As I look back at the last one week in India , I am both incredibly proud of what we have accomplished as a country – and incredibly sad and angry at how much is left to be done to bring India socially forward from 1800s to 2013 .
Let me get the awful stuff off my chest first . Supreme Court ruled that consensual sex is criminal , if the parties involve are of the same gender . Essentially they upheld a law that was made in mid 1800s under British rule and over turned the high court verdict that decriminalized this . Supreme Court took a very narrow view of the matter – essentially , they kicked it to the legislature to amend the law .
India is a free country – so why does the government think it is constitutional to get into the sex life of its citizens ? Essentially this law also negates the possibility of gay marriages . It is a gross violation of citizens’ fundamental rights for government to decide who they can have consensual sex with and who they can marry . Life imprisonment apparently is the punishment for gay sex. I can’t believe we have to deal with this in 2013 .
Congress party has made its stance clear that they oppose the judgment . BJP seems to be in support of the judgment – which is not a surprise given the party has limited secular credentials . Not sure where AAP stands on this . But essentially – this means the legislative route will take a while since there is no broad base support to pass legislation smoothly . There are legal options the government can file – including a curative petition . I hope they do that quickly .
I am rudely surprised I did not see the President and Prime minister of India making a comment on this SC verdict .
What was most appalling for me was the reaction I saw in Social media . People who should know better came out in BIG support of the Supreme Court ruling . Broadly their argument was
1. It is unnatural and god doesn’t approve
2. Only a minority of people are gay and rules should not be bent for their benefit
How do these people get to judge what god likes or doesn’t like ? Why didn’t the rest of us get that memo ? India has a clear distinction between church and state – so why is religion even brought into this discussion ? And why is there no similar extreme outrage when people cheat in their marriage and sleep around with others ?
Also – if minority rights don’t matter , why are politicians dead worried about religious minorities at election time ? Would they stop having reservations for education , jobs etc based on religion and caste ? Clearly the answer is NO . So why is being a minority being used against only gay people ? Gay people have all the same responsibilities in India as other citizens – so why should they alone have less rights ?
I got so worked up seeing the social media conversations that I unfollowed and unfriended a bunch of people . I cannot believe these folks could stoop to such a low level .
Political parties have a lot to answer for – this arcane law has been around for ages . When the HC overturned the law – and the appeal went to SC, why didn’t the government start a parallel legislative effort to erase this from the law books ? Clearly they are worried about how the voters will react in next election . So they tried to play it safe and thought they can leave this alone for judiciary to deal with . Judiciary inexplicably issued this terrible judgment as a result .
This is just a reflection of the larger social outlook in India . Being gay is still not a socially accepted thing in India – large part of the population still think it is a sin of some sort , and they react in terrible ways . The way to change this is only via education – over a long period of time . But in the short term – there is no excuse for not pursuing legal and legislative options right away .
Please don’t forget – Gay people are people too ! Live and let live