Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Continuing Debate

The meticulous crafting of Delhi HC's verdict on decriminalization of consensual gay sex makes this ruling one of the most beautiful and powerful reads in recent times. Despite the hypocritical backlash from an otherwise disjointed majority of whoever and whatever, the High Court's message is loud and clear: in a democracy, constitutional morality should never be confused with popular morality.

But again, democracy is seldom without drama. Now all eyes are set on July 20 when the Supreme Court will hear a fast-track petition against this ruling, thanks to an appeal by some astologer. Yes, I am gobsmacked! While the story unfolds, G. Mistry shares with us her observations on this debate in her post entitled, "Despatch from Bombay: Naz Foundation v. Union of India," Gender & Sexuality Law Blog, The Columbia Law School.

She writes, "... in a country that lives in different centuries all at once, the role of the courts is brought sharply into focus. What should the courts do when confronted with an intellectual and moral chasm that divides the public as it does in such a case? Is it a dilemma at all? For the Delhi High Court, it does not seem to be" (Emphasis added).

The italized comment clearly explains the ongoing hysteria over Delhi HC’s reading down of Section 377. In fact, it is times and discussions such as these that make me imagine India as a giant Collage Country, quite in the tradition of Rowe's Collage City. India has not just different histories coexisiting but also different perceptions of what is moral and hence, both legal and rightful. Now whether the difference in this case aligns itself more closely to the concept of diffĂ©rance (Derrida) or the notion of differential (HL), remains to be seen.

And so the debate continues.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The OutLoud Project

Source: Berliner Funkausstellung, Riesenlautsprecher (1929) Wikimedia Commons.

[A beautiful initiative:] The Storycorps Outloud project wishes to expand its workings and preserve more stories from across the country in an archive at the Library of Congress. The project's mission is to listen and help spread the voices and struggles of LGBTQ identified individuals and through this:

"--Honor the lives of older LGBTQ individuals, many of whom have lived through landmark events of the LGBTQ experience in America.
--Bring LGBTQ generations together so that the younger generation can learn from and value the lives, experiences, and wisdom of their elders.
--Include many more LGBTQ voices in the archive at the Library of Congress.
--Share and broadcast voices of the LGBTQ community for millions to hear
" (source).

What a wonderful opportunity to share your story with others. Visit the Storycorps website, read about the Outloud initiative, listen to stories preserved and learn of ways to record your own.

[via "b-the change: Tell your LGBTQ love story Outloud and proud on StoryCorps" story on].

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Historic Judgment

"Indian Constitutional law does not permit the statutory criminal law to be held captive by the popular misconceptions of who the LGBTs are" (Chief Justice, Delhi High Court).

In a historic judgment today, the Delhi High Court ruled Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code unconstitutional in so far as it criminalizes consensual sex between adults in private. With the HC verdict being applicable throughout the country, India became the 127th country in the world to legalize gay sex. Hurrah!

It might have taken the world's largest democracy this long to review and revisit an old archaic law enacted during the British colonial rule, but as they say, better late than never. There were many who said this day would never come, but it did and how. The legal bench attacked prejudices against homosexuality and said, "Moral indignation, howsoever strong, is not a valid basis for overriding individuals’ fundamental rights of dignity and privacy. Constitutional morality must outweigh the argument of public morality, even if it be the majoritarian view." It also added, that "(T)here is almost unanimous medical and psychiatric opinion that homosexuality is not a disease or disorder (...) Homosexuality was removed from the diagnostic manual of mental disorders in 1973 after reviewing evidence (and) In 1992, the WHO removed homosexuality from its list of mental illness (...)."

Read the full text of the Delhi HC judgment (pdf.) here. Also, the debate which until now was doing rounds in select circles only, is now picking up pan-India on whether or not a legal provision can change societal perspective. The question being asked is, "can the HC verdict change social attitude towards gays?" I think this question is hugely misplaced for three reasons:
1. It is hasty, seemingly looking for quick overnight solutions.
2. It positions society at the receiving end of law and forgets, that social and legal are in fact, dialectically related.
3. It assumes change as some one time Aha! moment and forgets that it is procedural and already taking place, however slow and/or subtle.

A progressive law empowers not just once, but over and over again by:
1. Safeguarding the rights of LGBT identified/questioning individuals. This further allows them to put a face to alternate sexuality and challenge any ignorant imagination of it as immoral or sin.
2. Making outreach for HIV/AIDS prevention/protection/safe practices education possible. This is huge in a country like India where limited health care and social stigmatization have ruined the lives of many.
Let us view the revised law as a start and a step in the right direction. Let us believe that it will act as a catalyst for change at all levels: a change whose pace might ultimately be determined only by increased visibility.


About This Blog

This blog is built around what I refer to as the socio-sexual debate, meaning the simultaneously coexisting conditions of human society and human sexuality in a constant state of inner conflict and pressing debate. To read more, click here.

Opinion Matters

"There is a way of discussing sexuality without using labels" (Mika* in an interview with Shana Naomi Krochmal, OUT, 2008-01-28).

*Mika is a London-based singer-songwriter.

  © Blogger templates Brooklyn by 2008

Back to TOP