The news has spread and has even reached the barbers of our streets. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code has been declared as unconstitutional and subsequently has been read down.
This landmark judgement by the Supreme Court of India essentially decriminalises, specifically, consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex. Yes, just that. Translated to simpler terms, it means “Having sex with a consenting same-sex partner is not a crime anymore.”
But in no way does this judgement end the struggles of the queer community. And for the Straights™ wondering what it’s all about, here are a few pointers:
1: The judgement only relates to sexual behaviour, and thus only affects those with non-heterosexual orientations ( which form only a part of the diverse queer community), which also includes those under the trans umbrella and those with non-heteronormative romantic attraction.
2: Even for this portion of ‘gays and lesbians’ (as they are largely known), only their sexual rights have been awarded. They still have no civil rights whatsoever. This may refer to their right to own property, to get married, or to adopt kids—which has so far been reserved for straight people.
3: Despite ruling that any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a violation of the Indian Constitution, there is no clear instruction of its implementation and execution in real life situations, except for an initial direction to the Government of India to take all measures to properly broadcast the fact that homosexuality is not a criminal offence, to create public awareness and eliminate the stigma members of the LGBT community face, and to give the police force periodic training to sensitise them about the issue.
4: Even today, gay and bisexual men are not permitted to donate blood (as it is considered ‘impure’, there is a permanent ban on this, according to high government officials), neither are they allowed to serve in the military.
Congratulating any queer person on the verdict, without educating oneself about any of the queer issues, is simply being pretentious.
If you’re one of those straight, cisgender allies who refuses to acknowledge, understand, care about or address queer issues regularly save one day when it’s viral; one of those who won’t show up at any protest save Pride parades; one of those who bullied effeminate boys, masculine girls and androgynous kids in elementary school, middle school and high school; if you’re one of those people who now feel the need to rid yourself of the built-up guilt by texting a meek ‘congrats bro!’ to that victim by half reading a news headline, you’re onlytrying to mend your own image in your eyes.
People like this tend to be the ones who would freak out when they see a same-sex couple holding hands in public; those who would continue to push sexual identity linked pejoratives, and yet have the audacity to text a “congrats bro” to a clearly transfemme, asexual individual who actually benefits in no way from this judgement. This is because they never would care to find out anything out queer people. They only want to tell their other hetero buddies how nice and celebratory they were when this news reached them. To them, queer individuals are nothing more than a brunch conversation—a way to feel good about themselves and their’ good deeds’, or worse, their good ‘luck’, for being born straight.
They are no allies. They are here to receive a pat on their back and brownie points of being a ‘nice, decent human’ who cares about human rights only when NDTV broadcasts it.
To summarise, even as someone who is directly unaffected by this judgment, I acknowledge it is a stepping stone towards the overall goal of ‘human rights for all humans’, and that the legal change will have a serious blow on the general trend and behaviour towards homosexuality, asexuality or bisexuality; however, we must not forget, even for a moment, that this is just a stepping stone, and despite this all, those who seek to help, yet have never experienced an ounce of life as a member of the community, will sadly neither understand the struggle, nor will they try to empathise. All they will do is sympathise when we’re low and enthusiastically shake our hands when we win. So, a sincere request to all of you ‘allies’: if you don’t get it, don’t burden yourself, and don’t bother us. We would rather have you ignorant and unaffected than have you pop up only when we win our own battles ourselves.