Justice Markandey Katju’s opinion piece in the Indian Express on September 11 claimed that decriminalising Section 377 of the IPC will not remove the social stigma around it. While I agree with Katju’s views, I think he too would agree that it is one of the most landmark decisions of the court. It is only now that members of the LGBTQ+ community, have gotten the ‘right to live’, as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. It is worth noting that a major part of the NALSA judgement has been realised through the judgment in the Navtej Singh Johar’s case. We all understand that sexual intercourse is an integral part of one’s life, and so, how were the rights of the transgenders and transexuals realised if they weren’t even allowed life’s basic pleasures?
The social stigma, which the Justice rightly points out, is now the next challenge that the activists and the community face. We must bring people from the community to the fore and show that they are as much human as anyone else. It is truly one uphill battle after another. But, if we have overcome one we can do so once more.
The liberals in America were ecstatic when Justice Kennedy delivered the two landmark judgements, but there was a powerful force in the opposition as well. It has not been easy for them either. There have been people like Kim Davis and others who have defied the judgement. Yet, the people there are in a much better position than us as they have far more effective forums of redressal. For Indians, however, the fight is much more severe. The Indian liberals face a much more onerous task. We must ourselves be accepting, and teach others to be too. It will take a lot of efforts to gain even the slightest of social equality.
Institutions of learning must take a stand on this. They should teach and train people in a way that the thinking is altered to understand that this is normal. The options of ‘Other’ apart from male and female, should be made compulsory. There should be gender neutral bathrooms. Teachers and professors should be trained to be more inclusive, and not just because there may be a child in their class who is from the community, but because they spearhead the shaping of young minds.
Bollywood, or the Indian film industry in general, should play a defining role in this regard. I hope they do. Moving away from the quirky, mindless cinema that comes out of the big and small production houses alike, there are a few exceptions, of course, the industry must use its mass reach to further the case of equality of the community.
It should be shown that ‘eunuchs’ is not a pejorative term. It is instead a community of people who must be respected. It must show that homosexuality is not ‘abnormal’. It is not a conscious choice they have made. This is who they are. They too are children of the same god.
I hope the youth of the country will agree with what I have to say, and also join me in taking this historic judgement further from the law recognising this equality to the people recognising this equality. And taking constitutional morality and making it the virtue of the people.