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Open letter to Justice Katju – Happy New Year and Get Well Soon !

1st Jan’ 2015

Dear Justice  Makrand Katju

Greetings !!

Your recent post on Gay and Lesbian Relationships (LGBT) ,    created a lot of ruckus,    as you tweeted , sadly ,               you were called a homophobic also, and then your CLARIFICATION further aggravated the ire. I am writing to you, as to why it happened . Why were you labeled homophobe, Sexist and   misogynist

According to you, homosexuality is a  ‘unnatural ‘and “modern” phenomenon and must be ‘cured’ to give way to reproductive heterosexuality.In your opinion, at the heart of heterosexual bonding, companionship, love, lies procreative sex and the desire to keep the human race going. Therefore, you question , “Will a gay relationship or marriage serve nature’s requirement of continuing the species?”

So what is ‘natural’. It will mean, not only humans but all species who exists on planet earth . And we have seen that homosexuality is found in mammals, birds and even insects. Also  I hate to break your conviction that homosexuality  is “unnatural” and “not a disease”, the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 and the World Health Organization in

1992 did accept homosexuality as a ”normal” variant of human sexuality. That apart, if one reads the history of sexual practices across the world, one realises that same-sex sexual practices have been  there since times  immemorial and that sexual identity-based categories are only an early 20th century invention of American-European psychologists and sexologists.

 

Now before, you jump one me saying s AHA, dont give me western evidence on homsoexuality as , According to you, homosexuality is a “modern” phenomenon and must be ‘cured’ to give way to reproductive heterosexuality.

But hold on Sir, Unlike most civilizations of its time, the Indian society during the Vedic age and even before had an open mind-set on matters of homosexuality and “queer” issues. The statues  of different temples justify the presence and acceptance of homosexuality in ancient India. Khajuraho temple in Madhya Pradesh, the Shiva temple in Bagali, Karnataka, the Rajarani temple in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha are a testimony to this fact

 

on the southern wall, shows a woman facing the viewer, standing on her head, engaged in intercourse, although her partner is facing away from the viewer and their gender cannot be determined. She is held by two female attendants on either side and reaches out to touch one of them in her pubic area.

on the southern wall, shows a woman facing the viewer, standing on her head, engaged in intercourse, although her partner is facing away from the viewer and their gender cannot be determined. She is held by two female attendants on either side and reaches out to touch one of them in her pubic area.

 

Men havings ex in Khajuraho, 13th CE

Men havings ex in Khajuraho, 13th CE

At the Lakshmana temple in Khajuraho (954 CE), a man receives fellatio from a seated male as part of an orgiastic scene.

At the Lakshmana temple in Khajuraho (954 CE), a man receives fellatio from a seated male as part of an orgiastic scene.

I would like to add that Hinduism and homosexuality are not strange bedfellows. Hindu texts have not shied away from addressing homosexuality The Hindu mythology has many incidents showcasing fluidity of sex, where same-sex interactions have often served a sacred purpose. And sometimes, the gods themselves have been part of these transformations and unions.Add to this, a portion of the Kama Sutra is dedicated to the fulfillment of sexual desires and encompasses the full range of human sexuality.

 

 

Homosexuality has never been considered a crime in Hindu culture. In fact, Lord Ayyappa was born of Hari-Hara (Vishnu and Shiva).Homosexuality, not a crime in any Smriti. Everyone has male and female elements. According to their dominance, tendencies show up and may change.

 

The androgynous form of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati better known as “Ardhanarishwar” is worshipped in full galore Ardhanarishwara means ‘The Lord who is half a woman, and half man’.

In the Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu takes the form of Mohini, a beautiful enchantress, in order to trick the demons into giving up Amrita after the manthan. But Lord Shiva falls for Mohini, and they have a relationsip, with Shiva being fully aware of the real identity of Mohini. The result of this union was a son (Lord Ayyappa).

Shikhandi, in Mahabharata, was born a girl, Shikhandini, to Drupada, the king of Panchala. She was the reincarnation of Amba, who was rendered unmarriageable by Bhishma. She was granted her wish to be the cause of Bhishma’s death, and was reborn Shikhandini. But since a divine voice told Drupada to raise Shikhandini as a son, she was taught warfare. On the wedding night, Shikhandini’s wife discovered that her “husband” was female, and insulted her. Shikhandini fled, but met a yaksha who exchanged his sex with her. She then became a man, Shikhandi, whom during the Kurukshetra war, Bhishma recognised as Amba reborn and refused to fight ‘a woman’. After his death, Shikhandi’s masculinity was transferred back to the yaksha.

When Arjuna spurned the amorous advances of a nymph, Urvashi, she cursed him to become a ‘kliba’, or a ‘hijra’, a member of the third gender. Lord Krishna then tells Arjuna that this curse would be the perfect disguise for Arjuna during his last year of exile. Arjuna takes on the name Brihannala and dresses in women’s clothes for a year.

You also believ that the role of the woman in a heterosexual union is that of being a mother-homekeeper and the role of the man is that of the protector-giver.

 

With such a patriarchal statement, I wonder what are you trying to say . We all know Violations of women’s sexual and reproductive health rights are often deeply engrained in societal values pertaining to women’s sexuality.

Patriarchal concepts of women’s roles within the family mean that women are often valued based on their ability to reproduce.

Early marriage and pregnancy, or repeated pregnancies spaced too closely together, often as the result of efforts to produce male offspring because of the preference for sons, has a devastating impact on women’s health with sometimes fatal consequences. Women are also often blamed for infertility, suffering ostracism and being subjected various human rights violations as a result.

Patriarchy also controls women‟s reproductive power. In a  patriarchal society women don‟t have control of reproduction, or to use contraception, terminate  pregnancy and prefer to girl child

Further patriarchy not only forces women to be mothers of sons, it also determines the condition of their motherhood. This ideology of motherhood is considered one of the bases of women‟s oppression because it  creates and strengthens the  divide between  private and public, it restricts  women‟s mobility and growth   and it reproduces male  domination.

You further add in your Facebook post that “it is not men who pursue women, but women who pursue men. It is the Life Force which drives women to pursue and catch a mate, who will then look after her while she is performing nature’s serious and vital function of continuing the species”.

Also, procreation is just one reason why humans have sex. The other reasons are many like the pleasure of emotional, physical intimacy. Similar to the fact that food is not eaten just for survival but also because it gives pleasure. If procreation was the only reason then people would stop having sex after having progeny .

The icing on the cake is fact when you say  you are not in favour of criminalising homosexuality but its not natural ?

 

The  AHA moment, where i ask you-

Is it natural to be normal?

If yes, why would we need laws to maintain something natural?

In other words, if heterosexuality was normal, why would we need Section 377 to curtail same-sex intimacy

And them comes your gem —

Women who remain single are prone to have psychological problems.

Seriously, did you know that single women are not dependent on any man to provide for them .  Infant many single women are providing  for men . Should those men be shot because they decided to live off the woman and hence go against the nature? Also did you  know that single is not necessarily divorcee or widow ,there are , particularly those who are single by choice. There is no dearth oft such women as they are now occupying jobs that were traditionally considered male domains or unfit for females. You rarely saw a woman waitressing a decade ago for instance; as this occupation was considered socially “inappropriate” for an Indian girl (airhostesses were regarded as glorified waitresses).As the job market has exploded, more women have become economically independent and are enjoying the freedom of living on their own terms. They don’t need to succumb to the social pressure to marry and live up to traditional expectations that disregard their individuality.

So, Justice Katju, Please WAKE- UP from your sexist slumber , and see the reality of woman empowerment.

 I sincerely hope you find a psychologist soon, because now you are now definitely ,  prone  to   developing psychological  problems.

Happy New Year and Get well soon

 

Feminist and Human rights activist

 

Kamayani Bali- Mahabal

 

PS-  not so exhaustive  list of temples  you must visit for evidence collection

  • Also at Khajuraho, – At the Lakshmana temple in Khajuraho (954 CE), a man receives fellatio from a seated male as part of an orgiastic scene.
  • At the Shiva temple at Ambernath, constructed in 1060 CE, a badly weathered relief suggests an erotic interest between two women.
  • At the Rhajarani Temple in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, dating from the 10th or 11th century, a sculpture depicts two women engaged in oral sex.

A 12th century Shiva temple in Bagali, Karnataka depicts a scene of apparent oral sex between two males on a sculpture below the sikhara.

  • At Padhavli near Gwalior, a ruined temple from the 10th century shows a man within an orgiastic group receiving fellatio from another male.
  • An 11th century lifesize sandstone sculpture from Orissa, now in the Seattle Art Museum, shows Kama, god of love, shooting an arrow at two women who are embracing one another.
  • ( Friends do add on the travel itinerary, as there are many more , in comments section 🙂

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Homophobia and Islamobphobia – The Jamaat e Islami Hind and the Supreme Court’s Decision on Section 377

377

JANUARY 29, 2014

Guest Post by Fahad Hashmi

[ YSupreme Court of India, dismissed the ‘review petition’ that had been filed with a plea to reverse the Supreme Court’s recent (December 2013) decision to uphold the constitutionality of Section 377 of the IPC. This decision effectively ‘re-criminalized’ Homosexuality in India and is a severe blow to human rights. Various religious groups, Hindu, Muslim and Christian had appealed to the Supreme Court to act against the rights and interests of homosexuals. In a sad instance of the erosion of  secular and democratic values, the Supreme Court has endorsed their view. The Jamaat -e-Islami Hind, a right wing, muslim fundamentalist organization that claims to speak for Indian Muslims has welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision. This post by Fahad Hashmi attacks the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s position on homosexuality and challenges its claim to speak in the name of muslims and their faith. We see it as an important contribution to the ongoing discussion on section 377 on Kafila ]

“There was once…a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. 
In the north of the sad city stood mighty factories in which (so I’m told) sadness was actually manufactured, packaged and sent all over the world, which never seemed to get enough of it. Black smoke poured out of the chimneys of the sadness factories and hung over the city like bad news”.
(Haroun and Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie)

It is one of the ironies of democracies across the world that minorities of all shades are always in the crosshairs of majoritarianism. This minority-majority is a function of numbers and power though this is not a thorough definition since we have had seen altered power equation of this binary. The apartheid South Africa is a case in point. For stating the obvious the strength of a democracy is a function of safety and rights that minorities enjoy in it. However, minorities on the whole are always drawing majority’s fire. On the subcontinent one could see this happening in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and of course India is not an exception.

 

Lately we are witnessing this hatred towards sexual minorities in India. Along with the majority, minorities have also tagged along in this endeavor of curbing people’s right. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s judgment on IPC 377, there is too much hullaballoo within the country as religious parties are too busy in doing tom tom over this judgment. As we know it, the judgment which has come of late has scraped the earlier one given by the Delhi High court on IPC 377, a colonial hand-me-down. In a nutshell, IPC 377 has been re-criminalized! This particular judgment is getting endorsement from a good number of religious parties. And one of them is Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) which is at the helm of the campaign, and working itself into self-righteous froth over the criminalization of IPC 377. It has been busy in organizing seminars and protests rallies against this self-perceived ‘immorality’ of homosexuality. One is at one’s wit end seeing this celebration over the judgment that curbs the legal rights of sexual minorities. Of all Muslim religious parties JIH appears to be more loyal than the king! How should one understand this kowtowing on JIH’s part?

The sole aim of Jamaat-e-Islami, a politico-religious party, wherever it exists, is to establish an Islamic state premised on a particular understanding of the Quran and the Islamic history. To put it another way, JIH seeks to bring theocracy or in Maududi’s word ‘theo-democracy’, a blend of religion and politics. The ideology of Jamaat, which is Maududi’s brainchild, rests on binary opposites of Islam and jahiliyya. In traditional parlance jahiliyya means a stage before the advent of Islam. By putting a political spin on this apolitical notion the Islamist ideologue has made jahiliyya an antagonistic category which is at loggerheads with Jamaat’s understanding of Islam. This ‘Islam’ is puritanical, literalist and closed having desperation for grabbing political power only. The ‘Islam versus jahiliyya paradigm’ is the Archimedean plane—one and only plane—through which Jamaat tries to comprehend and interpret the present times. This particular way of looking at the world makes all diversities of the contemporary world an enemy of its ideology. Since Islamism talks about Islam of the high church seeing things in ‘either-or’ terms so it is forced to put things into the either two boxes of Islam and jahiliyya. There is no ‘no man’s land’ in its scheme of interpretation and understanding of the scripture. Therefore, the presence of other planes in this rich and varied world is oddities in its grand narrative. Thus, recognition and tolerance are not in the genetic make-up of this ideology. This could be seen in the intellectual and ideological milieu that the Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan and Bangladesh has spawned over time which has been a constant source of production and perpetuation of intolerance, fanaticism and cruel patriarchy. One knows about Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan’s role in anti-Ahmadiya movement that triggered witch hunting of Qadyanis, and that has made them constitutionally an object of hatred. The Shahbag movement catapulted Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (JIB) to ‘fame’ showing its antagonistic role in the country’s liberation struggle. The news about the violence that is being employed on minorities there by Islami Chatra Shibir has regularly been coming.
Since JIH has stopped its ideological pronouncement openly given the Hindutva juggernaut and communally charged environment of the country so this particular issue of homosexuality has given this party an opportunity to put forth its ideology to the outer world under the guise of ‘morality’, ‘eastern culture’ and ‘India being a religious country’. Therefore, the party is trying cashing in on people’s sentiments for getting approval of being a righteous party working for the betterment of Indian society, and thus a soft spot for itself. However, when it comes to Muslim Personal Law, JIH including All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and a string of Muslim organizations take recourse to the same constitution and constitutional morality which promises the minority its cultural, educational and other rights. For instance, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shahbano case was perceived an intervention in the sacred realm as personal law, to these guys is premised on the divine principle and nobody is allowed to change even an iota in that realm. Slogans like ‘Islam in danger’, ‘personal law is our right’ etc. were being put forth. While using the idea of freedom, they join the chorus of those championing Muslim women’s right to wear scarf or hijab in France and other secular countries. These people eulogize activists and intellectuals, such as Arundhati Roy and Teesta Setalvad when they write against victimization of Muslims. But the same people go into a sulk when such activists or intellectuals criticize Muslim fundamentalism. What is the point in endorsing the judgment when it does not concern the community at all? The claims to any just claim for right has to be universal. It is sheer inconsistency of the stance where rights are denied to others that we claim for ourselves.

Since we are living in a democratic country therefore it possesses a constitution and this constitution ensures certain rights to its citizens including minorities to live their lives as per their cultural and religious world views. Sexual minorities, too, are supposed to get their share of right by the same logic and reason that has ensured religious minorities and other ethnic clans their rights. Getting carried away by theological impulse every time and trampling upon the rights of ‘unpopular’ minorities ought not to be trapping of other minorities. Are we supposed to rhyme with the majority on such issue as it marginalizes, humiliates and weakens other minorities? The obsession with hem line, neck line and sexualities of others is a conundrum that calls for an answer from the self-proclaimed guardians of the community!

It would not be wrong to say that curbing people’s right to choice and human freedom in the name of religion also sows the seeds of Islamophobia on religious groups’ part. Such proclamations tacitly imply that the religion possesses an innate proclivity to intolerance, violence and homophobia. The type of placard that has been used against LGBT’s rights by JIH’s Mumbai zone is nauseating, downright disgusting and morally untenable. Riding rough shod over people’s rights, and ramming ‘morality’ down people’s throat makes religious teaching a calculated affront on other’s life. These so called guardians of religion are themselves responsible for the islamophobia that they generate.

To add to this, the language that has been employed in the recent write-ups from within the community in support of collectively fighting this injustice of criminalization of homosexuality has its own problematic. A secular state should recognize the rights of its sexual minorities by ensuring its legal right to what the Supreme Court has termed ‘unnatural’ sexuality in the same way in which it recognizes the rights of its religious minorities. This simply means that all well meaning people ought to forge alliances and struggle together to ensure people’s rights, and the rights of all minorities, religious, or sexual. The language of patronage in which the necessity of extending support to LGBT has been articulated is tantamount to giving charity—unwillingly or willingly—which is pathetic and a sad commentary on our discretion. I would hasten to add that our struggle should be based upon human dignity, inclusion and universal ideas of justice.

Read more here — http://kafila.org/2014/01/29/homophobia-and-islamobphobia-the-jamaat-e-islami-hind-and-the-supreme-courts-decision-on-section-377-fahad-hashmi/

 

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Homosexuality is unnatural, leading psychiatrist says #WTFnews

,TNN | Jan 21, 2014,

 
Homosexuality is unnatural, leading psychiatrist says
MUMBAI: The Indian Psychiatric Society‘s immediate past president, Dr Indira Sharma, ruffled countless plumes and feathers on Monday describing homosexuality as “unnatural” – a repetition of her statement three days ago at the society’s annual meet where she said homosexuals uncomfortable with their sexuality should seek psychiatric help.

“The manner in which homosexuals have brought the talk of sex to the roads makes people uncomfortable. It’s unnatural. Our society doesn’t talk about sex. Heterosexuals don’t talk about sex. It’s a private matter,” the Banaras Hindu University teacher told TOI on phone.

In December 2013, the Supreme Court had overturned a ruling of the Delhi high court decriminalizing same-sex relations. The judgment was part of a panel discussion at the IPS annual meet in Pune between January 16 and 19. Sharma, whose tenure as association president ended with the meeting, was on the panel.

“Throughout her speech, she had a condescending tone. The underlying message was homosexuality is unnatural,” said a psychiatrist. The doctor said Sharma wanted “homo clubs” to be closed down, but Sharma denied this. “I am unaware of homo club being a term at all. It may exist in America. I would never use such words,” Sharma said, adding some doctors were fabricating stories.

At the last IPS annual conference in January 2013, Sharma as president had claimed early marriage “preferably in early 20s or as soon as the boy gets employed” could curb violence against women. Early marriages were recommended so that “sexual needs are satisfied in an appropriate manner”.

Asked about the speech, Sharma said her main concern was for homosexuals aren’t comfortable with their sexuality. “There are some who are comfortable, but there are many who are not. The latter should realize they can get help (from psychiatrists). Some of them may even be able to change their orientation,” Sharma said. She added that those comfortable with their orientation should be made aware that their behaviour was causing a lot of uneasiness in society.

TOI spoke to two psychiatrists who were chairpersons of the discussion in which Sharma was involved. Chennai-based Dr Siva Nambi said Sharma’s views were her own and Delhi-based Dr Avdesh Sharma maintained she hadn’t made statements against gays.

“Doctors have to understand that we can’t intervene unless a person comes to us saying he is uncomfortable with his sexual orientation,” said Nambi.

Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty said, “Same-sex orientation needs to be accepted as normal. Sexual orientation has different dimensions and should be tackled compassionately. This will help many come out of the closet. Mental health professionals need to accept the differences and bring down distress.”

Palav Patankar, a spokesperson for gay rights, said, “Many doctors in India graduated when medical curriculum hadn’t been updated. Psychiatrists need to keep abreast of social changes. Doctors should go back to books and stop doing disservice to society.”

Gay rights activist Ashok Row Kavi said Sharma’s statements are shocking, particularly since IPS, in 2009, had written to newspapers supporting the ruling decriminalizing Section 377.

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#India -Posters call for gay people to face #deathpenalty #LGBT #WTFnews

Posters across India call for gay people to face death penalty Far-right Muslim group calls for anyone who supports LGBTI people, ‘homosexual terror mongers’, to be jailed for life

30 December 2013 | By Joe Morgan, Omar Kuddus, Gay star news

 

s millions of LGBTI’s sex lives in India have become illegal, one group is calling for all of these people to be killed. The Indian National Party, a far-right Muslim group, has printed posters and leaflets and distributed them across the country. It calls for capital punishment for gay sex, as well as the arrests of any person who fights for LGBTI equality.

homophobia

‘In the name of all mighty God,’ a translator told us the poster, which was spotted in Madurai – the third largest city in the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu, reads. ‘OH! The Government of India! Give up legalizing homosexuality by law in the name of individual independence. ‘Change the punishment of life imprisonment for homosexuality to capital punishment. ‘OH! The Government of Tamil Nadu! Arrest the Cultural Terror Mongers who fight for homosexuality.

’ On the poster, it also includes a quote that reads ‘if a society does not destroy the evils in it, it will inevitably bear its consequences’.

Speaking to Gay Star News, an Indian gay rights activist who wished to remain anonymous said: ‘This is only the beginning. ‘With the Supreme Court saying we are criminal with Section 377, more gay people are facing death threats by the day. ‘I have heard of at least a dozen homophobic violent attacks in Delhi alone since we were recriminalized. ‘And with the Indian National Party calling for our deaths, who knows what will happen now?

‘We just have to keep fighting on.’ On 15 December, the world joined with India for a Global Day Of Rage against the Supreme Court’s decision. –

See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/posters-across-india-call-gay-people-face-death-penalty301213#sthash.vItAdiDZ.dpuf

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How Can Rape Be ‘Natural’? #Sodomy

The Raghavji case should generate new laws, not homophobic jokes from politicians

By Kavita Krishnan | Grist Media 

Charges of sexual assault, rape, sexual exploitation, or sex-for-favours against political leaders are pretty common. Sexual violence, after all, is about power, not desire. And who has more power than MPs, MLAs and leaders from the country’s ruling parties? So what’s new in the Raghavji case that hasn’t already been seen in the allegations against ND TiwariAbhishek Manu Singhvi, Amarmani Tripathi, Mahipal Maderna, Raj Kishore Kesri, PJ Kurien, to name just a few?

The only thing that’s new is the fact that the complainant is a man. But if one goes by most of the media coverage and the political discourse around the allegation, it is as if Raghavji’s crime is that of sex with a man, rather than sex against the will of someone.

Media stories have (with very few honourable exceptions) almost invariably claimed that Raghavji has been charged with ‘sodomy’. Not for the first time, we have had to wonder if the media has no obligations whatsoever towards accuracy? The media’s use of the term ‘sodomy’ is inaccurate because there is no crime of ‘sodomy’ in the IPC. ‘Sodomy’ is a term of Victorian vintage that describes anal sex, not anal rape. Section 377 of the IPC does hold sodomy to be “sex against the order of nature”, but Section 377 has been ‘read down’ by the historic Delhi High Court verdict of 2009, to cover only non-consensual acts. So, as in any crime of sexual violence, the only relevant matter in the Raghavji case is the issue of consent, not the nature of the non-consensual sexual act itself.

In sum, the use of the term ‘sodomy’ (without specifying its non-consensual nature) sensationally only serves to fan up a prurient homophobia.

Politicians are not far behind in indulging in homophobia. Rape jokes and homophobic jokes are rampant on social media – with prominent political figures leading the way. Sample a few of these ‘jokes’ in the sober light of reason. Digvijay Singh of the Congress tweeted a joke which he said was an SMS by an MP journalist: “Uttrakhand mai prakratik aapda aayee hai // Aur Madhya Pradesh mai aprakratik aapda ayi hai” (“There is a natural calamity in Uttarakhand and an unnatural one in Madhya Pradesh.”) Dr Kumar Vishvas of the Aam Aadmi Party similarly tweeted, “Raghavji ke baad ab rupaya bhi giraftar hona chahiye! Aprakritik giravat ke liye” (“After Raghavji, the rupee should also be arrested! For an unnatural fall.”)

So, the rape of a man by a man is ‘unnatural’? Would that not imply that the rape of a woman by a man is ‘natural’? How does one define ‘unnatural’ anyway? Isn’t contraception ‘unnatural’? Isn’t even abstinence as a method of contraception (as recommended by some religions and by MK Gandhi) ‘unnatural’? The fact is that human sexuality – in its sheer range and diversity – is not just biological, but very much social in its character. To deem some of these acts as ‘natural’ and others as ‘unnatural’ is very much an ideological act, an act of bias.

It is as though the sex of the rape complainant in this case is a license for everyone, including even public figures, to surpass all limits of crudeness, tastelessness and insensitivity. Digvijay Singh’s mention of the Uttarakhand tragedy in this context competes for insensitivity with his homophobic rape joke. In another tweeted comment Kumar Vishvas had said “Twitter ka Raghavji mat karo” (Don’t do a Raghavji to Twitter – i.e. don’t sodomise Twitter). Is this kind of rape joke ‘okay’ because the complainant is a man?

In spite of all formal obeisance to the anti-rape movement and to Justice Verma, it is clear that Digvijay Singh and Kumar Vishwas, as well as print and electronic journalists, haven’t bothered to read the Verma report’s meticulously detailed and educative chapter on sexual violence faced by lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex people – a chapter that was inspired by the moving testimonies of activists and survivors to the Verma panel.

The Verma Committee’s report discusses how discrimination and stigma on the basis of their sexual identity and orientation compound the experience of violence faced by LGBTI people. The Committee clearly upholds that Article 15 of the Indian Constitution (which prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth) uses the word ‘sex’ as including sexual orientation.

If discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is unconstitutional, then Section 377 of the IPC is also discriminatory and against the spirit of the Constitution, because it continues to stigmatise (if no longer criminalise) non-heterosexual sexual orientations as being ‘against the order of nature.’ In 2009, there was no law except 377 to cover sexual violence against male children, as well as adult men, and so activists only asked for 377 to be ‘read down’ rather than scrapped. Now, the Prevention of Child Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) has been passed in 2012, so 377 is no longer needed to protect children.

In the movement against rape that followed the December 16th Delhi gang rape, we had felt the need for the rape law to cover violence against men, and so had asked for the victim in the rape law to be gender-neutral (while keeping the perpetrator gender-specific, i.e. male). We were acutely aware of how common the rape of men, transgenders, hijras and intersex people is, especially in jails, police custody and caste violence. The Justice Verma report also recommended the same. But the Government, initially adamant on making the entire rape law (perpetrator included) gender-neutral, agreed to make the perpetrator gender-specific, but also turned around and made the victim gender-specific as well! The consequence is before us. The only law left to cover a case like the Raghavji one is Section 377, which still uses discriminatory and unconstitutional language and concepts.

The Raghavji case is a reminder of the urgent need to amend the rape law and ensure that the ‘victim’ as defined by the law is gender-neutral.

The Delhi HC verdict on 377 has been challenged in the Supreme Court, which is yet to pronounce its verdict. The Central Government has been, predictably but shamefully, reluctant to endorse the Delhi HC verdict and protect the constitutional rights of same sex people, seeking to leave the matter to the judiciary. One can only hope that the Supreme Court will uphold the exemplary Delhi HC verdict, and that Section 377 will no longer remains on the statute books.

When a woman is raped, remarks by public figures and media about her clothes or conduct are abhorrent instances of rape culture. When a man is raped by a man, homophobic jokes about gay sex also contribute to rape culture, trivializing the crime and being thoroughly insensitive to the victim.

In Raghavji’s case, the courts will decide, based on the facts that emerge in the investigation, if he is guilty of non-consensual sex. He will not be judged on the nature of his sexual acts. Meanwhile, all of us – and especially the media, public figures and politicians – have a responsibility to desist from rape jokes and homophobic sentiments. And political leaders like Digvijay Singh and Kumar Vishvas ought to publicly retract and apologise for their remarks. If they were to do so, it would go a long way to correcting bias and sensitizing their thousands of supporters and the general public that discrimination based on sexual orientation is unconstitutional.

Kavita Krishnan is Secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA). Follow her athttps://twitter.com/kavita_krishnan 

 

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