LGBTQ in India: The Sweet Smell Of Freedom, Pride, and Love

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After every rain comes the rainbow- a multicolored circular arc is drawn. It’s caused by reflection, refraction, and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. There’s an element of surprise with its every appearance. And associating with the colors of the rainbow are the LGBTQ groups and their activities.

As for the historical narrative in India goes, these ‘queer groups’ have been criminalized, treated as secondary citizens in their own country, used as ‘props’ for comic effect in mainstream movies and others. In short, they have been stripped off their identity, rights, and dignity and are a disgrace to the society. They are humiliated, exploited and followed by ostracization from families and peers. Belonging to orthodox familial settings cause persistent levels of depression or emotional trauma for unable to showcase their sexual orientation. The very idea of having or even developing feelings for same-sex gender leads to procrastination and sleepless nights of terror and trauma.

The Indian society considers such relationships as ‘not-normal,’ ‘strange’ and contributing to the moral degradation of the society. The self-proclaimed Gurus/ God-men assume that these individuals must be fixed through their techniques to ensure smooth functioning and reproduction in the community. It is extraordinary that in a country like India where the apex court had criminalized gay sex in 2014 has famous heritage monuments with sculptures depicting various sexual orientation such as Khajuraho and Konark Temples in Madhya Pradesh and Odisha respectively.

Furthermore, the struggle to be treated as equal as others had begun way back in 2007 when the Naz Foundation filed a PIL in the Delhi High Court seeking legalization of gay sex among consenting adults. And then the struggle began with the Judiciary and Centre concerning law, judgment and societal mindset. Even to that extent, the Centre back in September 2008 stated that gay sex is immoral and a reflection of a perverse mind and its decriminalization would lead to moral degradation of the society. The reference point for such narrow-minded through was religious texts and contradictory views of Home and Health ministries in the country. In short, an outright NO made every homosexual as a criminal and bound to be punished by the draconian and colonial law of Section 377 for his/her unnatural acts. Living with the fear of bullying, gender-shaming and being unfaithful to yourself about sexual orientation made life difficult and miserable. Until when the Supreme Court of India on 7th September 2018 passed a judgment decriminalized a section 377 of the Indian Penal Code wherein Same-sex relations are no longer a crime and no longer violates his/her identity, dignity, equality, and privacy. It was undoubtedly a moment of victory with slogans of Love Wins! Love is Love is Love and colorful celebrations across the public.

Interestingly, on social media, there were various posts on “came out of the closet today’, finally free and Independent’ blogs with a title like I am Gay and also Gay today and I am no longer a Criminal and many others. Every mouthpiece left one with tears of joy and sheer pride. One can also sense the amount of sweat and public scrutiny, cruelty, and hardships before being an accrued equal identity by the Judiciary. It was a long struggle to repeal a century-old draconian law that penalized gay sex. More such laws must be repealed, abolished or even amended to a great extent like the Sedition, Marital Rape and the list is endless.

The cumulative consciousness of the five-judge constitution bench comprising of Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra, Justices R F Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud, and Indu Malhotra has outworn religious scriptures/texts and majoritarian views determining the societal outlook. The judgment was in itself a sweet victory smell of Freedom, Pride, and Love for the LGBTQ supporters, activists, sensitized families, and groups. The persistent hard work in organizing pride walks in metropolitan cities ensured that pride colors were reflected in every corner of the concrete jungle we all live in. Till now, none of the political parties (Regional or national) have issued official statements and bytes to applaud the judgment, but then a couple of politicians have ‘twitted’ about it

Yes, it’s a victory for all, but then the critical question is- Will our society be able to adapt to changing sexual orientations? In India, there are increasing establishing of gated communities where the need of round-the-clock privacy and security is paramount with rectangle shaped boards not allowing young bachelors (Male or Female) or Paying Guests to reside in their premises. The Resident Welfare Association of most societies proclaims that they degrade the culture with loud music and careless attitude towards life. It affects the neighbor’s childhood upbringing, and it’s best to keep such irrational behavior at arm’s length.

Following which knowing that your next-door neighbor is not husband-wife couple instead a gay or lesbian may surely raise eyebrows. The very culture that we all take pride in is suddenly diminished with ‘strange individuals’ living within our vicinity and company. Accepting them as just like normal citizens or members of the family will take some time. But that doesn’t mean it will never happen- change is the only course of progression and updated with times. We need to start accepting different identities in our life and subsequently respect them. As everyone is equal before the law, no one is more than the other. We need to push forward for more reforms to ensure representatives of LGBTQ community are employed and not discriminated at any juncture of their lives.

Yes, the ball has set rolling especially with granting almost equal status to the LGBTQ individuals/groups/communities, all thanks to repealing a part of section 377 of IPC. The second most crucial reform or change of mindset is accepting an amalgamation of these individuals within our society. The very feeling of shame must be eliminated if one turns ‘out to be odd’ or different; being indifferent or non-discriminatory to other sexual orientation is the first step towards civilized humanity. Although most government forms have now the option of transgender in the place of Gender category, we need to ensure that just on the prima facie front we don’t eliminate someone for being homosexual on economic fronts. Furthermore, while legitimizing their identity in the public domain, we need to allow them to marry whoever they feel like. In the real sense will the phrase mean- Love is Love is Love!

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