The Supreme Court has delivered a verdict, one that legitimizes the rights of a significant section of the country’s population. It would be redundant to state Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code as the debate surrounding this archaic section of the Constitution, promulgated during the British Colonial period and has long since been decriminalized in the motherland of those who introduced it, has been in the news, but for those unaware of the issue, it 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 a landmark judgement, one that modern India desperately needed (and deserved), the Supreme Court overturned its earlier verdict that homosexuality be considered a punishable offence.
This is it, then, or is it? Members of the LGBTQ community must be happy that their right to love is deemed legitimate, right? Wrong! *Scrunches up face and extends index finger in attempted imitation of a certain orange-faced gentleman*
Decriminalization of 377 is just the beginning and much has to be done in changing the mindsets of people and making them aware that there are individuals whose identities differ from those embraced in today’s mainstream society and that everyone deserves equal respect, regardless of their orientation. In our country, it is considered a mental illness and a few self-proclaimed spirituality and wellness gurus even go as far as claiming to be able to cure it.
Words such as ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ are playground insults, casually thrown around by teens. In addition, they are used to describe an unsatisfactory state of things. Being homosexual isn’t a choice one makes, it’s a state of being. Considering those words as insults would make as much sense as laughing at someone because they have, say, black hair or blue eyes. Well, if you are a homophobic heterosexual who is grappling to understand, imagine a society where homosexuality is the norm and you were forced into the closet.
People bring up a host of pointless arguments on how gay or lesbian couples could raise children. Well, they may consider adoption, or they may choose to have children through surrogacy or sperm donations, all of which are legal. (Ever wondered about Karan Johar’s kids? Just Google it, would you?) Who cares if a child has a mom-dad, mom-mom or dad-dad combination of parents, as long as they are provided with a happy and healthy environment to grow up in, right? Right! *Orange-faced gentleman can learn this from me*
Coming out of the closet may not be easy. Inter-faith relationships were never a criminal offence, yet have severe repercussions and something like same-sex relationships will take a long time to lose the stigma attached. Decriminalization is the first progressive step in acknowledging and normalizing the rights of those forced into secrecy and attempting to dictate gender boundaries for love could only be done by rewiring people’s brains (read impossible). Insulting someone on the basis of their orientation (or anything else they have no control over) is, strictly speaking, a violation of human rights, as everyone is entitled to a dignified life.