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#SatyamevJayate – Aamir Khan – Gender and Sexuality #MumkinHai

THE SPECTRE OF 3 DIGITS AND A TV SHOW

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Aamir Khan’s Tv show ‘Satyameva Jayate’ recently telecast an episode on non-normative sexualities. While some gender identities were carefully ‘invisibilised’, the hoopla around the whole issue makes one wonder about the ‘instant gratification’ framework of such a liberal mindset. Sayan Bhattacharya questions such a movement which hypes a certain politics of representation either by celebrating it or by critiquing it..

So the latest outrage is that Aamir Khan has been slapped with a notice to which he has to reply soon. The charge? Contempt of court for “promoting homosexuality” on his TV show Satyameva Jayate. This, just a couple of days after Tim Cook “came out” as gay. So there begins again the much repeated saga of comparisons between the primitive east which does not respect one’s individual choice of partner in love (which is not a crime) and the evolved west where one’s individual choice is respected and celebrated, and where you can mint truck loads of money inspite of your love. One can almost feel the wetness of the tears, the hotness of the outrage as both keep flowing forth copiously in the media and social networking sites.

 

After the Supreme Court set aside the Delhi High Court verdict that had read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code last December, for months on end, educational spaces were agog with protest rallies and discussions on non-normative sexualities, celebrity authors like Vikram Seth chose to lend support to the cause (by posing unshaved on a magazine cover and then later waxing eloquent on love), the media too covered the judgment quite extensively. This level of mobilisation was quite unprecedented and though the class and caste dimensions of such a massive response were largely elitist, at least discussions around sex, sexuality and desires were coming to the fore. Topics often invisibilised in middle class homes were making their uneasy presence felt. But one curative petition later, all went quiet on the rainbow front. Outside of the regular pink parties, pride parades, the conversation around sexualities started losing steam. Till the messiah in the form of Aamir Khan arrived on the scene. Having already salvaged manual scavengers, battered housewives, fetuses, alcoholics and others discarded on the margins, he chose to train his gaze this time on the queers. So there he was with his assembly line of the transwoman, the gay man, the lesbian woman and the hijra. LGBT, no LGTH. The B left out? Too complex for a show of one and half hours?

However, what concerns me here is not so much about who or which identity label remained outside Aamir Khan’s benign gaze but about the tone and tenor of a movement which needs resuscitation from a corporate sponsored television show telecast on a channel which will go down in contemporary Indian history to have begun one of the most regressive phases of Indian television with the K soaps. The politics of representation is always charged and is inherently incomplete. Lived realities are far too complicated to be neatly fitted into little jars with labels. For instance, when one says gay or lesbian, what does it connote? What about those men/women who have sex with other men/women and who refuse to identify as gay or lesbian? These are old debates and they will always be there and so will the political compulsion of identity labels as they articulate realities that rupture the hegemony of a single or dominant narrative. So the question is not about how Khan chose a particular identity over another and in the process invisibilised others. The question is about our expectations from a structure which is already prefigured to showcase only one kind of reality only.

For a moment, let’s get back to that much celebrated episode. A uniform narrative runs through all the ‘cases’ presented. Parents/relatives disapprove, then approve … today all the characters are economically well off, their days of struggle for inclusion now a haze (in fact so smooth is the transition from invisibility to confident articulation of self that one wonders whether all the stories of violence one hears about the clinic, family, school and so on are exaggerated). Out of the four individuals on the show, three belong to an upper class background and the fourth (the hijra) ran away from home (the only unaccepting family), became part of a hijra clan and is now an established sexuality rights and HIV activist with a big NGO. So a linear progression from guilt, resentment to acceptance, confidence. The project of the ideal law abiding, family loving citizen whose choice of lover is only incidental and hence harmless enough to be accepted. Now you might ask why is the teleos here already worked out? What if the gay man chose to run away from home, not settle down with one lover but took multiple partners? What if the lesbian chose to keep her husband as well as her same sex lovers? Or what if there were a segment on sexual abuse in school, or one on “corrective rape”? What about the working class male sex worker? The transman who is foreover invisibilised even post the NALSA verdict? What about the dalit lesbian girls contemplating suicide? Or the kinky and queer individual? Yes, these are all absences … telling absences. Yes, Aamir Khan is talking of the dominant caste, upper class queer person who is craving for inclusion in the New India project. But then, my question to you is, why should we even expect the teleos to be not worked out in such a mediascape?

 

A show that runs on huge donations from Reliance will surely not be probing non-normative desires among tribals in the forests of Dandakaranya! As if Reliance— whose tsar spread out his largesse for the BJP before the elections— doing its token bit for liberalism not enough! During the show, Aamir Khan advertised a toll-free Airtel number on which the viewers were asked to give a missed call, in support of the reading down of Section 377, somewhat like a signature campaign or an online petition. A close to a million calls was received and Aamir promised to take this massive support to the government and press for the reading down of 377. While queer activists across India are rejoicing at this new elixir of hope, one wonders what will their tribe thrive on when the reading down actually takes place eventually with or without petitions? Section 377 which criminalises certain sexual acts (any intercourse other than peno-vaginal penetration) and not sexual identities is reflective of the heteronormative patriarchal state premised on procreative sex but in saying so, do we also assume that when the spectre of these three digits vanish, the edifice of patriarchy will crumble? If not, then why are our queer movements predominantly focused on a piece of law, which in any case has little impact on large swathes of the Indian population ( think of the tribal girls who committed joint suicide even during the rainbow optimism of the Delhi High Court judgment days or the dalit female athlete who is constantly subjected to taunts about her muscular build)? Yes, some individuals will feel emboldened by all these conversations in the media and talk about themselves in their family spaces or at work or elsewhere but when did movements become only about some individuals with access to knowledge capital and its attendant privileges?

So then the problem is not with a superstar who has built a brand around a thinking-superstar-who dabbles-in-issue-based-films type and who loves role-playing as a saviour. It is not even with a channel which has realised that the K soaps and dance reality shows have reached a saturation point and the viewers expect newer formats and newer content. It is not even with Reliance which is doing its bit in the name of that mythical/chimerical animal called corporate social responsibility. It is but obvious that their donations will be only for the big ticket NGOs working in Delhi and Bombay, NGOs focused only on law and HIV-AIDS and nothing else. Surely they will not be sending their blessings for autonomous women’s groups, or Dalit transgender bodies! They are all doing their jobs towards a desired goal. Perhaps then, the problem is within a movement which gloats in a safe notion of victimhood (from which the only way out is to ‘come out’) and then looks for a safe way out (law will give you the gay utopia you dream of). But then are movements monolithic? There are not and perhaps that’s the hope!

http://kindlemag.in/spectre-3-digits-tv-show/

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CPI-ML – pro -people Manifesto asks repeal of UAPA, #AFSPA, Sedition Law and #Sec377

 

CPIML Election Symbol

 ELECTION SYMBOL OF CPI ML 

 

Change Policies, Change the Regime, Ensure People’s Voice in Parliament!

Change Policies, Change the Regime, Ensure People’s Voice in Parliament!

 

–         CPI(ML)’s Appeal for Lok Sabha Elections 2014

 

Dear Citizens,

 

The Lok Sabha 2014 elections are being held at a time when the country is in a severe crisis. Two decades of pro-corporate, anti-people economic policies have resulted in steeply spiralling prices, hunger, joblessness, farmers’ suicides, and plunder of land and natural resources by corporations, leading to mega scams and forcible eviction of the poor. Education, health, nutritious food, housing and other necessities of a dignified life have all gone out of reach, even as Governments have washed their hands off responsibilities and left people to the mercy of the corporate-dominated market. People’s movements are faced with severe repression, communal and caste massacres go unpunished. Women are deprived of freedom, equality, and dignity. The fundamental interests and rights of the common people are being denied and truncated on every front.

 

The Congress-led UPA Government that has been in power for two successive terms is squarely responsible for this state of affairs. It had come to power in 2004 and again in 2009 promising to improve the lot of the common people, but did just the opposite. The people are therefore eagerly looking for an end to the corrupt rule of the Congress and the BJP is desperately trying to step into this vacuum. But going by the BJP’s track record at the Centre during 1998-2004 and in the states it has ruled, whether Gujarat and Chhattisgarh where it has been ruling for more than a decade, or Bihar and Jharkhand where it was in power till recently, choosing BJP in place of the Congress can only be like jumping from the frying pan into fire.

 

It is important to remember that in 2004 there were two big reasons for the BJP-led NDA’s stunning defeat. Firstly, the people were angry with the NDA Govt’s tall claims of ‘India Shining’, which was a cruel joke on farmers’ suicides, rising unemployment, steep prices and growing misery experienced by the people. And the other equally important reason was the 2002 Gujarat genocide presided over by the BJP government in the state led by none other than Narendra Modi, who is today declared as the prime ministerial nominee of the BJP.

 

The bid to foist Narendra Modi as India’s Prime Minister is backed not just by the Sangh parivar, but unmistakably enough also by all major corporate houses even as it enjoys the blessings of America as already indicated by several American overtures including the visit of Nancy Powell, US Ambassador in India, to Ahmedabad.

 

The hope for freedom from the all-pervasive crisis lies in the people’s struggles for an alternative! Clearly there is no readymade alternative; we have to build one through sustained democratic assertion of the people. In 2014, let us vote to change the economic policies that have brought us corruption and misery; let us vote to secure our rights and end repression! Let us vote to kick out the corrupt and anti-people forces, and send the forces of genuine struggle into Parliament!

 

CPI(ML)’s Charter for Change  

 

CPI(ML) has a glorious record of people’s struggles for transformation, and we reiterate our commitment that every MP elected from CPI(ML) will carry forward the people’s movement for the following Charter of Change.    

1.     Effect a pro-people shift in economic policies:

a)     Enact a new law to protect farmland and stop all private acquisition of forest land, coastal areas and traditional fishing zones

b)    Increased public investment in agriculture and all kinds of institutional support including debt-waivers to the crisis-ridden peasantry

c)     Greater emphasis on small and medium enterprises to strengthen domestic manufacturing

d)    No FDI in retail and strategic sectors, protection of all labour-intensive sectors from adverse foreign competition

e)    Stop privatisation of key infrastructure and financial sectors and bring key resources like oil and gas and minerals under public control

f)      Increase tax revenue by strengthening the system of corporate taxes and levying inheritance tax on the rich

g)     Increased public investment and health, education and scientific research

 

2.     Curbing price rise and improving the conditions of the toiling masses

a)     Prices of essential commodities and services must not be allowed to escalate beyond the reach of the common people

b)    Food Security Act must be strengthened to ensure monthly supply of at least 50 kg foodgrains for a family of five along with sugar, milk, pulses and edible oil

c)     Provisions of MNREGA must be expanded to guarantee at least 200 days of work at a minimum daily wage of Rs 300, municipal areas must also be brought within the purview of the Act

d)    BPL irregularities must be stopped – non tax-payers and landowners owning less than 5 acres of land must all be considered BPL for benefits meant for the poor

e)    Land ceiling should be lowered and standardised and land, tenancy and other pro-peasant agrarian reforms must be accomplished on war-footing and homestead land should be guaranteed for the labouring people in agriculture and plantation sectors

 

3.     Reorient Development Strategy to Guarantee People’s Rights and Protect Environment

a)     Reorient the strategy of development, making distributive justice, people’s rights and environmental sustainability its three core principles

b)    Stop forcible acquisition of land and return all acquired land that is lying unused to the original owners

c)     Stop all projects that violate environmental norms

d)    Stop nuclear projects and GM crops that pose a threat to public health and safety

e)    Ensure 24×7 supply of electricity at subsidised rates for rural and urban poor and for small enterprises, shops and agriculture

f)      Rural electrification

g)     Ensure quality education and healthcare for all, education up to 12thstandard must be free and imparted through the common school system

 

4.     Equal pay for equal work, regularisation of contract labour and increase in minimum wages

a)     Workers employed in work of perennial nature must be regularised, the principle of equal pay for equal work must be upheld in every field, women workers must get equal wages as their male counterparts,

b)    ASHA, Anganwadi, mid-day meal workers must be treated as regular employees with proper pay scales

c)     Minimum wages must be raised to Rs 15000 per month

 

5.     Guarantee People’s Rights in Every Sphere

a)     Right to food, shelter, health, education and work must all be incorporated into the Constitution as fundamental rights

b)    Educated unemployed youth must be given a minimum monthly allowance of Rs 5000 till they get proper employment

c)     Implement the recommendations of Sachar Committee and Ranganath Misra Commission to improve the conditions of Muslims and other minority communities

 

6.     Repeal of draconian, archaic and anti-people laws and Justice for all

a)     UAPA, AFSPA, Sedition Law and Section 377 must be revoked

b)    Operation Green Hunt and Salwa Judum must be stopped and all issues related to adivasi rights and development must be sorted out expeditiously

c)     SEZ Act 2005 and Electricity Act 2003 must be repealed

d)    Special Tribunals must be set up to make sure that the guilty of all caste massacres, communal riots, ethnic killings and extra-judicial killings are brought to book

e)    Prevention of SC/ST Atrocities Act must be strengthened and law enacted to stop racism and attacks on minorities and migrant workers

f)      Witch-hunt of Muslim and Adivasi youth must be stopped, trials must be expedited and those languishing in jail for years without conviction must be released and compensated for the damage caused to their life and reputation

 

7.     Women’s Rights and Freedom

a)     Secure, dignified, remunerative employment must be ensured for women

b)    Access to clean toilets for all women, in homes as well as in public spaces, and access to regular, safe public transport must be ensured

c)     One-stop, 24-hour crisis centres and safe shelters must be instituted in each police district for women survivors of violence

d)    Compensation and rehabilitation be ensured for survivors of rape and acid attacks

e)    Gender-sensitive police and prosecutorial procedures must be strictly followed, and the number of judges and courts expanded to ensure speedy justice in every case

f)      Women’s Reservation Bill pending in the Lok Sabha be enacted

g)     Code of Conduct be adopted to disqualify electoral candidates who have committed offences of gender-related violence, end misogynist comments and behaviour in the Lok Sabha, and ensure zero tolerance of moral policing by State/non-State actors

h)    Special Tribunals be set up to ensure justice in long-pending cases of custodial rapes  

 

8.     Federal Restructuring and Reorganisation of States

a)     Backward states and regions must be granted special status and provided with all kinds of institutional support to end regional disparity

b)    Set up Second States Reorganisation Commission for sympathetic and holistic consideration of various statehood demands

c)     Implement Article 244 A to ensure Autonomous State status for Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts

 

9.     Electoral, Legal and Police Reforms

a)     Introduce proportional representation in elections, stop corporate funding and ensure level playing field for all parties and contestants

b)    Strengthen RTI, enact Jan Lokpal legislation to provide for a powerful and autonomous anti-corruption watchdog, bringing all levels of the state including ministers, bureaucrats, the armed forces and the judiciary, corporate houses, media organisations and NGOs within its ambit

c)     Withdraw the controversial ‘Aadhar’ scheme and ‘cash transfer’ plans

d)    Policing must be thoroughly overhauled to stop human rights violations and atrocities on peaceful democratic activities and struggles

e)    The NIA and IB must be made accountable to Parliament and the operation of all kinds of security forces and intelligence agencies must follow the letter and spirit of the Constitution and the tenets of the rule of law

f)      The jail manual must be updated and strictly enforced, bails should be made the norm to stop overcrowding in jails and make sure that people do not spend years in jail without conviction

g)     Death penalty should be done away with, and life imprisonment declared as the highest degree of punishment

 

10.                         Reorient India’s Foreign Policy Ensuring Independence and Friendly Relations

a)     Indian foreign policy must be freed from the interests and priorities of US foreign policy

b)    India must have friendly relations and close cooperation with all neighbouring countries, big or small

c)     India must play a pro-active role to bring all perpetrators of war crimes to justice

d)    India must work relentlessly for removal of all foreign military bases in the world

 

Friends,

We appeal to you to vote for CPI(ML) candidates in the 2014 LS polls, to ensure that the voices of people’s resistance can resound in Parliament, and challenge the regime of plunder and corruption. Resist the devious design of the forces of corporate and communal fascism, and strengthen the democratic unity and struggles of the people by all means for a better tomorrow.

 

–         CPI(ML) Liberation

 

Fix Prices, Ensure Work, Ensure Full Wages for Work!

Change the Regime and Rule of Corruption and Plunder!

Down With Communal Poison, Ensure Peace and Justice!

Save Farmland, Agriculture, Farmers, End the Regime of Corporate Loot!

Half the Population Demands – Safety, Dignity, and Freedom! 

We Want Employment and Electricity, Rations and Housing, Not Liquor!

 

 

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Statement by More than 200 Indians condemning Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act #LGBTQ

President Yoweri Museveni, Members of Parliament of Uganda,

 

and the People of Uganda

 

English: Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

English: Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Through Ms Elizabeth Napeyok, High Commissioner,
Ugandan High Commission in New Delhi, India

C- 14, ANAND NIKETAN,

 

New Delhi – 110021

 

Phone No: 011-49363636

 

Fax No: 011 – 49363649

 

 

 


We register here our strong condemnation of President Museveni’s signing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009 into law. The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 violates the basic human rights of the kuchus of Uganda, impeding their right to live and love without harm to others, in enjoyment of the rights of freedom and equality guaranteed by the Ugandan Constitution. In the face of this severe blow to the struggle for universal human rights, we reassert our solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, disabled and HIV-affected people of Uganda, and of all 36 of Africa’s 55 countries where same-sex relations are illegal. We write as citizens of India, also a former British colony grappling with the multiple legacies of colonialism, of which the inheritance of homophobic laws is only one. We too have been told that homosexuality is a ‘Western import’ that is alien to our culture. This claim flies in the face of a wealth of evidence of same-sex love and desire in our histories and cultures. It is a matter of fact that same-sex love in our cultures, and in parts of Africa including Uganda, was accepted, and in some contexts, celebrated until the advent of the colonial experience. It is a claim that, moreover, is contradicted by the fact that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, represents the most aggressive institutionalisation of the criminalisation of homosexuality in the history of the Indian subcontinent. It is this legislative initiative of an unrepresentative colonial state that was then replicated in only slightly modified forms in other colonies of the British state, including Uganda. It is homophobia, rather than homosexuality that is a colonial legacy. Today, we are engaged, along with our counterparts in other ex-British colonies, in an ongoing struggle against this legacy of colonialism, a struggle in which we have relied primarily on the activist labours of our people and on the moral and legal commitments of laws and Constitutions that we have given unto ourselves. 

As a post-colonial state that is proud of its hard-won independence, we understand, share and support Uganda’s commitment to realising and maintaining democratic decision making processes, in line with your Constitution and in the exercise of your sovereignty, unimpeded by the external world.

 

In this context, we are concerned by numerous analyses and critical commentaries that have shown the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 is itself an externally sponsored initiative, drafted with considerable encouragement and advice from US-based evangelicals whose moral, theological and political agendas do not prioritise, or rather undermine the welfare of the entirety of Uganda’s people. In this context it is important to emphasise that the Act disregards and devalues the lives of Uganda’s own people. We urge you to listen to those brave Ugandan voices in every walk of life who have stood up for basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people in Uganda without regard to considerations of tribe, region, religion, sex, nationality, disability, or sexuality.

 

We reach out in solidarity against attempts at imperialist control over our political, moral, ethical and cultural lives. The irony of history is that the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014, which is an instance of such attempts at control, is being hailed as evidence of the expression of sovereignty. To recognise the rights of all Ugandans to lives of dignity, equality and freedom of expression and assembly, by immediately repealing the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 would be the true assertion of sovereignty.

 

Signed:

  1. A. Mani, University of Calcutta, Kolkata*
  2. Aarthi Pai, CASAM, SANGRAM, Bangalore
  3. Abhi Tam, Hyderabad
  4. Abhijit Majumder, Fellow, InStem-NCBS, Bangalore
  5. Abhishek Divyam, Guwahati
  6. Achintya Prahlad
  7. Adam Fernandes, Mumbai
  8. Aditi, TISS, Mumbai
  9. Aditya Narvekar, Navi Mumbai
  10. Aiswarya J
  11. Akhil Kumar, Youth Ki Awaaz, New Delhi
  12. Akshata Ravi, Mumbai
  13. Amborish Roychoudhury, Mumbai
  14. Amritananda Chakravorty, Lawyers Collective, New Delhi
  15. Anand Pendharkar, Mumbai
  16. Ananya Dutta Roy, Youth for Equality, Silchar
  17. Andy Silveira, Hyderabad
  18. Ann Ninan, India
  19. Anshuman Das, Cuttack
  20. Anurag Nair, Bangalore
  21. Aravind Chandrasekaran, Chennai
  22. Aravindh C., Trichy
  23. Archana Shetty, Bangalore
  24. Arunima Dey, Mumbai
  25. Arushi Singh, Rights Activist, Goa
  26. Ashitosh, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  27. Ashwitha, Secondary School Teacher, Mumbai
  28. Association of Transgender/Hijra in Bengal, Kolkata
  29. AUD Queer Collective, New Delhi
  30. Avinash Matta, Hyderabad
  31. Bharat, New Delhi
  32. Brenda Lias, Orlando, Florida, USA
  33. C Moulee, Orinam, Chennai
  34. Chanakya, India
  35. Chayanika Shah, Member, LABIA, Bombay
  36. ChemsEddine HAKIMI, Algiers, Algeria
  37. Chhandita Chakravarty, Hyderabad
  38. Chiranjoy, Guwahati
  39. Citizens’ Collective against Sexual Assault, New Delhi
  40. CREA, New Delhi
  41. Cynthia Tiphagne, Sudhathra, Madurai
  42. Danny Bhotia, New Delhi
  43. Deep Nand, Mumbai
  44. Deepak, Thrissur
  45. Deeptaarko Dutto, Malda
  46. Deepti Murali, Mumbai
  47. Deepti Sharma, New Delhi
  48. Deya Bhattachaya, Femin Ijtihad, Calcutta
  49. Dhamini Ratnam, Journalist, Mumbai
  50. Dolly Koshy, Secular Humanist, Bengaluru
  51. Dr. Gilles DENIZOT, Chennai
  52. Dr. S. Rajgopal, Coimbatore
  53. Felix, Orinam, Chennai
  54. Garima Sharma, Mumbai
  55. Gayatri Chawla, Patna
  56. Gayatri Menon, Bangalore
  57. Gayatri Sekar, Chennai
  58. Goutam Sahoo, Bhubaneswar
  59. Gowthaman Ranganathan, Lawyer, Bangalore
  60. Gulshan Kumar Mittal, Guwahati
  61. Hari Menon, Bangalore
  62. Hariharan, Chennai
  63. Harish Iyer, Equal Rights Campaigner, Mumbai
  64. Harshavardhan Goel, Student at the National Law School of India, Bangalore
  65. Henri Tiphagne, Convenor, WGHR, New Delhi
  66. Himangshu Kalita, Guwahati
  67. India HIV/AIDS Alliance, New Delhi
  68. Isha Singh Sawhney, freelance journalist, New Delhi
  69. Janani Vaidya,
  70. Jaya Sharma, New Delhi
  71. Jayant Iyer, Bangalore
  72. Jayesh Gopi, Mumbai
  73. K Rahul Sharma, New Delhi
  74. Kabi S, Bombay
  75. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Feminist and Human Rights Activist, Mumbai
  76. Karishma Dorai, Mumbai
  77. Karthik Umapathi, Chennai
  78. Karuna Nundy, Advocate, Supreme Court of India, New Delhi
  79. Kaveri R I, LesBiT, Hyderabad
  80. Kaveri, India
  81. Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA, New Delhi
  82. Kavita Srivastava, Jaipur
  83. Kavya Murthy, Bangalore
  84. Ketaki, Delhi
  85. Keval Patvi, Mumbai
  86. Kiran Shaheen, Media Action and Research Group, New Delhi
  87. Krishna B, Karur, Tamil Nadu
  88. Kunal Kochhar, Panchkula
  89. L Ramakrishnan, public health professional, Chennai
  90. LABIA Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Bombay
  91. Lena Ganesh
  92. Lenin, New Delhi
  93. Lesley Esteves, Queer Rights Activist, New Delhi
  94. Linda Dale, Leek Staffordshire, UK
  95. Madhana RNR, Lancaster, PA, USA
  96. Maisnam Arnapal, Delhi University, New Delhi
  97. Maksoom Ali, Pahal Foundation, Faridabad
  98. Mamatha Karollil, Ambedkar University, New Delhi
  99. Manak Matiyani, Delhi Queer Pride, Community-The Youth Collective, New Delhi
  100. Manojkiran C, Chennai
  101. Mario da Penha, Mumbai
  102. Maya Sharma, Vikalp (Women’s Group), Baroda
  103. Mayur Suresh, Lawyer, Bangalore
  104. Meena Seshu, Director, Sangram, Sangli
  105. Minal Hajratwala, Bangalore
  106. Mohnish Malhotra, Queer Rights Activist, New Delhi
  107. Monica Narula, New Delhi
  108. Mridul Dudeja, Mumbai
  109. N. Jayaram, Journalist, Bangalore
  110. Namrata Bajaj, Mumbai
  111. Nandini Rao, New Delhi
  112. Neal Sen, Youth for Social Change, Mumbai
  113. Nuzhat Nasreen, Student
  114. Oishik Sircar, Academic and Lawyer, Kolkata
  115. Orinam, Chennai
  116. Padmini Baruah, WHaQ, Bangalore
  117. Pankaj Nanda, Delhi
  118. Paroma Mukherjee, Photographer, New Delhi
  119. Partners for Law in Development, New Delhi
  120. Pawan Dhall, Varta, Kolkata
  121. Ponni Arasu, Chennai
  122. Pramada Menon, Gurgaon
  123. Prasanna R, Orinam, Chennai
  124. Pratik Bahekar, Mumbai
  125. Priyank Verma, Mumbai
  126. Pronoy Rai, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL, USA
  127. Punita Gupta, Photographer, Mumbai
  128. Purwa Bharadwaj, Delhi
  129. Rachit Sai Barak, Media Professional, New Delhi
  130. Rafiul Alom Rahman, DU Queer Collective, New Delhi
  131. Rahil Chatterjee, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
  132. Rahul Patel
  133. Raj Patel, Goa
  134. Rajendra Parihar, University of Delhi, New Delhi
  135. Ram Chakraborty, Kolkata
  136. Ranjana Padhi, New Delhi
  137. Ranjita Sinha, Kolkata
  138. Regina Hansda, University of Cambridge, UK
  139. Richa Jha, India
  140. Ricky Patel, London, UK
  141. Robin Bose, Chennai
  142. Rohit K Dasgupta, University of the Arts, London, UK
  143. Ronald, Mumbai
  144. Roshni Sen, Youth for Social Change, Mumbai
  145. Rupa Kanapathipillai, Australia
  146. Ryan Figueiredo, International Planned Parenthood Federation, South Asia Office, New Delhi
  147. Sadia Saeed, Delhi
  148. Samira Obeid, University of South Florida, Florida, USA
  149. Samraj Kundi, Park Surgery, Middlesbrough, UK
  150. Sandhya Luther, India/USA
  151. Sapan Parekh, Mumbai
  152. Saptarshi Mandal, Lawyer, New Delhi
  153. Sarabjeet Singh, Mumbai
  154. Sathya Bose, just a lover of equality, Mumbai
  155. Satnam Kaur, Saheli, New Delhi
  156. Satya, Sampoorna [For Trans* Indians – By Trans* Indians – Across the Globe], India
  157. Saurabh Bondre, Mumbai
  158. Saurabh Shabdik, Silchar
  159. Sayan Bhattacharya, Kolkata
  160. Shalini Krishan, New Delhi
  161. Shambhavi Madhan, Chennai
  162. Sharmi Surianarain, African Leadership Academy, Johannesburg, South Africa
  163. Sharmila C, India
  164. Shilpa Ahluwalia, Professional Social Worker
  165. Shiv Sahoo, New Delhi
  166. Shiva Karthik, Preston, United Kingdom
  167. Shobhna S. Kumar, Mumbai
  168. Shreyas Kumari, Santa Clara, USA
  169. Shridhar Sadasivan, Orinam, Chennai
  170. Shrinkhla Agrawal
  171. Shruti Gautam, Delhi
  172. Shubham Bose Roy, Delhi Queer Pride Committee, New Delhi
  173. Sibi Mathen, Yaariyan and Queer Azaadi Mumbai, Mumbai
  174. Siddhant, Mumbai
  175. Smriti Nevatia, writer, feminist, Mumbai
  176. Smruthi Narayan, LGBT individual and activist, Hyderabad
  177. Sonal Sharma, Researcher, Ambedkar University, New Delhi
  178. Sonia Singhal, Mumbai
  179. Soorya Sriram, Humanist, Chennai
  180. Soumya Tejas, Campaigner at Must Bol, New Delhi
  181. Sreekala MG, New Delhi
  182. Subhankar Das, Punjab
  183. Sudeepthi, Chennai
  184. Suhas Vasudev, New Delhi
  185. Sumathi. N, Bangalore
  186. Sundar Jeyaraman,
  187. Suneeta Dhar, India
  188. Sunil Mohan, Bangalore
  189. Sushil Rathi, Kharagpur
  190. Swati, Boston, MA, USA
  191. Sylvester Merchant, Lakshya Trust, Gujarat
  192. Tanushree Gangopadhyay, Ahmedabad
  193. Tanya Joshua, Chennai
  194. TARSHI, New Delhi
  195. Thaddeus Alfonso, Goa
  196. Udayan Dhar, Diversity Consultant at Mingle, Mumbai
  197. Uma V Chandru, PUCL-BLR Member, Bangalore
  198. Vaasu, Mumbai
  199. Vic Advani Friman, India/Sweden
  200. Vihang Ghalsasi, Heidelberg, Germany
  201. Vikram S, Chennai
  202. Vinay Chandran, Executive Director, Swabhava Trust, Bangalore
  203. Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, India
  204. Yadavendra Singh, India HIV/AIDS Alliance, New Delhi
  205. Zoya Chhabra

 

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Homosexuality is not a disease, psychiatrists say

English: Gender symbols, sexual orientation: h...

English: Gender symbols, sexual orientation: heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality. Česky: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

,TNN | Feb 7, 2014, 03.03 AM IST

 

 

 

MUMBAI: Homosexuality is not a mental illness or disease, the country’s psychiatrists said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS), an umbrella body for psychiatrists across the country, said this in response to the furore over its former president Dr Indira Sharma’s statement on homosexuality last month.

Dr Sharma had said (TOI, January 19), “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 is a private matter.”

The lesbian-gay community had taken up the matter with the IPS. “Based on existing scientific evidence and good practice guidelines from the field of psychiatry, the Indian Psychiatric Society would like to state that there is no evidence to substantiate the belief that homosexuality is a mental illness or a disease,” said the statement by IPS president Dr T V Asokan and general secretary N N Raju.

The note added that the IPS would issue a detailed statement later. Dr Raju told TOI on Thursday that the majority had spoken. “Now that we have stated that homosexuality isn’t a mental illness, it’s no longer in the purview of psychiatrists,” he said, adding that views changed over time. “A few decades back, hypertension was considered a mental illness, and so was hyperthyroidism,” he said.

Dr Sharma, who heads the psychiatry department at Banaras Hindu University, wrote to TOI that she had given a talk on homosexuality at the IPS annual conference held in Pune in January. “I only said homosexuality is a social issue. Sexual orientation cannot be changed by enacting laws or by punitive measures. It has to come from within. The media has a responsibility to create awareness regarding society’s view on sexual orientation, whether it approves or disapproves it,” she said, adding that her comment was neutral.

Read more here – http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Homosexuality-is-not-a-disease-psychiatrists-say/articleshow/29965430.cms

 

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Sangh View on HomoSexuality and #Sec377 #LGBTQ

Why Article 377 be preserved
Anandshankar Pandya

 

RSS Flag

RSS Flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The recent bold stand taken by the Supreme Court on gay sex rejecting UPA government’s review plea is a milestone in preserving the values of the country. The Court had earlier also upheld Article 377, which prescribes life sentence to homosexual couples calling it unnatural and a great crime.

 

The Homosexuals call Article 377 as violation of their fundamental rights. Hence the question arises, whether contacting AIDS through gay activities, engaging in prostitution, earning money through corruption or smoking and drinking are fundamental rights? In the name of democratic tolerance, West has been sowing the seeds of immoral sex and debauchery. There is saying ‘way to hall is paved with good intentions, this is what is happening today.

 

How long a society with such degraded fundamental rights can survive? India with its urdhvagami (rising up) sanskriti has survived for 5000 years when many great civilisations have gone to oblivion. Indian culture shows the path of eternal bliss instead of short term sensual pleasures. And this is the message of India to the world.

 

Fundamental rights are those which uplift mankind instead of degrading it. Many civilisations based on sensual pleasure are today nowhere in existence. In western countries the supreme aim of life is enjoying all the carnal pleasures to the maximum. They have no concept of self control (Atma Saiyam, and indriya nigrah) After all what is homosexuality. It is acquiring maximum pleasure in a sexual act. There is no love and no idealism. In the West each generation wants more and more sexual freedom, where wife swapping parties are eagerly sought after, people attending dance parties look for a one night partner. Should India imitate it?

 

People like LGBTS and others who want to have that sexual enjoyment facility in India, are working towards that end, with the result that dirty sex like rape is playing around in the country, with increasing rapidity. In India though kings kept many wives but for the common man one wife was always the norm. Hence in order to avoid any boredom in sex life of a couple Vatsyayan in his famous book Kamasutra, now being read in the West, has shown 84 postures in sexual activity for continuous and lively change in which no immorality is involved. Yet many such aberrations though tolerated are not part of Hinduism.

 

The majority country has rightly announced homosexuality an unnatural act. Even animals do not indulge in it. It is also immoral. Hence in many countries a marriage can be only between male and female only. Here a question arises that as in a same sex marriage one cannot procreate progeny they have to adopt a child from otherwise in old age, who is going to look after them. If everybody in the world goes for same sex marriage, no children will be born, hence this life style is against the plan of human existence.

 

Again a big drawback and anomaly of homosexuality is that it gives rise to a dangerous disease like AIDS and is an antithesis of family institution which in fact is the genesis of civilisation, and has produced great men like Buddha, Mahavira, Vivekananda, Ravindra-nath Tagore and many other noble persons around the world. Is this possible in a homosexual society? Hence it is obligatory to put a stop in further expansion of homosexuality. It is astonishing that 400 institutions are engaged in removing Article 377 but none is interested in eradicating drinking, smoking, prostitution etc. because this is an age of exuberant freedom of sex which is against the Hindu way of life in which self restraint is the aim of life giving permanent happiness and bliss.

 

Rishis ordained brahma-charya ashram in which a student has to lead a sex free life for 25 years, resulting in great personal velour and mental power. They could recite the whole Vedas by memory. According to Hinduism self restraint (atmasaiyam) is the basis of all progress. That is why Indians going to America have progressed there in all walks of life. President Obama had to say, ‘I want more and more Indians to settle in America and help in its progress’. Greek visitor Megasthenese and Chinese visitor Faheyam have described in detail the glory of amasing wealth and spiritual advancement that was India.

 

In India family life is based on mutual faith, love and respect for the entire life. The couple derives great happiness from their children which same sex couple cannot comprehend. All this is due to the disciplined sex of Hinduism. According to Swami Vivekananda, India is a land of Dharma in which Bhaktiyog, Gyanyog and Karmayog emancipate a person’s life. Hence after a slavery of 700 hundred years when much of the wealth of India was looted and financial institutions destroyed and the country ultimately achieved independence through nonviolence of Mahatma Gandhi, then within a short span of 50 years only business community of India with decent family back ground, respected sexual habits and traditional genius generated immense wealth by establishing big industries and exporting its product abroad bringing valuable foreign exchange and subsequently also buying big foreign companies we have also preserved our moral character which unfortunately is under great pressure today from western culture. We hear disgusting stories of sexual adventures of famous political leaders of the America which we in India dare not indulge in.

 

Taking into account all these factors Supreme Court rightly wants to preserve the Article 377Supreme Court rightly wants to preserve the Article 377.

 

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#India – My love is right. Your love is wrong” — Vikram Seth #Sec377 #LGBTQ

To not be able to love the one you love is to have your life wrenched away, says Vikram Seth

Vikram Seth  December 20, 2013 |
Embedded image permalink

To not be able to love the one you love is to have your life wrenched away, says Vikram Seth on gay rights.

1

Of all the cruelties that we as human beings can visit on one another, one of the most cruel is to say:

“You shall not love or make love with the person you love, not because of excessive youth or because of unwillingness, but because he or she comes from a different religion, a different caste, the same village, the same gender.

You may say you love each other, that you are happy with each other, that you give each other solace and courage and delight, but your love disgusts me. It runs counter to custom, it is an offence in law, it is against the order of nature, it brings dishonour to our family, it will dilute our blood, it will bring about kali-yuga, it will corrupt everyone around you, it is an abomination in the sight of the Lord. It must be forbidden.

You may say you love each other, but I do not care. No, I cannot turn away and simply let you live your life in peace and happiness. I must do something about it. I will indeed do something about it. No, you have not harmed me, but I will harm you. I will disown you, I will treat you with contempt, I will make you an outcaste or a criminal, I will lock you up. I will break your legs, I will fling acid in your face, I will hang you from a crane, I will stone you to death.

If the mob helps me, so much the better. If the law helps me, so much the better. If I can wrap myself in a flag, so much the better. If I can drape religion around myself, so much the better. But by one means or another, I will tear the two of you apart. It is fit and proper that I should do this.

I will do this because my Clan tells me to, my Panchayat tells me to, this Book tells me to, this Section of this Act tells me to, Civilisation itself tells me to, God himself tells me to.

No appeal to reason will touch me. No appeal to humanity will touch me. No appeal to Indian history or modern science will touch me. My brain is a science-free zone. My brain is a history-free zone. My brain is a fact-free zone.

This, at its core, is a simple matter. My love is right. Your love is wrong.”


What can one say to people who think this way? How can one understand their frame of mind-people who, not content with living their own lives, seek to destroy the life, the liberty, the happiness of others?

One bludgeons his daughter to death because she loves a boy from the same village. Another seeks to blackmail or send to prison two men because they love each other. Another forcibly separates a woman from her girlfriend and rapes her to teach her the right kind of sex.

Another hangs his son because he falls in love with a woman from a different caste. Another pours acid on his sister’s face because she falls in love outside her religion. The mindset is the same. All believe they are doing good, which is what gives them licence to do evil. What is in their heart is neither humanity, nor the love which, we are told, lies at the root of true religion. The poison comes not from within but from without: from the plausible priest, the blustering baba, the menacing mullah, the members of the khap panchayat, the political party that whips up the mob in the search for votes, the enforcers and justifiers of unjust laws.

3

We live on a small planet of an unimportant star. Life is not easy for anyone here. Loss and fear, failure and disappointment, pain and ill-health, doubt and death-even those who have escaped from poverty have no escape from these.

What makes life bearable is love-to love, to be loved, and-even after death or parting-to know that you have loved and been loved.

To not be able to love the one you love is to have your life wrenched away. To do this to someone else is to murder their soul.

No one who thinks about this-free from extraneous voices in their head-would ever, if they are human, dream of being so cruel.

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Supreme Court Judgement – #Sec377 and India Shining

DECEMBER 15, 2013
Guest Post by PRONOY RAI

It is 2004 all over again. India is shining. Such a difference a decade can make. BJP is on the verge of returning to power, Modi could be India’s next Prime Minister, and the many failures of the UPA could give a new lease of life to Hindutva, if it was dead at all. As India shines, the state (its judicial arm, in this case) has abandoned the queers, questioning their claim to the status of “minority”, rendering them vulnerable to brutality at the hands of the hetero-normative society and other arms of the state (police, for instance), in equal measures. Other minority groups, strangely, or perhaps not so strangely, fought against the claim to citizenship of a (sexual) minority group, decisively defeating them at the altar of justice.

Some of us queers, who stuck to every single word that was written in 2004 that went on to show how agrarian distress, farmer suicides, and saffronization of education didn’t quite add up to a shining India, were left puzzled by the reaction of the BJP to the Supreme Court verdict upholding section 377 in its original, pristine self. You’d think that the shrewd right-wing would take on the first opportunity to invoke a very obvious ancient Indian “culture of homosexuality” to make a progressive argument in favor of decriminalization. You’d assume that in a ravaging hunger to return to power, they would try to bring on board every single group that they can, maybe only later to abandon them, but at least carry them along through elections. Alas, no. For the BJP, India is still shining, and this shining confidence is perhaps sufficient to help them march into 7 Race Course Road, next year.

India is shining in a Brahmanical interpretation of Hinduism that in line with puritan Victorian, Christian arguments on morality, is unwilling to even read its own history. For the BJP, after all, India’s history was the history of struggles to form a Hindu right-wing political identity, not some obscure subaltern history of peasant and laborer struggles. In that moment, I wonder how the queer groups would have fought off a BJP argument against homosexuality, had we not had an ancient history to fall back upon. What one means here is that history or no history, arguments favoring rights can only be helped by historical facts and precedents, but history should not be a necessary ground to formulate an argument on human rights.

As India shines, we ask what’s next for the queer population. Right-wing queers (oh yes, they exist!) are feeling cheated at the hands of a party that was promising gains of surplus accumulation to the urban, middle class. Those of us on the “Left” have been left abandoned by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and other dalit, bahujan parties, whose causes were unwaveringly (and perhaps, sometimes, uncritically) supported by the out and proud jhola carriers. Mostly on account of the political decimation of the organized Left in India and partially on account of their assumed support for all minority rights, no one really cared about what the Left parties had to say. One can only be thankful for the fact that in such hard times, they did not come up with some archaic, orthodox argument favoring class conflicts over every other struggle! The show stoppers were, surprisingly, the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The support that has been extended by the Congress and AAP, without much consideration for how their support might potentially erode their vote banks, perhaps tell us one of the two things – there is more to party politics than Machiavellianism or that the Indian voting public probably does not care more or less about this issue than what the BJP makes it out to be. The recent public statement by Rajnath Singh now almost sounds irrational as he used queer politics to demonstrate the gap between India and Bharat. He’d probably hate this comparison, but his unwillingness to recognize the existence of queer people in provincial India makes him sound exactly like the former Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadanijad, who argued in his address at Columbia University that gays don’t exist in Iran! My broader point is that there perhaps might be politically conservative arguments that could be supported by some construction of logic, but BJP’s stand fails any test of reason, “oriental” or “western”!

A very interesting argument I have been reading, especially from the likes of the delightful Ashley Tellis, is that this is a bourgeois struggle. The argument almost leaves people like us, who opposed and will always continue to oppose the rise of NaMo, who stood and will always stand against the extremely violent Indian state that has been legitimating its survival on the bodies of dead Kashmiris, indigenous Chattisgarhis and Jharkhandis, and Nagas and Axomiyas, who have been fervent allies of women’s movements against barbaric violence, and who have been voracious supporters of campaigns like Right to Food and Work and whatnot, in a state of remorse. Did I not fulfil my duties as a politically conscious individual? Have I not passed some imagined test that confirms to the hetero-normative world that my consciousness is not just colored by my sexual orientation? Is there a chance we could be less harsh on ourselves and just choose one enemy to deal with, especially, when our struggles, in their broadest sense, will only make India (and Bharat) a relatively livable place for lesbians, gays, and trans-people?

So, let’s, first, just like in 2004, acknowledge that India is not shining and that we have just taken a giant leap backwards. Let’s, perhaps, also see that it is not yet the time to read movement for queer rights in India from the lens of Jasbir Puar’s “homonationalism”. Gay bodies are still bodies that symbolize death in India and are not bodies that are being productively mainstreamed into the processes of capitalist accumulation. Our struggle is more “primitive”. Our struggle will never end, but perhaps we must wonder what our next steps should be as we not just face an uncertain future in India, but a series of heartbreaks resulting from abandoning by fellow minority groups. As Gautam Bhan mentioned in his response to the media last week, “…you know what is daunting? What is daunting is when you’re 15 years old and are terrified of who you are. If we have survived that, the Supreme Court does not know what fear looks like. We know fear… in the long course of human history, dignity moves forward, and it will move forward in this case.” Amen to that.

Pronoy Rai is a PhD student in Geography at the University of Illinois. He can be reached on [email protected]

 

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#India- Examples of homosexuality in Hindu Mythology #Sec377 #LGBT

Jyothi Prabhakar, Bombay Times

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.

In many parts of India, these avatars are worshipped in those very forms till date, and have festivals dedicated to them…
ARDHANARISHWARA
Born out of the merging of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati. Ardhanarishwara means ‘The Lord who is half a woman, and half man’.
LORD AYYAPPA
Ayyappa, worshipped extensively down south, is born from the joining of Vishnu while he is Mohini, and Shiva. Mohini abandons Ayyappa in shame. But the Pandyan king Rajasekhara of Pantalam adopts the baby who grows up to be a great hero.
LORD VISHNU
BECOMES MOHINI
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
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.
ARJUNA
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.

A temple sculpture Ardhanarishwara
Mohini with Ayyappa and Shiva
Lord Shiva, entranced by Mohini – an artist’s version

 

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#India – Gay sex: There’s room for review #Sec377 #LGBT

,TNN | Dec 12, 2013, 02.27 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The last time the Supreme Court hit global headlines was in the Novartis case in April when it raised the bar for patents and made a life saving drug more accessible to cancer patients. The reason this time for making waves around the world could not have been worse. Among the repercussions of its ruling on Wednesday in the Section 377 case is that HIV/AIDS patients among LGBT persons may not any longer be able to access public health facilities without running the risk of being harassed or even arrested.While setting aside a 2009 Delhi high court verdict, the Supreme Court put its imprimatur on, what additional solicitor general Indira Jaising described as, the “medieval mindset” of this colonial vintage provision in the 1860 Indian Penal Code. If the mindset were indeed of the medieval age, it might not have been from India. Consider the graphic depiction of homosexuality in the medieval temples at Konark and Khajuraho. Adding to the irony is the coincidence that the Supreme Court restored the blanket ban on homosexuality just when Britain is set to recognize same-sex marriage.

Thanks to the retrograde decision made by the Supreme Court, India will no more be in the category of liberal democracies which decriminalized homosexuality. It was put in that honorable category barely four years ago by the high court, when it read down Section 377 in such a manner that this criminal provision applied only to non-consensual acts of homosexuality. In the high court’s judgment, Section 377 violated the fundamental rights of LGBT persons unless its ambit was confined to non-consensual sex.

By doing away with the device of reading down the provision, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Section 377 without any qualification. As a corollary, the police can now book gay persons even for consensual sex and they are liable to severe punishment extending to life imprisonment. After all, the provision expressly penalizes whoever “voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature”. The religious groups, which appealed against the high court decision and claimed that Section 377 was in tune with Indian culture, have had their way in the apex court.

In the tussle between “public morality” and “constitutional morality”, the Supreme Court tilted the balance in favor of the former. The high court had held a contrary view: “Moral indignation, howsoever strong, is not a valid basis for overriding individuals’

fundamental rights of dignity and privacy. In our scheme of things, constitutional morality must outweigh the argument of public morality, even if it be the majoritarian view.” Though this was the heart of the high court verdict, the Supreme Court glossed over the issue of constitutional morality.

Instead, in its parting observation, the Supreme Court passed the buck to Parliament saying it was “free to consider the desirability and propriety of deleting Section 377 IPC from the statute book or amend the same”. In effect, the Supreme Court put this highly sensitive matter in the domain of a popularly elected body which is even less likely to place constitutional morality above public morality. The situation that has ensued is reminiscent of the concern expressed by B R Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly: “Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic.”

Rather than giving due regard to constitutional morality, the Supreme Court held that the high court’s perception of homosexuality had been far too influenced by developments in other countries. “In its anxiety to protect the so-called rights of LGBT persons and to declare that Section 377 IPC violates the right to privacy, autonomy and dignity, the High

Court has extensively relied upon the judgments of other jurisdictions,” the Supreme Court said. Though these judgments shed light on the plight of sexual minorities, it said that they could not be “applied blindfolded” for deciding the constitutionality of Section 377.

For all the judicial precedents cited by it, the Supreme Court verdict is sketchy on why Section 377 in its pristine form did not violate any of the fundamental rights. On the face of it, Section 377 is so vaguely worded that even a heterosexual act that deviated from “the order of nature” – penile vaginal intercourse – was liable to attract punishment. Yet, all that the Supreme Court explained was that “while analyzing a provision the vagaries of language must be borne in mind and prior application of the law must be considered.” The message was, don’t go by just the language of the provision but by the manner it has been applied.

This is because the apex court accepted the contention of the religious groups that Section 377 had been sparingly used. It said that the high court had “overlooked that a miniscule fraction of the country’s population” constituted LGBT persons and that in 150 years less than 200 persons had been prosecuted for committing the offence. But then those statistics covered only the cases in which judgments had been delivered. They ignore the larger reality of LGBT persons being prone to moral policing, blackmail and other such misuse of Section 377. Indeed, there is much scope to review this surprisingly ill-thought out judgment.

 

 

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#India – Supreme Court makes homosexuality a crime again #Sec377 #LGBT

,TNN | Dec 12, 2013,

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday dealt a cruel blow to lakhs of homosexuals, many of whom had started living together after the Delhi high court decriminalized same-sex relationships four years ago, by making it a crime again, even if it is consensual and done between adults in private. The ‘crime’ will attract a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

The bench of Justices Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya reversed the Delhi HC’s 2009 verdict and held that the 150-year-old Section 377, criminalizing gay sex, “does not suffer from the vice of unconstitutionality”. The judgment would turn the clock back, and was being viewed in India and globally as a retrograde step. The possibility of police harassment of homosexuals could no longer be ruled out.

The bench said: “In the light of plain meaning and legislative history of the section, we hold that Section 377 IPC would apply irrespective of age and consent.” It added that the section does not discriminate any group with a particular sexual preference, a stand that was diametrically opposite to that by the Delhi HC.

“It is relevant to mention here that Section 377 IPC does not criminalize a particular people or identity or orientation. It merely identifies certain acts, which if committed, would constitute an offence. Such prohibition regulates sexual conduct regardless of gender identity and orientation,” Justices Singhvi said.

A crowd of gay activists, quite a few of whom were in advocate’s uniform, had waited inside a packed Court room No.1 in expectation of a positive verdict. At 10.30 am, Justice G S Singhvi, for whom it was the last day in office, sat with Chief Justice P Sathasivam (as is the tradition of honouring a judge on his last day).Three minutes later, Singhvi finished reading the concluding part of the 98-page judgment, and pronounced that the SC was overturning the HC verdict. Smiles turned into despair. A few of the activists cried loudly.

Mukhopadhaya said, adding “the said section does not suffer from any constitutional infirmity”. However, a clarification followed. The judges said, “Notwithstanding this verdict, the competent legislature shall be free to consider the desirability and propriety of deleting Section 377 IPC from the statute book or amend the same as per the suggestion made by the Attorney General.”

The AG, G E Vahanvati, had argued that a Group of Ministers, which looked into the issue relating to constitutionality of Section 377 IPC, has recommended that there was no error in the HC order – in other words, the government didn’t have a problem with the decriminalisation of gay sex – but the SC could take a final view.

Vahanvati had also said: “The declaration granted by the high court may not result in deletion of Section 377 IPC from the statute book, but a proviso (exception) would have to be added to clarify that nothing contained therein shall apply to any sexual activity between two consenting adults in private.” He had also stressed that the “court must take cognizance of the changing social values and reject the moral views prevalent in Britain in the 18th century.”

The court said though the Law Commission of Indian in its 172nd report recommended deletion of Section 377 and that the Centre has chosen not to challenge the Delhi HC verdict, “Parliament, which is undisputedly the representative body of the people of India, has not thought it proper to delete the provision.” Parliament has not amended the law either, it added.

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, enacted by British 153 years ago in 1860, terms consensual anal sex an “unnatural offence” and provides punishment equivalent to that for the offence of rape under Section 376. It even outlaws oral sex between man and woman, while holding that only penile-vaginal sex was not “against the order of nature”.

It says: “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 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.” It also explains that “penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.”

Allowing the appeals against the HC verdict, filed by a host of organizations whose arguments were tinged with religion-guided views, the bench upheld the constitutional validity of Section 377.

On July 2, 2009, the HC division bench of then Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar had declared “Section 377 IPC, insofar it criminalizes consensual sexual acts of adults in private, is violative of Articles 21 (right to life), 14 (right to equality), and 15 (non-discrimination on grounds of sex and gender) of the Constitution.”

But the Supreme Court said Naz Foundation, on whose petition the HC had given the ruling, had “miserably failed to furnish particulars of the incidents of discriminatory attitude exhibited by the state agencies towards sexual minorities and consequential denial of basic human rights to them.”

“While reading down Section 377, the division bench of the HC overlooked that a miniscule fraction of the country’s population constitute lesbians, gays, bisexuals or trans-genders and in the last more than 150 years less that 200 persons have been prosecuted for committing offence under Section 377 IPC and this cannot be made a sound basis for declaring the section ultra vires (violative of) the provisions of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution,” the apex court said.

Times View

This paper has consistently supported the decriminalization of consensual gay sex between adults. We wholeheartedly welcomed the Delhi high court’s decision in 2009 to amend Section 377 of the IPC as progressive and befitting of any modern, democratic society that recognizes the citizenry’s fundamental right to personal liberty and equality. It made India the 115th country to take the guilt out of homosexuality—which is what makes the Supreme Court’s judgment of Wednesday all the more regressive. It brings back a discriminatory law that was created over 150 years ago by our colonial masters.

It deals a body blow to the very idea of individual choice. It re-criminalizes homosexuality, which carries a maximum jail sentence of life, and gives the police one more excuse to harass, extort and jail law-abiding people whose only ‘crime’ is that they do not conform to the traditional view of sexuality. The government and our political parties need to correct this injustice. Over the past couple of years, the UPA has time and again criticized the courts for “judicial over-reach” and for invading executive and legislative turf; but such activism is due, at least in part, to our MPs and MLAs not doing their main job, which is to legislate. An amendment of 377 is something Parliament should have done on its own a long time ago; now that the SC has said it’s for the “competent legislature” to take a call, it shouldn’t waste any more time. From an electoral point of view, the LGBT community should be worth wooing for any socially liberal political party, given the ballpark estimate that about 7-13% of India’s adult population is gay. Whichever party moves first will almost certainly have the loyalty of this vote bank; it’ll also be doing the right thing.

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