Indian Supreme Court Upholds Homophobic Laws
Indian culture stigmatizes homosexuality in every way. Bollywood rarely, if ever, shows gay couples outside of making fun of it. Dostana, a movie premised on two men pretending to be gay, re-entrenches most of the stereotypical “gay qualities.” However, you would think that the government of the largest democracy in the world would be more concerned with equality and rights than enforcing archaic laws. Laws that protect rights are not supposed to be made based on majority attitude, but rather they should be based on protecting the minority from the majority.
India should be ashamed of being on a list with countries that criminalizes homosexuality with repressive Asian countries, like Russia, Iran, Yemen, and Afghanistan. Recently, it became worse. India had a law banning “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal,” but for the past four years there was a decriminalization trend. In December, the Supreme Court of India overturned a lower court’s decision to not enforce the law among consenting adults. The wording of the law itself is problematic; “against the order of nature” could even be interpreted to mean intercourse solely for the purpose of procreation.
Just last week, Indian activist groups petitioned the court to review the decision they made in December. Instead of progress, the activists were denied the review. The Supreme Court won’t even reconsider a decision that has drawn the attention of most international and domestic Gay Rights groups. This colonial-era law is being revived during a time when most countries are reviewing how they can increase rights, not decrease them.
People need to stand up in solidarity with those fighting this undemocratic law. It is a terrible example for other countries around the world that look at India to model democratic practice. The onus is on India not only to lift the ban, but move towards increasing rights for homosexuals by legalizing gay marriage and protecting the rights of homosexual citizens. Lifting the ban is a prerequisite to having any conversation on marriage equality in India.
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