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Strange decision


The decriminalisation of homosexuality had been one of the few advances in jurisprudence in a country where the statute books are full of archaic laws. It was duly acknowledged by much of society as a necessary correction, requiring no further action by any party, even as it liberated ‘gay’ people from the fear of police interference in their lives. Through the judicial striking down of the criminal provision in the law, India had more or less conformed with what is considered the civilised approach to the issue worldwide, while at the same time not being required to justify the practice in any way. Quietly, India had its cake and was eating it, too. With this it would have been in line with the approach traditionally adopted in India over the millennia, allowing fringe activity its space, customs and lifestyle.
It is inexplicable, therefore, for the Government of India to contest the matter in the Supreme Court, claiming that it would affect the rights of children and that it caused AIDS. By taking this position, it has placed itself in the corner with the most radical of the religious fundamentalists worldwide. It is only a step away to claim that the presence of homosexuals would bring down pestilence and plague on the country.
Even as Victorian morality has disappeared entirely from the land of its birth, it remains deeply embedded in India’s legal structure, creating many anomalies that come in the way of good and effective governance. The law on homosexuality is only one such. In many ways, Macaulay’s stated purpose of occupying the Indian psyche in a way that would eventually lead to total conversion seems to have succeeded. Amazingly, the conservatives in Indian society have actually come to believe that this morality is historically Indian! This clearly indicates how deeply subverted is India’s academic curriculum, all the way from school to college; and this is not because there has not been adequate scholarship into India’s extraordinary and diverse expression of sexuality of all kinds in the scriptures and culture – too many to be mentioned here.
The subject of sex, itself, is such a taboo in public discourse, that it is not surprising homosexuality remains even more in the shadows of the consciousness. One wonders what constituency the Government thinks it represents when it adopts such a retrogressive stance in the Supreme Court. With a large number of Indians under the age of thirty, moral codes have already gone well beyond the ‘missionary position’ (every pun intended). Young people are least concerned about people’s personal preferences. Indeed, there is so much more to be concerned about, including the hypocrisy of the porn viewing legislators.
Those who do not approve of homosexuality need to understand that there is a huge distance between the disapproval and persecution of gay people. To argue that homosexuality would lead to victimisation of children is like saying the existence of sex is responsible for rape, hence should be banned. Children have to be protected in many ways, and equally from the same sex or heterosexual predator. The matter should not be confused with people’s personal preferences. India, in fact, has historically recognised what the West has yet to do – that much of homosexual activity is rarely that, and is more bisexuality, pushing the envelope as it were.
It is also a fact that homophobia is often the result of suppressed homosexuality. Often, this is expressed in violence towards gay people – some psychologists would say it is a substitute to having sex, something that inadequate people adopt in heterosexual relationships by battering their wives. It is not surprising that a large number of those who so strongly oppose homosexuality come from monastic and misogynistic backgrounds. Homosexuals are often attacked by same sex groups that are strongly bonded together, be they street gangs or priesthoods of several kinds! Ironically, this is far more deviant or ‘unnatural’ than homosexuality could ever be.