to reopen the issue.
We seem to have come a full circle and my 2008 piece is relevant today, ever more than before. It is time to stand up stand tall and show the world that you are not a miniscule minority. I reproduce my 2008 piece here.
26th June 2008
Some time back I was invited by Bangalore based FM Radio Indigo, to talk about one of the Blogging initiatives I was engaged in. Before the show started, I was chit chatting with the RJ and casually mentioned the word alternate sexuality. She immediately shook her head in serious negation conveying me that I shouldn’t talk about it on the show. And I didn’t because the context never came.
Nonetheless, I could never stop frowning upon the shallowness of the matter. ‘Normal’ people under ‘normal’ circumstances cannot talk about Sex, more particularly if it is not heterosexuality. It’s a sad state of affairs but there is little we can do.
That is unless the society gets to see an upsurge of people calling themselves gay / lesbian / transgendered / transexual or simply put NOT heterosexual. Only if the number of people calling themselves queer is large enough and the faces known enough will the society realize it is not something so unnatural after all. And this responsibility lies with the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) people themselves to come out of their closet and be confident of their sexuality. It’s time to stand up and stand tall.
I see no reason why an educated person in a free society, who is independent financially and otherwise, and is aware of his/her rights, should shy away or feel guilty about his sexuality. I think enough have been said and written about LGBT rights already and its high time they start asserting their rights. You can’t seek respect from others unless you respect yourself and respecting yourself would mean being comfortable with your sexuality.
Young queer people in India should gain courage and confidence from Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil. Prince Manavendra has set an excellent example by coming out with his homosexuality. Being part of the Royal family in Gujarat one can guess how difficult it must have been for him to come out. He initially tried to hide it for many years and had to marry a woman like many Indian gay men do, today he admits he made a terrible mistake. Things have not been easy for him, he was disowned by his parents and the royal name in 2006 when he came out, but now he is reunited with them and is loved and respected by all. Taking lessons from his own life he is now engaged in a lot of social activity for the sexual minorities.
Prince Manavendra is also going to make the nation proud by being one of the three opening speakers at the forthcoming EuroPride 2008 in Stockholm.
Jonah Nylund, President of Stockholm Pride said, “We have chosen Manvendra Singh Gohil because he can give EuroPride visitors an image of the situation for LGBT people in other parts of the world”
Responsibility also lies with the mainstream media today to provide more respectable visibility to queer people. Achievements such as that of Prince Manavendra must be reported as a national achievement thus giving confidence to the queer citizen of the country.
Last time another such person made queer activists in India proud was Zoltan Parag by participating in the Mr. Gay International contest. This news should have got enough coverage in the mainstream media but they are politically too weak to call a spade, spade. That said, I find it surprising that Zoltan is concerned that the media has exposed him too much.
“Indian media has exposed me so much that now when I call my friends back home, their parents do not let them talk to me.” Said Zoltan.
Source: Hindustan Times
My question, why should he be bothered about how is he looked upon by the heteronormative parents of his friends? No one said it is going to be easy, but you’d have to face it and fight it now instead of being scared.
Its a popular rumour in Bollywood that Mr. Karan Johar is gay. His films also happen to have placed gay characters into the mainstream. Now if he himself is indeed gay I think he should just come out with it.
The taboos, illusions and ridicule about homosexuality would only end when famous and popular faces would declare themselves as queers. There still has been some progress with gay men, but there isn’t a single lesbian celebrity in the country. Rumour has it that Rekha is a lesbian, if she is, she should assert it.
Tehelka here has put in a list of cases where doctors try to cure homosexuality by shock therapy. Such disgusting ideas has to come to an end and it would only happen when more queer people would speak and more voices would be heard.
Some people are also scared to come out because of a common fear in India about homosexuality being illegal. As unconstitutional and unjust this law is, one still needs to understand homosexuality per se is NOT illegal according to this law. An act of ‘carnal intercourse against order of nature’ is illegal. By this definition anal intercourse even between heterosexual man and woman would be illegal, however the police of the country has ever since its inception only harassed gay couples, male sex workers using this law. But a fear shouldn’t come in the way of asserting human rights.
To sum up my point, I’d quote what senior lawyer Anand Grover, of the Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS unit, said while addressing an issue of unsuspecting gay men / tourist being mugged and blackmailed by showing them the fear of an arrest u/s 377 of IPC:
“Blackmailers succeed simply because these gay men are too closeted to fight back. It’s this desire for secrecy and fear of being ousted that leaves gays open to grave security risks. The answer is to be more open as you can’t be arrested on the basis of your sexual orientation. Beyond that, there’s little refuge in law unless Section 377 is amended.”