By Divya Gupta:
Change has been and will always be a part of the society’s existence. Be it social attitudes, stereotypes, notions, mannerisms change is the rule of nature. And one thing which has changed in the recent past has been the attitudes of the people of Delhi (with particular reference) with regards sexuality and sexual orientation. Though the nation as a whole has seen tremendous alterations in the thought processes and attitudes of people, Delhi has been a pioneer in a sense. The third edition of the gay pride parade – the first after consensual homosexual relationships was decriminalized in the country – in the Capital on Sunday was an unusual display of confidence by the lesbian-gay bisexual-transgender (LGTB) community. It was a march of rainbow colored people celebrating their sexuality contrary to previous marches where they were fighting for the assertion of their rights.
Restoring the faith of innumerable people in the country’s judiciary, the high court in the Indian capital, Delhi, ruled that homosexual intercourse between consenting adults is not a criminal act on July 1st, 2009.
The ruling overturned a 148-year-old colonial law which described a same-sex relationship as an “unnatural offence”. Homosexual acts were punishable by a 10-year prison sentence.
Delhi’s High Court ruled that the law outlawing homosexual acts was discriminatory and a “violation of fundamental rights”.
The court said that a statute in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which defines homosexual acts as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and made them illegal, was an “antithesis of the right to equality”.
After fighting for 8 long years and two decades of LGBT activism, came what was perhaps the most inclusive step of the Indian judiciary ever.
But was the change easy to accept? The answer is negative. It wasn’t just about how easy it was to accept the change; it was the very question of acceptance in the first place. In a society like India where talking about sex is still a taboo in some places, homosexuality and the likes was an illicit thing. India’s society is generally unwelcoming of homosexuality except in the most cosmopolitan circles. It is not uncommon for gay men and women to marry heterosexuals and have families, while carrying on secret relationships with members of the same sex. The decision was condemned from many corners in India. “This is wrong,” said Maulana Abdul Khaliq Madrasi, a vice chancellor of Dar ul-Uloom, the main university for Islamic education in India. The decision to bring Western culture to India, he said, will “corrupt Indian boys and girls.”
The change is here for everyone to see. Gay pride parades in Indian cities last weekend attracted thousands of marchers, and several recent Bollywood movies, like “Dostana,” have included gay themes and characters, often played by Bollywood’s biggest heterosexual stars. Delhi’s youth is coming out both literally and metaphorically to show the entire nation and the world at large that we are capable of transforming and accepting sexual minorities.
Families came out to support their members and friends came to celebrate their friend’s success. This is also a very important step concerning the HIV-AIDS prevention.
The social stigma is certainly very difficult to break, but here’s the catch- we are beginning to break barriers and think out of the box. We are slowly but steadily learning to move away from the conventional norms to the contemporary ones. People still find it difficult to accept the reality of the sexuality of their children and relatives, but change is happening. It is never easy to handle changes but once we do, nothing can stop us from progressing towards a brighter and better future. Dilwalon ki Dilli has shown this to everyone in this hope that the rest of the nation will follow suit!
The writer is a Special Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz and also student of Psychology at Delhi University.