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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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Press Release – One year anniversary -Voices Against #Sec377 – 11.12.13: #NoGoingBack

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One year anniversary of the SC judgement

Today, the 11th of December 2014 marks the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to recriminalise the intimate lives of LGBT people and reintroduce Sec 377. The verdict saw an unprecedented mobilisation of our community and our allies, a publicly visible anger at the deep injustice done to us by the very institution we were looking up to, a passionate refusal to accept this verdict, and a strong resolve to fight this out to the very end.

Voices against Sec 377 marks one year since 11.12.13 when a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court overturned a historic, globally celebrated decision of the Delhi High court in Naz Foundation.

 

The Naz judgment had argued that, “if there is one constitutional tenet that can be said to be underlying theme of the Indian Constitution, it is that of ‘inclusiveness’.” It was a judgment that not only acknowledged the dignity, equality and rights of the queer community but restored to all Indians a measure of our constitution’s promise to us. It reminded us that discrimination, prejudice and violence are the same whether they take the form of homophobia, transphobia, casteism, communalism, ableism, sexism or classism.

 

Over the past year, incidents of violence, blackmail and the threat of various laws including Sec 377 being used against the queer community have been documented across the country. We mark this day to remind ourselves, the queer community, the public and the courts that we have not and will not forget. We mark this day to acknowledge that we are still here, standing strong to ensure that – no matter the law – discrimination and violence do not shape queer lives. We mark this day to refuse both that we are “miniscule” and that rights should ever be counted. We mark this day to promise to ourselves and to remind others: there is No Going Back.

 

Voices remains part of the curative petition pending in the Supreme Court challenging the decision of 11.12.13. We remain committed to seeing the legal fight against Sec 377 through to the end until our laws are once again unmarked by prejudice.

 

Events across Indian cities are marking the day in protest and some online

To mark this anniversary of injustice, there are protests being organised around the country, various events to mark the occasion and articles being written in the media. In addition, the LGBT community itself has created films, booklets and other art to mark the demand for justice, which asks for a repeal of sec 377. This page seeks to collate as many of these as possible.

Public Protests

  • Bengaluru : Town Hall, 5-7 pm, 11 Dec 2014
  • Chennai : Gandhi statue, Marina, 5 pm, 11 Dec 2014 [FB event page]
  • Hyderabad : Public Gardens, Nampally, 5-7 pm, 11 Dec 2014 [FB event page]
  • New Delhi : Rajghat, 4-6 pm, 11 Dec 2014 [FB event page]
  • Mumbai : Juhu beach, Shivaji Maharaj Statue, 7-9.30 pm, 11 Dec 2014 [FB event page]
  • Kolkata : College Street, 3 pm, 11 Dec 2014 [FB event page]
  • Chandigarh : Plaza Fountain, Sector 17, 5 pm, 11 Dec 2014 [FB event page]
  • Kolkata : Ranu Chhaya Manch, 4 pm, 12 Dec 2014 [FB event page]
  • Guwahati : opp Dighalipukhuri Park, 4 pm, 14 Dec 2014 [FB event page]
  • Hassan : Govt High School grounds to Dist playground, 12 noon, 14 Dec 2014 [FB event page]

Other events

  • New Delhi : A public hearing about s 377 and its effects, organised by Alliance India, 11 am – 5.30 pm, 11 Dec 2014 [FB event page]
  • Online : an online protest campaign [FB event page]
  • Online : ‘Doodle your protest’ campaign, by Varta [Website]

 

Dignity First – a booklet

A booklet titled ‘Dignity First’, to mark one year of resistance to re-criminalisation of LGBT lives, published by CSMR, Bengaluru, analyses the failures of the judgment, tracks the legal struggle, maps the continuing and brave resistance by the LGBT community to re-criminalisation, catalogues cases filed under Section 377 and  concludes with a strong demand that the Government must repeal Section 377 as it is  the bounden responsibility of the Government, sworn to uphold the Constitution to recognized LGBT persons as full moral citizens.

The book can be viewed and downloaded from here.

Dignity First – a film

A short film, titled ‘Dignity First’ has been created, which seeks to capture the anger of the community and its allies at the judgement.

Dignity First from Zeytoon Films on Vimeo.

Please download, share and embed the video !

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Queer Muslims Observe a Separate, Unequal Ramadan #LGBTQ

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The LGBTQ Muslim community is gaining notice in the arts, but mainstream acceptance in their communities lags behind, particularly at mosques. “I don’t go because of that feeling that I cannot be my full self,” says one queer Muslim.

 

Queer Muslim

 

Credit: Charles Roffey on Flickr, under Creative Commons

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NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)–Kaamila Mohamed, Nabil K. and S. Syed have three things in common: they’re Muslim, queer and rarely found at mosques.

The Islamic month of Ramadan is coming to an end and none of them has consistently attended prayers at mosques as is often done during this spiritual month. The reason: they do not feel very welcome.

“I don’t go because of that feeling that I cannot be my full self,” said Mohamed in a recent phone interview from Boston. “I have to constantly be questioning and navigating whether it is safe to be open about who I am. That is an extremely psychologically draining experience and it bars me from being a full participant and community member” in Muslim spaces.

The LGBTQ Muslim community around the world has attracted attention in the arts and media lately. Earlier this month “Coming Out Muslim: Radical Acts of Love” was staged in New York in two performances. The play dramatizes the struggles of queer Muslims to reconcile the beliefs of their families and homelands with their own existences as LGBTQ Muslims. In a poetic narrative-based format, Terna Tilley-Giado and co-creator Wazina Zondon shared their stories as coming out Muslims.

But breaking that kind of artistic ground doesn’t mean an openly bisexual woman such as Mohamed feels comfortable or accepted in her own community or in mosques.

As in any Abrahamic religion, homosexuality is forbidden in Islam and subject to legal punishment in many Muslim countries, though discrimination against the LGBTQ community happens all over the world, including the United States.

Sexual orientation is barely, if at all, addressed in mosques, said queer Muslims who spoke to Women’s eNews. At worst, you may hear some form of condemnation; at best, religious leaders and community members will stay silent.

None of the imams contacted by Women’s eNews wished to comment on the issue or they didn’t reply to an interview request.

Building Own Community

Instead of seeking out mainstream acceptance, Mohamed has been building her own Muslim community in Boston “with other people who share a queer identity.”

Mohamed, 25, is co-coordinator of Queer Muslims of Boston (QMOB), a space for Muslims who identify as LGBT, Queer. The group meets once a month to discuss and share with each other. On July 19, the group hosted an iftar–the evening meal when Muslims break their fast at the time of sunset –at a member’s home.

“This time we talked about how Ramadan is going, the challenges, the successes, where we are at spiritually. It was a time to be vulnerable and to share with each other,” Mohamed said.

Mohamed started to come out when she was 19. “Some members of my family are incredibly accepting and supportive and there are others members of my family that I am estranged from,” she said.

Aside from some of her closest relatives Mohamed has had no difficulty being openly bisexual with the rest of the Muslim community. “Among Muslims of my age, I have peers and friends that are straight and who are amazing allies and supporters.”

At the same time, she speaks of a “disconnect” between the tolerance displayed by individuals and the institutional atmosphere of mosques where homophobia can go unchecked or unchallenged. “Unless there is a strong stance of welcoming acceptance and safety in those spaces, for many queer Muslims it will continue to be a place where people feel they cannot be out about who they are or in other cases may not feel they can participate in their spiritual life in these spaces.”

“I am out” said Mohamed when asked if she ever hides her sexual identity. Yet she also said she “plays it safe” in mosques and doesn’t bring the topic up.

Ramadan will end on July 27 in the United States. On July 28, Mohamed plans to go to a mosque for the Eid prayer that seals the month of fast and spiritual rejuvenation. “I will be going with a few of the queer Muslim folks,” she said.

Doubly Marginalized

“I think continuing to affirm our existence in this world is the biggest issue that we are facing,” said Mohamed, adding that this group is doubly marginalized. While they don’t always feel welcome by mainstream Muslims, they are also questioned by the mainstream LGBTQ community, who often find it surprising for someone to be queer and Muslim.

S. Syed, who doesn’t want her full name to be used, shares that feeling of double marginalization. One of the biggest challenges, she said in a phone interview, is the perception that being queer and Muslim is mutually exclusive.

Syed, who is also 25, lives in Chicago with her family after having studied in Boston, where she found out about QMOB. So far she has only came out to her father, about two years ago. They both decided she should not come out to her mother, who still does not know.

Since returning to the country earlier this month from an internship in Chile with an LGBTQ rights group, she has spent most of Ramadan with her family; from pre-dawn breakfast to iftar in the evenings.

The LGBTQ Muslim community in Chicago is not as developed as the one in Boston, she said, so she and some friends are trying to start a group based on the model of Boston.

Syed, who started to come out at 22, says her liberal interpretation of the Quran means she never felt the need to leave Islam to be herself. “I have adapted my faith to my life.” She adds that her sexual identity “was about to be more of a disappointment for my family than it was for God.”

Mosques a Rarity

Like Mohamed, Syed rarely goes to mosques. “I don’t need a mosque to believe in Islam. You can pray anywhere and that’s the beauty of it.”

She added that she never felt welcomed in prayer spaces, especially as a woman. “I feel the women’s sectionis not being taken care of. I feel like a second-class Muslim.”

For now, most of her daily interactions are with family members or other queer people. She would like to see a conversation start with the rest of the Muslim community, but nothing too big or too sudden. “We would have to start small. Talking about sexuality within your own family should come first before you can move on into a larger group.”

Syed appreciates the recent media coverage of queer Muslims for showing it’s possible to be queer and Muslim. “I think it is great publicity because it shows that you don’t have to leave your religion because of your orientation.”

Nabil K. has also spent most of his Ramadan with his family. “I have only been to the mosque one or two times.”

Nabil K., who doesn’t want his full name to be used, says he is “trying to get better at praying five times a day” during the spiritual month.

His family members know about his sexual orientation but “some of them are in denial about it,” he said.

The 28-year-old serves as the co-coordinator of QMOB in Boston. He describes the LGBTQ Muslim community as “apart” from the rest of the Muslims.

“We are trying to change that,” he said. One of QMOB’s goals is to work on visibility and outreach among mainstream Muslims in the coming year, including older generations.

Elizabeth Kuhr contributed reporting to this article.

Read more here- http://womensenews.org/story/lesbian-and-transgender/140723/queer-muslims-observe-separate-unequal-ramadan#.U9JD2_mSwgg

 

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