Tuesday, September 25, 2018
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At last! de-criminalising homosexuality
By Pallavi Sareen
Where political atmosphere has created an oppressive environment for freedom of thought, expression, individuality and ideology in the country, the judiciary has shown the light at the end of the tunnel for the sexual minorities in India. Scrapping away parts of the draconian law that has been part of the Indian penal code since 1861 and had put a criminal tag on anyone committing sexual acts that were earlier considered 'out of the order of nature', the Supreme Court Verdict has decriminalized homosexual relations.

The fight against Section 377 of IPC has been long and hard with many arguments in favour of it and against it. But with the way a unanimous decision was taken, extending words of support to the LGBTQ community, it should be seen as a historically significant step towards human rights.

It was the need of the 21st century to burst the bubble of the major myths about homosexuality and the usual arguments against it. No, it is not unnatural. And how does being 'natural' or 'unnatural' ever make something good or bad? A man goes against natural instincts every day in his life. By the definition of natural 'existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by humankind', even my mobile phone is not natural. Should it be criminalized?

The very essence of nature is observed in animals and homosexuality has prevailed in animals for a long time. When considered from the viewpoint of religion or society, both are becoming more and more accepting of homosexuals. There have been references of homosexuality in Hindu mythologies and they have always looked at third gender as pious and something very natural. The Hindu Council of UK also accepted that nowhere in Hindu scripts has homosexuality ever been referred to as unnatural. In Islam which believes homosexuality to be a mental disease, more liberal groups have emerged with their progressive thinking.

In a country where diversity is celebrated and people from different religions, ethnicities etc. live together, it is a shame that this law which discriminated against people for their sexual orientation and branded the expression of love for a same-sex person as a crime prevailed for more than a century.

While homosexuality was declassified as a mental disease by the American Psychological Association in 1973 and furthermore by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1990, even now majoritarian belief is that of a false-hood. The real problems, however, that exist for homosexuals is the demeaning treatment by their own loved ones, neighbours and society because of the stereotyped belief system. It is the number of people from the LGBTQ community who don't get themselves tested for HIV for the fear of being humiliated, tortured and brutalized. It is the repression of a pure and rightful expression of love for a person if he/she is of the same gender.

The Supreme Court verdict is heartening and a load off the chests of people who belong to the LGBTQ community and the people who have been fighting for their rights whether or not they identify themselves as LGBTQ. What is needed now is a liberal and modern approach by the people of this country in accepting the verdict and hopefully, the next step would be same-sex marriages.

News Updated at : Sunday, September 9, 2018
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