While the Supreme Court is scrutinising the legality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises sexual activities against the order of nature including homosexual activities, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy said that homosexuality is ‘not a normal thing’ and shouldn’t be celebrated as it’s against Hindutva. He even suggested the government to invest in medical research to find if homosexuality can be cured. The LGBTQ community has poured scorn on the political party leaders who are more prone to equating each and every issue with religions. Transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi expressed, “No political authority should decide what is moral, immoral and anti-Hindu. I would like to remind them that on many occasions, there are mentions of transgender gods. This is a human right issue and one should not make it communal by dragging religion into it.”
Notable transgender activist Akkai Padmashali expressed, “What is Hindutva when my Gender and Sexuality is the part of this nature. Hindutva has always accepted diverse sexualities. Sexuality and gender is not a mental disorder and is proved by the American Psychiatric Association and IMA.”
Although the judiciary of world’s largest democracy is considered as a forward-looking institution, a large part of our society needs a makeover in terms of pseudo-conservatism that is weakening the nation’s basic principles like equality, justice, and fair life for all irrespective of sexuality, caste and identity. The Bharatiya Janata Party started getting a knock-back from India’s LGBT community even before 2014 general elections for not having a clear stand on their rights while some of its loud-mouthed party members openly criticise homosexuality.
Social reformer Savita Mane, who teaches transgender in Mahim and creates awareness about HIV and AIDS, spoke to AV and said, “Why these motormouth BJP leaders have to speak on every issue that is not related to them! Nobody is sending proposals to Dr. Swamy to indulge with the transgenders. Double standards of BJP get exposed time and again. They support mob-lynchers, communal riots, violence, rapes, and rallies for rapists; they don’t want issues like transgender rights to get justice.”
Discussing the legitimacy of homosexuality, Swamy called it ‘American habits’ and a ‘danger to the national security’. He said, “The Americans want to open gay bars, and it’ll be a cover for paedophiles and a huge rise in HIV cases. If the top court ruled homosexuality to be normal and a free choice, the government should constitute a seven-judge bench or a nine-judge bench to review it.”
But No! Swamy is not all alone. There are Yoga guru-cum-businessman Baba Ramdev and Uttar Pradesh CM Adityanath who have claimed to ‘cure’ homosexuality with ‘yoga’ and called it against the Indian culture.
The President of Samapathik Trust and LGBTQ activist Bindumadhav Khire expressed, “Let’s remind these leaders that our Constitution gives equal rights to all and isn’t based on any religion, neither our laws work as per religions! It’s time to decide whether we want Ambedkar’s equality agenda or the religious agenda?”
“We need a strong law to protect the transgenders from social discrimination. Section 377 is a barrier in the path of transgender rights,” he added.
The fight against Section 377 is a long journey. In 2009 July, the Delhi HC legalised homosexual acts among consenting adults, holding that ‘the 149-year-old law making it a criminal offence was violation of the fundamental rights’. However, it gained the national spotlight in 2013 December when the apex court restored the criminality of the sexual relationship between persons of the same sex. Following that, review petitions were filed from across the nation that asked for the restoration of the Delhi HC verdict. On January 8 this year, the SC had referred the pleas to a five-judge constitution bench and had also directed the government to file a response; the highest judiciary has lambasted the Centre for their delay in filing response to the petitions.
Koninika Roy, Advocacy Manager, Humsafar Trust framed, “We believe that the SC gave too much time to the Centre. We are fighting from last 25 years so we cannot wait anymore. Section 377 must be repelled from the IPC. We are not demanding any special rights; we just want our fundamental right to privacy.”
After its first day on Tuesday, the hearing on Section 377 will resume again on Wednesday. Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, and Justice Indu Malhotra are hearing the matter.
Zohara Beg, a transgender hospital worker said, “Being a transgender is not what we chose for. I consulted many doctors as Swamy says ‘it can be cured’ but it is neither an organ disorder nor any psychological issue; it is purely a genetic disorder. Even it took us time to admit that this disorder is prevalent among us. Being a man, I tried all the methods to cure the abnormality in me and finally accepted that I am a woman born in a man’s body.”