The historic judgment on June 26 2015, turned The United States of America, the 23rd country in the world to legalise same sex marriage. The last three decades of Indian media, however, has covered bans, suicides, violence and more violence against the gay community of India. This community that is still treated as an ‘outcast’ and a bait of cheap humor in Bollywood movies.
The 150 year old archaic Section 377 was discarded by the Delhi High Court but Supreme Court once again validated it. Bringing the whole nation back to the debate of gay rights and its dubious status quo. This whole movement of legalising same sex marriage is considered a very Western phenomena and a bad influence on Indian culture. However, as much as it infuriates the loyal religious clan who think it is against the ‘order of nature’ to be gay, well, sorry to break your bubble of denial – HOMOSEXUALITY is not a sudden fantasy that grows in your veins while you sip morning coffee. It is a lifestyle, a desire, a preference, a choice and it has always been a part of Indian culture.
Indian mythology has very elaborately depicted stories of alternate sexual choices, or transformation of men into women and vice-versa. When Krishna was busy with his playful raas-leela, Shiva bathed in the Yamuna and became a gopi so that he can participate in raas-leela with Krishna.
Another such tale is from the Mahabharata, when the great archer Arjun is cursed by Urvashi after he rejects the advances made by her. She curses him to become a eunuch for the rest of his life, which later, on the request of Indra, was changed to 1 year, to be lived by Arjun in the 13th year of Pandava exile.
Homosexuality always found place in ancient Indian scriptures, great literary work and even sculptures. But today, homophobia broods like viral fever. It has plagued the world into a myriad of apprehensions. While there are some who have accepted homosexuality graciously, there are many who are yet to catch up.
Why? Well, why not?
Why should same sex marriage be allowed in India? Well, because we allow a fundamental right to life. And it can’t be “cured” or treated as some sort of “mental illness”. One of the main problems with gay rights in India, is the inability to provide space for holding an intellectual debate on it. The issue of homosexuality is always perceived either through a religious perspective or a moral perspective. But what it actually needs is a RATIONAL PERSPECTIVE. Unfortunately, this is the case with everything in India – women’s rights, Dalit empowerment, child abuse, inter-caste marriages etc. Name any one pertinent issue that passes its day without humiliation. Hmmm….NONE!
The LGBT community in India suffers a great deal of human rights abuse and discrimination by both society and the state. While illegal detention and physical abuse by the police is not unheard of; discrimination in schools, work place and in public is also very common. According to a UN report, even though cases of murders have decreased in India, hate crimes like “corrective rape” have increased significantly in the past few years.
- In 2005, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, Gujarat, publicly came out as gay. He became the first Indian from royal family to come out as gay.
- On 29 June 2008, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Indore and Pondicherry celebrated their first gay pride parades with a turn out of 2,000 people.
- 16 August 2008, Mumbai held its first pride march.
- 16 April 2009, India’s first gay magazine Bombay Dost (originally launched in 1990) was re-launched by Celina Jaitley in Mumbai.
- On 27 June 2009, Bhubaneswar, saw its first gay pride parade.
- On 28 June 2009, Chennai, held its first first pride parade.
- On 1 May 2011, Kolkata Rainbow Pride Festival (KRPF) was formed.
- 15 March 2013, Chandigarh held its first LGBT pride parade.
- 1 March 2015, Rajasthan witnessed its first pride event.
Human evolution is only possible when there is allowance for a ‘social evolution’. Sensitive issues like same sex marriage cannot just rely upon individual interpretation. Or moral judgments and religious punishments. We need to step out of our secluded silos and learn to assimilate. There is nothing wrong about what you are and who you love. To all those hearts out there, don’t fret, for we all know – “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
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