Yet another Revolution- Equality of LGBT in India
The most taboo topic of our current Indian society- homosexuality. Talking about gay rights and preaching for LGBT acceptance is more or less a sin according to the people around us. This absurd idea is nothing but absurd. Looking back, women empowerment was an absurd idea 20 years ago. Men scoffed upon the idea of women working paid wages, voting, voicing out opinions and paving their own path independently.
Leaders and activists like Margaret “Gretta” cousins, Sunitha Krishnan, Jyotiba Phule, and Subodh Markandeya established conferences, founded schools, formed initiatives and brought about an awareness that changed the mentality of the people. They brought about a revolution. Equality of all sexual orientation is what I believe is yet another revolution in which you and I have a great deal to contribute.
There are three different types of sexual orientation- homosexuality, bisexuality, and heterosexuality within the homosexual-heterosexual continuum. Homosexuality is the sexual or romantic attraction towards the same gender. The common terms one might have heard are gay and lesbian.
Homosexuality can be traced back to 9660 BE in the arts on Mesolithic rocks of Sicily. In the Bronze and Neolithic age, figurines depicted a third sex. It can be established that homosexuality has been prevalent from the ancient times. What might be surprising is the position of Hinduism on the issue of homosexuality. The Sanskrit literature uses the term Trtiya Prakrti to describe the third gender. The walls of temples has sculptures and artwork of erotic images of sexual intercourse between the members of the same sex. Some scholars interpreted saying that devotees are being exhorted to leave these sexual thoughts aside before entering the sacred sanctorum. Others believe that hidden in these images is Tantric geometry while some say they are fertile ceremonies. Indian epics like Mahabharata had characters like Shikhandi, who was born a woman but transformed into a man to fulfill his duty.
Is this not the concept of transgender? Another folklore of South India tells that Pandavas were told to sacrifice their son Aravan to win the war. When Aravan refused to die a virgin, Lord Krishna took the form of a woman, married him and performed all duties a wife must. The most popular of all the stories regarding gender metamorphoses was that of Mohini- a reincarnation of Vishnu. There were also stories of a community called Hjira that consisted of homosexuals, transsexuals, transvestites and eunuchs.
They coexisted with the heterosexuals to form a harmonious community that we are struggling to create today. Homosexuality is also mentioned in the Kama Sutra- an Indian sacred text regarding sex. The concept was acknowledged but not necessarily approved. Interpretations and judgements aside, it is clear that the idea of homosexuality existed in our ancient times. Although ancient India composed of generally heterosexuals, Hinduism was a tolerant religion that encompassed all types of people.
Hinduism never predefined anything but went by the principle that everything has to be judged according to its context — time, place and circumstance. It is believed that any unnatural situation can become natural depending on the context around it. This is unlike the morals in Christianity where it is clearly stated that homosexuality is a sin. Therefore, it is preposterous for Hindus to say homosexuality is a sin.
Today, under section 377 of the penal code, sexual activities between same sex individuals are criminalized. The British back introduced this code in 1860. There was some type of retribution in the year of 2009 where the High Court of Delhi declared it unconstitutional with respect to sex between consenting adults. It seemed like a new era of retribution.
Many came out of their shells and embraced their identity. Their hopes soon came crashing down when the Supreme Court overturned the code on 12 December 2013. Identities have already been established. People have already come out and declared themselves as LGBT. How can they take back their identities just because the government is fickle and capricious? These minorities were more in danger than ever now that their cover is blown.
Their plight in our current society is hapless. They are discriminated, intimidated, harassed, blackmailed and extorted money. They are punishable by up to 10 years of jail under law if they were caught. Keeping this in mind, gangs victimize them by luring them through dating sites, taking compromising pictures and blackmailing them for money.
I find this atrocious behavior appalling. Have the human mind gone so corrupt to stoop that low? Where is our culture and religion that we desperately cling onto? In fact, was not that one of our excuses to discriminate these people? We have driven them outside of our circle of community and watched them helplessly move about with what is left of their lives.
Where are our morals now? The British, who introduced the code, have long moved on and yet we are adamantly sticking by these antediluvian principles. We look a step forward, inching ourselves towards a community of humanness and equality and then we look a huge step back into a faceless entity.
How are we any better than they are? Let us stop and introspect for a minute. We believe in arranged marriages where two strangers are matched based on horoscopes, wealth, other superstitious and materialistic qualification. No one there is going to question the quality of relationship there. There are couples who have been married for more than twenty years without even knowing what their spouse’s favorite color is. This might seem trivial to base a relationship on, but it seems to me like they are strangers in many ways. We have cases of child marriage where a fifty-year-old man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. We have soaring divorce trends, extramarital affair and domestic violence.
Yet, we are the ones who are judging their sanctity of marriage. Is this not ironic? They are courageous enough to love against all odds and here we are, judging them for not being like us. I would certainly be enlightened to hear on what basis they should be like us.
This is not a case of religion, culture or politics. This is simply an issue of equality. These people are, at the end of the day, citizens of our country. They deserve a place in this society just as much as you and I. They deserve the peace, protection and justice we demand. They need acceptance. This is a revolution. A revolution that is going to expand in the upcoming years because of you and me. I am willing to lend a hand. What about you?