Section 377: They Deserve to Live. Together.
“Gender preference does not define you. Your spirit defines you.”
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 reads, “…of unnatural offences i.e. whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine.” Though the mention of ‘homosexuality’ raises many eyebrows and voices of protest in the Indian society, it has been established that it does have a long and ancient history in Indian work, notably the Kamasutra.
Late in the afternoon on an early spring day, the Supreme Court of India began hearing the final arguments that would determine the legal status of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in India. In 2009, the Indian LGBT community took its first step towards equal sexual citizenship through the Delhi High Court’s judgment in the matter of ‘Naz Foundation v. NCT of Delhi and Others‘. The judgment not only empowered a historically marginalized community, but it also laid the foundation to strengthen other human rights struggles in the country with its expansive reading of constitutional rights. Yet for all the revelry that surrounded the judgment, there was an equally fierce backlash that played out across Indian television screens as advocates for the movement faced off with opponents from religious groups of all faiths and denominations.
India’s Supreme Court recently issued a ruling against human rights by reinstating a law that bans gay sex. The Court restored Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a 19th century law, barring “carnal intercourse against the order of nature“. The judgment has caused great dismay among liberal and progressive people and amongst activists and advocacy groups, which use judicial intervention to redress grievances against minorities of all shades in India. It has also been criticized from legal and human rights perspectives.
Today, what it takes to live a day in their skin, can only be answered by these people. Torture. Outcast. Fugitive. Criminal, and what not. An interesting, but unfortunate observation , here, is that Section 377 of IPC was brought in by the British, who amended the same law in their country, long back, and we are still, stuck to it.
The distinction between justice and law is crucial, particularly when a 19th Century law is interpreted in the 21st century context. The demand for justice brings a case before the law; this demand puts the law at issue. The law requires an extension or a reinterpretation when the demand for justice exceeds the law or brings new issues before it. Justice, then, renews the law – makes it new; extends its hold. Humanity in general needs to become more tolerant of diversity. Majorities within democracies need to view minority groups and those who differ from them with respect. We need to focus on other people’s humanity rather than on their sexuality.
“Only then – Earth would be a better place to live”
[Image Attribute: Lifehack Quotes]