DO YOU SUPPORT SECTION 377- Part I

Do you support Section 377, the anti-LGBT law?  No!! How can any human with emotions support it?? ….

Do you?  Yes!! How can any human accept such a thing??

Funny but it is interesting to listen to people giving their viewpoints on this subject. Nationalization of the debate rested by the Supreme Court Of India has elusively raised the knowledge about this topic of the common man leading to people taking stands without knowing about what they are supporting or opposing!(except the fact that they support it or otherwise)Before the SC judgment, if you would’ve asked somebody about their viewpoint on Sec 377’s legality, constitutionality, morality, rationality, acceptance; I hope someone with some knowledge would have answered the questions differently and the most would accept their lack of knowledge, but now ask anyone, they are ready with their views. How can they not be, it’s shameful to be not having a ‘viewpoint’ (elusive, I said). I can draw an analogy to another nationally debated topic, It is like supporting Lokpal bill without knowing what it prescribes.

Like religion, public discourse takes among the following species: Believers(theists), Non Believers(atheists), Agnostics(not sure), Pan-theists(smarthaites, believe in everything said). At present, I am an agnostic and am not ashamed of it.

Now, what do the words LGBT mean?

L – Lesbian.  A lesbian is a female homosexual; a female who experiences romantic love or sexual attraction to other females.

G – Gay. A homosexual, especially a man.

B – Bisexual. Bisexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior towards both males and females

T – Transgender. Transgender is the state of one’s gender identity or gender expression not matching one’s assigned sex. (in which comes the ‘third sex’ as recognized by the SC- Hijra  etc.)

Image Source: http://orinam.net/377/

Image Source: http://orinam.net/377/

1. SECTION 377:

 “377. Unnatural offences: 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 term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offense described in this section.”

The Section is valid in law and applicable at present and is upheld to be constitutional by the SC judgment, though it’s acceptance and rationality are in question.

2. UN-NATURAL?

 The section uses the words “unnatural offences”, “intercourse against the order of the nature”. Another article titled “I am section 377” says that there is no standard to decide whether something is natural or un-natural and we can make a committee to decide on it (sarcastically, though). I find it absurd, to put it plainly.

If a couple is a lesbian couple, they surely would use a dildo (may be made of a natural material, but clearly not natural), or if they are gay, the so called ‘wrong hole’ would be used, which naturally is used for pushing things out of the body, not in.

But, I am not saying if it is un-natural, it should be banned. Aren’t we doing most of the things un-naturally? But, I see this as clear ignorance if someone says… “ismein un-natural kya hai?”.

3. GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT ENTER INSIDE THE BEDROOM OF THE PEOPLE:

 Political Science says, It would make the state an interventionist state. Wait a second, isn’t it not already?

Section 377 does not specifically target LGBT, it has it’s operation even on the heterosexual couples and the wife can complain if the husband tries to go the wrong way in. I am not offering any defense, but stating a fact which might go ignored.

I think it is a recent ‘legal’ debate and the government can take its time to reach a good solution and take a stand to be either neutral or active and is justified in doing so as it has a much greater responsibility and its actions create a much wider impact than us. But this should not last forever, people expect a lot from the government.

 4. WHAT DO THESE RIGHTS ENSURE?

 Another question that came up in my mind was whether the rights are demanded for the recognition of the LGBT community as acceptable in India so as to set a socially acceptable pattern of behavior as that of the heterosexuals?, or the rights are for legalizing the sexual relation between them banned by the Section 377?

I think if the relation is legalized and there is no socially acceptable behavioural pattern, in spite of the law, they would still be seen as socially deviant groups. And this can not be in any case achieved by legalizing such a relation, rather would create more obstructions in their way to social acceptability. Isn’t it the sense of social acceptability and social dignity they are fighting for?

Legal status is altogether a different topic which rarely concerns the common mass and is a point of notice for the police men which allegedly exploit them. So, for a change, at least try not to make a person feel uncomfortable or humiliated apparently belonging to the LGBT community standing next to you in public places. I’ve been taught by my family to respect the ‘Hijras’.

 5. YOU WANT RIGHTS? YOU HAVE A DUTY TO FIGHT FOR THEM:

 Government submission to the Supreme Court Of India stated that the gay population in India is estimated to be 25 lakhs. Mind you, gay population. If the rest of the community(L,B,T) is also counted in, we can estimate them to be around 50 lakhs. This makes them approximately 0.8% population of the country collectively.

No doubt, these people demand some rights as the citizens of India, but they need to fight harder if they want them. And this can only be accomplished through self-acceptance at the first level. It may sound rude, but plainly put, if you can not accept yourself, how will you expect others to accept you? Why live in those small ‘kotha(s)’ and ‘jhuggi(s)’ (slums). Come out, speak yourself out. You are a considerable part of the population. Why depend on some other educated people of the society to fight for you?

In a recent Kiss of Love campaign, a mere crowd of a few hundreds (to exaggerate the figure) drew a nation wide debate in the print as well as the electronic media. Even if 10% of the people of this 0.8% population come at the Ramlila Maidan, who can stop you to come into a real debate on 9 P.M.  shows rather than a short column entertainment story?

The government is the only authority to decide finally on the issue, but, on a personal level, I would like make myself clear through the words of the movie, 12 Angry Men, where the supposed protagonist says, “I’m not saying he’s not guilty. It’s just that I’m not sure”.

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3 Responses

  1. KARTIK SHARMA says:

    Well Anindya, first of all I want to thank you for reading the post and giving your precious time for the feedback. You have slightly misunderstood the context in which I mentioned the acts being ‘un-natural’. You took the support of the ancient texts. Well their presence or absence in past or present was not the rationale given by me. What I wanted to convey was that humans reproduce only by a heterosexual union. But at the same time I clarified that I do not oppose their ‘natural’ orientation which they get by birth.

    Secondly, you pointed out that giving legal status to their relation will at least save them the harassment. Well I would say that it will only change the harasser, not the harassment. Presently they are harassed by legal forces actively and passively by the social forces. Then they would be harassed by social forces actively. I say this not because I oppose them but because of the fact that society resists change. And that resistance increases manifold if it is of perception. Take the case of women rights movements.

    Thirdly, Yes they are forced into marriages they not aligned for. But I think it is also because of absence social acceptability to the relation of their alignment. That is why I advocate for mass movements at national level.

    Fourthly, why press on more for social acceptability rather than mere legal acceptance because it is the societal sphere where they want to flourish and progress as individuals. Their contact to legal sphere will always be minimal as compared to the former. Suppose a scenario where they would be allowed to marry, but people won’t accept them as their tenants, their customers at shops, friends at workplace, juniors at work, as their leaders. If they want to exist, I want to have them all of this and even more. But that needs ‘Social Acceptance’… And this is all i advocate for.

  2. anindya tripathi says:

    Also FIGHT HARDER? I am a female with ‘rights’ ‘education’ ‘label of morality by being straight and not a prostitute ‘. Still this society can not offer me a world where i have the right to live (safely). Legal “hollow words of wisdom” aside , if i can not get a safe environment and all my rights. (merely writing them on paper wont help). After so many efforts and fights. Do you really expect them to get it?

    the law has done nothing but aided in their ghettoization. And the ground reality is way different from your idealism.

    waiting for part 2.

  3. anindya tripathi says:

    Well, sir first of all this archaic law is based on English notions of sex, or ‘sexual intercourse’ (as you seem to have a penchant for technical words) , where anything that wasn’t ‘simple and missionary position of ‘putting things inside’ the ”right hole”.’ was considered ‘unnatural’. I do not question your legal understanding as it is much better than mine, but seriously using a ‘dildo’ or having anal sex is ‘not’ unnatural (atleast not in the way explained by you). Ancient Indian texts and pictographs have actually shown that it wasnt really unheard or unknown of.

    and I fail to understand how can it be an obstruction? (para 4) yes, they will be socially deviant (considered) , but if the relation is legalised , they can atleast get married. Have a life without social harassment, wont be forced into Normal ‘heterosexual’ marriages.

    one, they cant live with the person they love because the law wont allow it, and second when they succumb to family pressure and marry someone with whom they cant consumate their marriage… They again are the sufferers with two lives in jeopardy.

    just putting my point forward.

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