The Hindustan Times today carried a couple of articles questioning the validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The piece by Vir even though it was a bit idhar-udhar at times was the best written of the lot. Even the NYT picked up the thread. While, I whole-heartedly support gay rights, and I'm pleasantly surprised at HT's articles, I'm not at all confident that anything will change. The only reason being middle class hipocrisy in India. Face it, I'm sure I'm get some slamming comments saying that because I support gay rights I'm a 'gay lover', and even though some people never elucidate their thoughts on the subject, if you talk to them about homosexuality, its a no-no.
But first lets read Section 377 shall we?
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 (changed to : 'transportation for life' in 1956) , or with imprisonment of either description for a 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 offence described in this section.
This quite clearly means that anal sex of any form, and even oral sex, rather when it is performed on a man can be seen to be violating the act. Now, this has not stopped some very high-profile people from being quite openly gay in this country. There is a rather large gay subculture in India, we all know homosexual people, live around them, work with them and are perfectly fine. Yet, when you go home and bang its legal but they can't 'do it' legally. Which frankly is quite silly.
But legalising gay sex by scrapping Section 377, well, maybe the animal bit should stay there would need to be a fair amount of public debate and you would need to involve a lot of rather closed minded government officials and polticians in the debate. And they will all claim how people will not accept it. Its just like 'journalists' in the pocket of one famous film director tried to talk down Omkara because of its language. The argument being that the liberal use of the word 'chutiya' would offend people, even though by the time most Delhi kids, boys at least, are in Class 6, they use the word as a term of endearment. Yet, there were always enough people who despite that didn't want to subject their wives to the abuse.
I'm not arguing for gay marriage, we are not that evolved a country as yet, and there will despite what Vir has written be almost no public acceptance of openly gay politicians or even moviestars by mainstream India at least right now. There is mad middle-class hipocrisy - Videshi log karte hain theek hai, India mein culture nahin hai. That is the sort of attitude I'm talking about.
When we are on this subject, I read a very disturbing story in ToI. Hmm, even though Nishit died in a tragic car crash on Lodi Road, his movie "Summer in my Veins" explores the same issue. Anyway, there is a gig by the Bombay-based band called Zero at Garden of Five Senses at eight, so I'll be off in a bit.
EDIT : HT started off, now everybody has joined the bandwagon. - ToI, DNA and UndieTV