To(377)B or not to be

This post was originally written by me for a group blog I co-own named The Jalebi Chronicles.Check it out, it has some really good stuff.

Over the past few months, we have witnessed uproar due to the shocking judgement passed by the Honourable Supreme Court of India a little more than a month ago. I am referring to the black day of 11th December, 2013 when in a move that shocked the nation and the world at large, a division bench headed by the now retired Justice Singhvi decided to overrule a Delhi High Court judgement that had struck down section 377B of the Indian Penal Code which reads:

“Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.”

In essence, it was a section inserted to soothe the attitude of an archaic society that has long since ceased to exist in 19th century itself, in an age and time when the concepts of right and wrong were a farfetched dream for the citizens of any colonised nation. Let’s return to modern day India. Courtesy some liberal judicial interpretations of the constitutionally sanctioned Fundamental Rights, we have numerous rights (rights which are not stated explicitly in the Constitution but are more inferred,) including the right to privacy. What section 377 B means is an absolute invasion of that right. Going by the logic of the section, if two people have consensual sex against the ‘order of nature’ in a private room and someone peers through the keyhole and lodges a complaint, they’ll be arrested. The state, in its moral stride has essentially decreed that all sexual acts except consensual peno-vaginal sex between two adults is illegal.

If we are to analyze the judgment, some factors stand out. One of the reasons offered by the Supreme Court to uphold section 377 B’s constitutional validity is that it targets acts rather than people, and thus is uniformly applicable to all citizens. What they fail to recognize here is that these “acts” which they seek to criminalize are inexorably linked to the sexuality of the LGBT community, whose rights are clearly being violated by the same logic. But again, a disgusting choice of words is seen in paragraph 52 of the judgment, which reads, “In its anxiety to protect the so-called rights of LGBT persons…” The degrading of the community and its rights just because of its existence as a minority is shocking. Furthermore, the court also maintains that the insertion of the section forming the basis of harassment and blackmail only warrants for an amendment to the law by the legislature and does not make the section ultra vires. To cap it off, the judgment laid forth a political challenge of sorts when it suggested that an alternative could be an act by the legislature to delete the section in contention.

I refuse to dwell on the ramifications that this decision will hold for the future of politics in our country. All I will say is that I am shocked; shocked and disappointed. The upholder of the nation’s fundamental rights has failed the nation. In an ironic maneuver, a judgment has turned citizens into criminals. Protest all you will, but the truth of the matter is this: at the bottom of all our hearts, we will be left with just one painful thought, and this will be the collective ideology of us all: “On 11th December 2013, the Indian Judiciary failed its duties and principles. It failed its philosophy… It failed you and me. But above all, it failed itself.

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The Reality Of The Queer Prejudice-A QnA with Harish Iyer

India is emerging as a nation.But unfortunately,our mentality,our society and the guarantee of freedom and human rights has fallen behind the pace.Although,judicially, the 2010 judgement was a landmark, but our minds have not broken past all of it.In a frank one to one,Harish Iyer, an openly gay person and queer community activist tells us his views.

1.There a lot of misconceptions about the current legal rights of the Queer community. What’s the ground reality?

Section 377 of the indian penal code criminalised carnal intercourse between two individuals that was against the order of nature. This was quite ambiguous as “order of nature” could be interpreted in different ways.

This law was used against homosexuals as they practice oral and anal sex. The view was that sex against the law of nature was prohibited any sex that’s non-procreative could be unnatural. Which is totally untrue.The Delhi high court read down section 377 saying that any sex between two consenting adult individuals in private is not unlawful. The key words are ‘consensual’, ‘private’ and ‘adult’. It basically goes on to say that the state or the law has nothing to do with what two adults willingly do in their bedrooms.
Now the big doubt was – is section 377 only read down in Delhi. Well, since it makes an amend in the IPC, it would be valid throughout india. So if there is a section 377 case in say Bombay, the delhi judgement can be quoted here. 
It was never illegal to love in India. The problem was with making love. 

2.I would be blind if I say the prejudice is over. You constantly receive bigoted emails and tweets. Your take on this?
Some people are curious about my sex life. I think I must be doing something really well at that, that it makes them so curious and jealous 🙂
Well, on a serious note, yes prejudice does exist, and its time to look at people eye-to-eye. Every single person who walks out of the closet, is an inspiration for another.
I feel we like to “excavate” things that are hidden. I have nothing to hide, they have nothing more to dig. 🙂

3.Acceptance in conservative societies,including ours, is next to impossible. Especially in the older generations.How do you spread awareness about homosexuality?

Who said acceptance is impossible. I am in India. I am out to everyone right from my Gangu bai and rickshaw driver to everyone at work. They might not come out in acceptance like a typical Karan Johar flick, but they do have latent acceptance. Or rather have complete disregard for my sexuality, which is good.

4.Beside being an icon to the Queer community,you’re an active social reformer. What’s your current and next project?

LGBTIQ rights is just one of the battles for equal human rights. I don’t know if I am an icon, I am but definitely someone who would not suffer in silence. Or for that matter watch something go wrong and be a silent bystander.
I act from my heart. And I don’t meticulously plan my causes. I erupt whenever there in crises. Presently I am doing my usual sessions with survivors of child sexual abuse.

5.If you were to write a paragraph about yourself, it would read….

The man who Dreams a new dream, for the old one is now a reality”

6.Something you simply can’t say no to

Facebook. (I’m a social media whore)
7.Someone you can’t say no to
Hardly anyone. If I have to say no, I will say no.

8.As an blogger, what role do you think blogs play in current social dynamics?

They help you think. They seed a thought in your mind that no book could. They are personal. And they have a personality. Blogs are thought-influencing. Blogs are humans too.

9.Lastly, an advice to our readers.

Tolerance is the word. You need not like me. But you need to learn to co exist with someone who is different.
Thoughts become things. So keep documenting your thoughts.
Born free – blog free.

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