RADHIKA RAMASESHAN, THE TELEGRAPH
New Delhi, Dec. 13: BJP president Rajnath Singh today said his party “unambiguously” endorsed the re-criminalisation of gay sex — the first conclusive statement from the party that makes the legislative option difficult for the UPA.
“We will state (at an all-party meeting if it is called) that we support Section 377 because we believe that homosexuality is an unnatural act and cannot be supported,” Rajnath Singh told The Telegraph tonight.
The BJP has been fighting shy of articulating its position since the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Section 377 did not suffer from any constitutional infirmity.
The BJP has now dropped its circumspection, probably on the assessment that the gay community is not electorally significant and the party stands to suffer a dent in its traditional base if it is seen to be supporting “unnatural acts”.
The Congress is the only party that has so far come out unequivocally against Section 377. It is now up to the UPA to decide if it will float an ordinance and let the next government deal with the issue after six months.
BJP sources said Rajnath’s statement was a “carefully considered” view, influenced by political “realities” prevailing on the “ground” and not by “simulated discussions in TV studios”.
First, they said, the opinion of the RSS and its affiliates could not be ignored even if a section of the BJP wished to project a “liberal worldview”.
Second, the BJP had factored in the prospect of facing “brickbats” from the “secular-liberals”. “It is a flawed assumption that ratifying homosexuality is equal to being progressive and broad-minded. The present discourse has been largely generated by a niche of the elite, which reflects the Bharat-India divide,” a source said, ignoring questions on the harassment homosexuals go through in many towns and villages.
Another BJP leader said provincial India would not be persuaded by the argument that same sex was rooted in Hindu culture and mythology. “India is largely status-quoist. Fiction is fiction, the reality is different,” he said.
Given the opposition from not just Hindu clerics but those from Islam and Christianity, BJP sources said Sonia Gandhi and Rahul might have “erred” in feeling the “popular pulse” by openly speaking out against the Supreme Court judgment. “Maybe the Congress wished to deflect attention from its in-house problems but we wonder if religious leaders from other faiths would shower kudos on Sonia and Rahul,” a source said.
Privately, a section of the BJP did not concur with Rajnath. This section felt that there was nothing unnatural about homosexuality, and Section 377 should deal only with bestiality and forced acts. But nobody would go on record.