India is a land of contrast. While its greatest war hero Arjun took refuge as a handmaiden in Mahabharat, while transgender are considered auspicious on joyous occasion and their blessings are sought, yet India keeps the LGBT as marginal in Indian society. It is in a state od denial, with godmen like Baba Ramdev suggesting that the queer are only ill, and can be cured with medication.
India needs to accept that sexual orientation is a personal choice, and demands equal rights and opportunities.
The criminal in this modern saga is Section 377 of IPC. It criminalises consensual sexual acts of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) adults in private, amounts to denial of their rights to privacy and dignity and results in gross miscarriage of justice.
But the problem is this was a Victorian ruling of 1861, that made homosexuality a criminal offence. We have moved miles away from that time. We are a world apart from those realities. Our reality is that is it easier for the gay to get room on rents than to marry, it is easier for them to have night overs than to come out to their parents.
Because of their different orientation, they are heckled in the society, they are denied equal chances, leaving them to paths of difficult survival at the margins. What is required is mainstreaming them, including them as one with the society.
The Right to Privacy is a historic decision in this regard. The ruling paves the way for discriminatory practices against LGBT people to be challenged in the courts.The Supreme Court’s judgement reads that “Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy.
“Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual. Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform.”
In 2009 the section was dismissed by the High Court of Delhi, but that verdict was overturned by the Supreme Court, which said it was the responsibility of Parliament, not the judiciary, to change the law.
Shabnam Mausi is the first transgender Indian or hijra to be elected to public office. She was an elected member of the Madhya Pradesh State Legislative Assembly from 1998 to 2003. ManabiBandopadhyay became India’s first transgender college principal in 2015. Transgenders are being offered regular jobs. With LGBT increasingly being included in ordinary life, law too needs to recognise that they are no different.
Leo Varadkar, who came out as gay and may be Ireland’s next leader, and Apple CEO Tim Cook, both are excellent in their work. This just shows that the LGBT can be mainstreamed. Their sexual orientation has nothing to do with their calibre.
(Image credits: amazonaws)
The Indian law needs to rise above petty differences, and acknowledge that sexual orientation is a private concern, not for the state to regulate.