India’s finally on the right side of history. Supreme Court has scrapped Section 377 of the IPC, decriminalizing the 158-year-old colonial law which criminalizes consensual gay sex. The last several days have been awash in rainbow colors. But this flood of support for the right to be yourself started out, way back in 2001, as a fight for access to health care for marginalized gay and transgender people. The road to the destination that we have reached today was full of impediments.

What is Section 377?

Section 377 refers to ‘unnatural offenses’ and 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 pay a fine.

I, being a citizen of the democratic country accept and agree that a nation has to run with a set of rules- we call it the constitution. But, being from a democratic country how could India miss a simple logic that rules were meant to be the same for all? Why some people were constantly harassed by police? Why certain part of our society, who were supposedly human beings, made believe that ‘homosexuality’ was a mental illness? Why this ‘community’ was given shock treatments for no fault of theirs? Why ‘the sexual preference of an individual become against the order of nature? What is this order of nature and who decided it – we heterosexuals?

The forces of darkness that ranged against the queer community: the godmen, the religious groups, the assorted cast of ravens. Egregiously shameful facts about human civilization is sex is a tool of control and oppression. The homosexual community needs to be part of the educational curriculum. People need to understand gender is what an individual is born with, sexual preference is what an individual chooses, period! It’s not a disease or some unnatural offence.

Between 2014 and 2016, there were 4,690 cases of persons being booked under Section 377 according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). I ask on what grounds? Because they loved other human beings like we the so-called’ flag-bearers of the society -the heterosexuals do? What was wrong here – they loved a human being of the same sex? Their sexual preference was different than ours? It’s us who had the problem not them. If they were questioned, I should be too and I identify myself as a heterosexual. Why is there even a need of this? We had to make peace, not them. We needed to change, not them. When in August 2017, the Supreme Court arrived at its landmark decision right to privacy as a fundamental right, a ray of optimism emerged that ‘sexual orientation is an essential attribute to privacy’.

We, the insensitive citizens owe a long-due apology to the LGBTQIA community for the atrocities they have suffered and survived. We have to sensitize ourselves towards each other. Decriminalizing gay sex is the first step towards creating a more equal society and still, amendments are required to give the community a dignified life. The inspiring message from the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment decriminalizing gay sex is that social morality that cannot trump constitutional morality. A transformative power to speak not just of equality on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity but on all that divides us is needed. A transformative power that forms constitutional morality is needed. This verdict leads to an end of heteronormative thinking. We still have a long way to go. Let’s accept ‘LOVE is LOVE’. A long due freedom was won in this historic judgment. Let those rainbow colors fly with dignity, with a sense of freedom.

377 verdict is the One ‘Progressive’ India will and should remember for long time.

Courtesy: The Hindu, The Economic Times

Veena Yayavaram

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