By Shraddha Sankhe:
“MSM (Men having Sex with Men) is unnatural and not good for India. It is a disease which has come to India from other countries where men have sex with men”—Ghulam Nabi Azad, India’s Union Health Minister.
In all probability, most of the youngsters will clearly feel agitated about Mr. Azad’s comments on what he calls “unnatural sex” among men. It is very easy to feel the anger, express it and somehow move on. Just as nobody really comes ahead with a charity or the like support for any cause unless a personal loss is entangled in the effort—this issue might just die away till the Breaking News flashes a new statement of somebody of the Minister’s stature. Perhaps if the Minister’s stature that reminds us that Men Having Sex with Men is not a disease, just a very narrow perspective. Oh, and the revered Minister has no qualifications to be/speak on Public Health and (read: personal) Sexuality issues other than his loyalty to the Congress alliance. Queer enough?
Such a sharp irony, Mr. Azad spilled venom just at a national convention on HIV and AIDS, a meeting that was supposed to have fostered compassion and created awareness about the virus. Earlier he had suggested that watching television would “educate” the masses enough about the HIV virus. But his post-Article 377 statement seems totally unapologetic. He clarified later that he had been “misquoted” and the “disease” was actually HIV he was referring to. That was very convenient, Sir.
Days after New York, United States legalized Gay Marriage; Twitter, the micro-blogging website was on a self-attuned happy brigade. And why not? If we demand liberal economies in a liberal world, we sure expect liberal sexuality too, right? Although New York was the sixth yet United States’ largest state to legalize gay marriage, it has infused life into the gay movements of the world. Obviously, it didn’t come too easily for the New Yorkers either. The last minute decision reversal by two Republican senators turned the magic wand in favor of the thousands of gay couples in New York state.
Quick flashback: Baba Ramdev made a statement in 2009 to the Supreme Court saying, “(Homosexuality) can be treated like any other congenital defect. Such tendencies can be treated by yoga, pranayam and other meditation techniques.” Isn’t that awesome? All we have to do is believe and lo! We’re no more “tied down by a queer sexuality”! WTF? Also read what Pope Benedict XVI declared, “Homosexuality is a destruction of God’s work”.
Coming back to India, it has been two good years after Article 377 was scrapped leading to decriminalization of homosexuality between consenting adults, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community by Delhi High Court. “A disease from Western countries” is apparently among the hilarious opinions coming from a Health Minister of a country with a civilization older than his perception of the West. Just note that we hold a grudge against the Manusmriti for introducing and worse, documenting the “rules” of the caste-system in India. The much in question non-epic is apparently responsible for punishments denounced towards “homosexual individuals”. Hey, so India WAS indeed homosexual, wasn’t it? Back then perhaps Science taught them Earth was flat. So they believed them. But now Science says otherwise. So we believe the neo-believers. Likewise, can we perhaps… just grow up in our sexual thinking, right Minister Sir?
A black neighbor is welcomed but not a black son-in-law. Similar harsh reality in India is honor killing – a practice we grew up witnessing in headlines and neighborhood. We’re young believers who ought to right the wrong. Perhaps an open mind comes with a global experience and this could well be a “Western influence”. Calling homosexuality a disease has been a foot-in-mouth moment for Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad. We must understand that his comments have led to antecedents of outrage in the national and international communities. And this outrage is what will goad true justice to the LGBT community in India. We do hope.
Shraddha is a Senior Editor of Youth Ki Awaaz, a blogger, podcaster, obsessive tweeter – student of MA at the Missouri School of Journalism, USA, a Smith-Patterson fellow and a passionate journalist. You can follow Shraddha on Twitter by clicking the Follow button below: