Who wouldn’t have experienced the unspoken beauty that the feeling of being in love brings with it? Sometimes, it is as strong as a storm and sometimes, as soothing as a breeze, and in each case, love is timeless and beyond the logic of right or wrong.
However, do all kinds of romantic relationships bring happiness only? Perhaps not, especially when there are unlimited social hurdles in the path of union of the soulmates. And, it turns even more painful when certain relationships are tagged as ‘against the law of nature’.
The question is, how can love be ‘against nature’, and who has set these rules? The logic is so obvious: just because two individuals belong to the same gender, they cannot be stopped from loving each other. For years, this was considered a legal offense in the USA until the historic decision of decriminalising same-sex marriages was passed on June 26, 2015, when Barack Obama was President. This was not an easy decision, considering how rampant homophobia is, but it had to happen someday.
Following their footsteps, on September 6, 2018, a historic judgment was made by India’s Apex Court, in which Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was decriminalised. The Supreme Court ruled that consensual sex between adults cannot be criminalised. This included the members of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community, who’ve been deemed as ‘taboo’ by society.
The verdict imbibed a sense of inclusiveness among members of the community who had been facing insecurity, seclusion and, to a certain extent, contempt and had been ‘living double lives’ by pretending to be heterosexual because of the constant fear of confrontation and discrimination.
Prior to this in 2014, the Supreme Court had passed the NALSA v. India judgment, according to which, transgender people should have legal recognition according to their gender identity and receive special benefits in the benefits education and employment.
Decriminalisation of the severe and toxic Section 377 of Indian Penal Code has marked an end of an era where this absurdly brutal law will no longer be able to violate human rights of a certain kind and will no longer foster and facilitate an atmosphere in which millions of people have faced discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Section 377, which had been a toxic part of British imperialistic legacy, 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.”
However, has this entitlement to legal rights brought about any change in the outlook of the Indian society? Can we now expect people, in same-sex relationships, to have a fairy-tale-like love story, that concludes with a ‘happily-ever-after’?
Well, the truth is not so pleasant and simple. Despite getting legal ‘approval’, we have a long way to go in order for same-sex relationships to obtain ‘social approval’. And, in this case, their own families also represent the society, which considers the sexual orientation of a family member to be a matter of shame.
Everywhere, people belonging to the LGBT community have been subject to brutal bullying and have even been attacked without any reason. In India, I think it is common to completely ‘ignore’ the existence of homosexuality and hence, acceptance is beyond question. The existence of homosexuality is simply not acknowledged. People tend to not understand homosexuality. This situation, I feel, has somewhat changed after many well-known people and celebrities came out of the veil of pretension.
One such person was famous Bengali director Rituparno Ghosh who initially kept everything concealed but then accepted his sexuality openly. Ghosh, despite being such a talented celebrity, had to bear the brunt of being open about sexual orientation.
It has also been said that Rituparno Ghosh was “paranoid and extremely cautious about his sexuality.” He was often afraid of reaching out to actors, especially in Bollywood who, he felt, would read a wrong signal.
Then it was ace athlete Dutee Chand who made the bold move of accepting her sexuality on national media, and, at the same time, expressed fear of intimidation by society and family. However, this step has encouraged sportspersons, and other prominent celebrities, to come up and speak out frankly on sexuality.