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India's apex court verdict decriminalising same-sex ties worth celebrating

Today’s landmark Supreme Court judgement in India to scrap Section 377 (of the Indian Penal Code) that made same-sex relations criminal is a great leap in social thinking.

Sep 6, 2018
Today’s landmark Supreme Court judgement in India to scrap Section 377 (of the Indian Penal Code) that made same-sex relations criminal is a great leap in social thinking. Many terracotta toys were excavated in the erstwhile Harappan civilization (2500 BC). Historians found out that few terracotta toys were “odd”. One of the toys, is human figure with both beard and bosoms. And another is a male-like looking figure breastfeeding a baby. This can be an evidence for the existence of transgenders in India from ancient ties. Shikhandi in Mahabharata, the most important epic in India, is also portrayed as a transgender. History of India has many such evidences in the form of- literature, paintings, architecture that represent the existence of genders other than male and female.
 
The verdict of the Supreme Court of India to strike down the ruthless British era law is worth celebrating. However, it is sad to realise that India took 71 years to strike down a law which contravenes its own fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. 
 
Not many South Asian countries, however, are open to the idea of same-sex marriage. But Nepal has been an exception. Nepal legalised and recognised LGBT rights in 2007.  Article 18 of Nepal's Constitution ensures equality and legal protection for sexual minorities. Article 42 ensures equal participation of sexual minorities in state structures on the basis of inclusion. But the ground situation is not as good as it appears to be in the Constitution. It is still a huge problem for the Nepali LGBT community to get jobs and have a decent life. The reason for this can be, to some extent, attributed to the influence of conservative Hinduism in Nepal so dominated by patriarchal politicians.
 
India also has witnessed a wave of right wing dominance. Many of these people refuse the acknowledge the existence of other genders. 
 
Anyhow, there is a need for government planning to make this verdict apply on the ground. Government must also include LGBT community under the minorities and provide affirmative measures for their development. The issue of social acceptance is quite a complicated one. Normalising the LGBT community's existence is one way. Text books must be changed and scientific explanation of sexual orientations must be included as a chapter to study at school level so that there is no social taboo in people's minds against the community. 
 
(The author is a member of Global Youth India, She can be contacted at vipanchikasahasri@gmail.com)

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