FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
How the law hasnít kept pace with social acceptance of homosexuality
Updated:Jul 4, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
India criminalises homosexuality; sexual intercourse between two consenting adults of the same sex is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or heavy fines. LGBT people are largely marginalised and discriminated against in terms of employment and opportunity. While India seems regressive and backward, individual families (like my own) provide a beacon of hope with progressive attitudes and acceptance of gay people. While the state still tries to set up clinics to ‘cure’ homosexuality, my family has accepted my gay aunt and this acceptance reflects a major attitude shift that was nearly unthinkable 10 years ago.
 
The change seen in the Indian mentality about LGBT people is hard to notice and even harder to catalyse, because it’s happening behind closed doors within families and small communities. While a portion of India is still opposed to homosexuality and are in favour of its criminalisation, there are progressive pockets that fight to allow members of the LGBT community to be accepted and respected members of society. The legal attitude towards LGBT rights is at odds with the social attitude, but perhaps this is what is needed to reform the country’s anti LGBT laws.
 
Over the past two decades, the clear trend of regression of laws and rejection of LGBT people by the courts stands in stark contrast to my family’s gradual acceptance of my aunt’s sexual orientation.
 
In 2009, the Indian government repealed Section 377 of the Indian penal code that criminalised sexual activity between same sex adults. The entire country rejoiced, and all the liberals thought that India was finally becoming more progressive. At the same time, my aunt came out to my entire family. After the initial shock, her parents responded by saying that while they want her to be happy, they would not visit her home in Boston anymore. They ‘accepted’ it, but this still meant that they wanted to keep the younger members of the family in the dark.
 
In 2013, Section 377 was reinstated and homosexuality was once again a criminal offence. Everyone was shocked that the extreme religious groups had won and actually succeeded in persuading the court that homosexual intercourse was unnatural and religious verses forbade it. Simultaneously, four years after the ‘big reveal,’ my grandparents had become more understanding and lifted their self-imposed travel ban. They even agreed to go on vacation with my aunt and her girlfriend – as long as it was not in India. My aunt’s siblings were completely accepting of her orientation and supported her throughout.
 
In 2015, Leo Varadkar, the then minister of health in Ireland and the son of an Indian doctor, came out as homosexual and claimed his orientation was part of his character. Indians take his success in the Ireland government as a personal one, and are excited to see a man of Indian origin be open about his sexuality and not be penalised for it. At the same time in 2015, an Indian politician in Goa moved to make medical clinics for gay people to rid them of the apparent disease of homosexuality. In 2015, my parents and sister, grandparents, aunt and her girlfriend went to Spain for a vacation. My 76-year-old grandparents took a couple of days to warm up to Claudia but overcame their reservations and eventually ended up having a spice eating competition to prove that Indians could eat spicier food than Italians.
 
This year, 2017, no legal progress has been made in the courts of India. The same bills and petitions to decriminalise homosexuality routinely get rejected from the parliament, activists and a handful of forward thinking politicians remain disappointed in their quest to allow LGBT people basic rights. But on the other hand, my aunt and Claudia went to Bombay for a two-week vacation and were shown off and flaunted in front of all my grandparents’ rummy and kitty friends, as their daughter and proudly – her girlfriend.
Progress may not necessarily be made one law at a time, maybe it’s made one family at a time.
 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Ties between India and Japan are probably at their best ever, Japanese Ambassador to India H.E. Kenji Hiramatsu told India Review & Analysis’ Nilova Roy Chaudhury, as he outlined how the two countries have moved closer. Ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit
 
read-more
India's External Affairs Minister met with Prime Ministers Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh and Tshering Tobgay of Bhutan and five foreign ministers on September 19 in interactions that mostly focused on bilateral issues.
 
read-more
That regional cooperation in South Asia is lower than optimal levels is well accepted. It is usually ascribed to – the asymmetry in size between India and the rest, conflicts and historical political tensions, a trust deficit, limited transport connectivity, and onerous logistics, among many other factors.
 
read-more
Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan said ‘In order to become a more developed country, India has to get people who owe taxes to actually pay them.’ This is one of the major objectives that Modi sought to achieve though demonetization and he has largely succeeded.
 
read-more
The two-day visit to Kashmir by a Congress team headed by Dr Manmohan Singh team has called for restoration  of the dialogue with the separatists to address the ongoing turmoil in the state.
 
read-more
The Communist Party of China (CPC) is expected to amend its constitution at the upcoming national congress.
 
read-more
Médecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders has urged Myanmar to grant international humanitarian organisations unrestricted and independent access to the conflict-torn Rakhine state to enable provision of humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people.
 
read-more
In an unprecedented warning delivered at a world forum, United States President Donald Trump on September 19 threatened North Korea with total destruction if his country is forced to defend itself and its allies against the threats from Pyongyang.
 
read-more
It is a privilege to be invited to this most prestigious of law schools in the country, more so for someone not formally lettered in the discipline of law. I thank the Director and the faculty for this honour.
 
read-more
Column-image

Title: A Bonsai Tree; Author: Narendra Luther; Publisher: Niyogi Books; Pages: 227 Many books have been written on India's partition but here is a firsthand account of the horror by a migrant from what is now Pakistan, who ...

 
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
Column-image

This is the continuing amazing spiritual journey of a Muslim man from Kerala who plunged into Vedic religion after a chance encounter with a Hindu mystic under a jackfruit tree in the backyard of his house when he was just nine. It is a story w...

 
Column-image

History is told by the victors but in our modern age, even contemporary events get - or are given - a slant, where some contributors soon get eclipsed from the narrative or their images tarnished.

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive