By Harshit Agarwal:
The day I realised that my love is seen as a crime, is the day I realised that there is a need to fight back.
Yes, I am an Indian gay man whose love is a crime according to contemporary law. I never imagined that one day my own country will treat me as a criminal. I never thought that I would be imprisoned for just being who I am. I never knew that my own parents will throw me out of their life for not being a ‘normal’ child. I never knew that one day someone will call me disease. I never knew that my love will be considered to be ‘against Indian ethos’. I never knew that one day my dear ones will be ashamed of me. But what I know is that I am not ashamed of myself and I am proud to be gay.
There are certain misconceptions about homosexuality. People often think that it is a ‘choice’ and that one can ‘change’ it. I want to ask them: why would one choose to be queer in such a homophobic society? People also think that it can be ‘cured’ when it is not even a disease or an illness. Others argue that it is ‘against Indian culture’, but since ancient times, we have been celebrating gender and sexual fluidity, thanks to numerous stories on the theme of queerness.
Section 377 has the worst impact on us because it is used as a tool to discriminate against us. We are blackmailed, bullied, harassed and some of us also commit suicide. I don’t understand why we have been carrying this draconian law for more than 150 years now. We may have attained political freedom but our minds are still colonised. According to a World Bank report, homophobia costs India an estimate of $31 billion annually. Still our Prime Minister, who wants India to grow, maintains a suffocating silence on the issue.
Neither the Supreme Court nor the Indian parliament wants to take the first step, instead, they just keep passing the ball to each other. It was very sad when the constitutional bench, in its 2013 judgement, said that the LGBTQ community is a ‘miniscule minority’ to claim there rights. Does this imply that minorities have no right in our country? We are not asking for any privileges, we just want basic human rights. One day we will get them and that day is not far off.
But until that happens, I am appealing to everyone to please write letters to Indian lawmakers to amend Section 377, one letter can change the lives of millions.