“Only the human mind invents categories and tries to force facts into separated pigeon-holes. The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects. The sooner we learn this concerning sexual behaviour the sooner we shall reach a sound understanding of the realities of sex.” – Alfred Kinsey
I stay here out of fear
Fear of judgement, fear of ridicule
But most of all, fear of abandonment.
I’m afraid that if I come out of this lonely little closet
What waits beyond will be a much greater peril
Or perhaps it will be the release I’ve been looking for
So I’ll take a chance.
In the recent times, as a society, we have come to view our Indian culture & heritage through a heteronormative lens. Often one notices how people from alternative spectrums of sexual orientation and behaviour are looked upon as anomalies of nature – like the ‘Hijra’ on the train or the boy with feminine mannerisms or even a woman in ‘men’s clothing’ sporting a boy-cut.
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalizes sexual activities that are “against the order of nature”, even when consensual. The unnatural acts refer to same-sex intercourse, bestiality and fellatio. This law was exported into India by our English colonizers in 1860. That we, as a State, chose to hold on to this reflection of Victorian morality even after Britain abolished it in 1967, is ironic. That we, as a society, choose to consider its abolition or amendment a threat to our cultural values in India, is befuddling because what our Indian culture stands for or consists of, no one knows. For if one were to literally walk the line drawn by this law, sex post menopause and sex with the use of contraception count as “unnatural” as well.
The legal battle over Section 377 started out as a concentrated effort of sexual minorities to gain access to sexual health care, and has now evolved into a fight for their Fundamental Rights. Section 377 discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation. It does not criminalize one’s sexual orientation per se, but the act of behaving in accordance with that orientation. This effectively translates to more of a stigma against the LGBT community and this is a violation of the fundamental right against discrimination as per Article 15 of the Indian Constitution.
More than two years after the historic passage of the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014 in the Rajya Sabha, attacks on the lives and dignity of transgender persons continue with impunity.
The Lok Sabha discussion on Tiruchi Siva’s bill has so far been loaded with factual inaccuracies and logical fallacies in the apathetic statements made by ruling party legislators. During the discussion on the bill, on 29 April 2016, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP made the following statement:
“But the transgenders take poor children with them and later make them transgender through surgery. This is [sic] huge criminal racket. Even their family members do not accept them afterwards. Right now our learned colleague was pleading for reservation to them. If it is done, this crime will further escalate. This way, unknowingly, we would be doing great harm to the society.” (Lok Sabha Synopsis of Debates 2016).
It is terrible and unacceptable in a modern society that a section of its people is left with no option but to beg or engage in sex work for living; that they are by birth vulnerable to human trafficking. It is our mindset that has imprisoned them and it will require a freeing up of our minds to free them.
The two primary sources that have the power and ability to diminish discrimination against LGBT youths are schools and parents. In my opinion, they are the ones who have the greatest influence on LGBT youths and in turn have the ability to reduce substance abuse, educational failure, and suicides. Parents and schools need to realize how much they can help diminish the effects of discrimination against LGBT youths if they work together and productively. Clearly, if they remain on the same page they can ease the agony for LGBT youths and help them live a normal and happy life.
In 2015, the world’s first national voter referendum on same-sex marriage drew broad approval when Ireland joined 18 other nations in allowing two people to marry, “without distinction as to their sex”. Despite over 70 percent of the population being Roman Catholic, the people of Ireland voted in favour of same-sex marriage which goes to show that tolerance is an achievable mark for a progressive society.
I believe that sexual orientation and gender identity are integral aspects of ourselves and should never lead to discrimination or abuse. The road that does not retrace history is one of tolerance, understanding, compassion, acceptance and above all, the way of humanity. This is the way forward. The way forward to create A SAFE SOCIAL SPACE for all HUMAN BEINGS, regardless of their gender identities and preferences.