Our sexual orientation is a matter of our personal choice. We can be attracted towards anybody irrespective of their gender. This month, I take pride in seeing the growth of rights for the LGBT community in India. Homosexuality is a term that India has been familiar with since centuries.
You can read more about Homosexuality and Gender Reversal in Ancient India here.
However, the concept of homosexuality remained unacceptable in the society for quite sometime. Not only the orthodox society, but also our Constitution considered this to be a violation to the Indian culture.
HOW AND WHEN?
In India, the concept of homosexuality has been known since the Vedic Age and a lot of ancient temples showcase it. These temples have such an erotic display of art but still the society considered it to be unnatural.
Section 377 came into force in India in 1860s during the British rule. This law clearly states that any form of sexual intercourse against the law of nature is obscene. Many Indian leaders including Mahatma Gandhi were against this law.
VOICE OF THE PEOPLE: THE INFLUENCE
Some people were against the idea of homosexuality and had the courage to raise their voice. One of these great souls was Shakuntala Devi. She was a writer and a mathematician. Back in 1977, Shakuntala Devi wrote a book named ‘The World of Homosexuals‘. This book helped in bringing out pride to the existence of LGBT community. It had interviews of people who came forward and shared their stories to inspire others. Unfortunately, the book received more hatred than love and support.
This was officially the first step towards the growth of the concept of homosexuality among people. As an impact, the Trans community organised a conference in Agra in 1981, where 50,000 members of the community arrived to attend it.
ONE STEP FORWARD TOWARDS EQUAL RIGHTS
Along with the leaders, common people too started coming out and accepting their true identities. In 1987 two police women named Leela and Urmila married each other. However, they were suspended afterwards. In 1990, Ashok Row Kavi launched a magazine named ‘Bombay Dost‘ for the queer men. It was India’s first registered magazine for LGBTQ community.
COMING OUT OF THE CLOSET
The first ever gay pride parade called ‘Calcutta Rainbow Pride‘ was organised on 2nd July 1999. The march consisted of only 15 people but they were an inspiration to thousands out there. Finally, in 2001 a group of socialists and lawyers filed the first petition against Section 377. ‘Voices Against 377’ turned out to be the first social group of people against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. By 2006, an open letter demanding to take down this section rang the courtroom bells.
WHEN THE COURTS CAME INTO ACTION
Gradually, after the efforts of so many people, the Delhi High court passed an important judgment in 2010. The judgment provided equal rights to the minorities including the transgender community. This decision came out as a ray of hope for everyone. In 2016 ‘Amour‘ a dating app for the queers came out. Undoubtedly, the fear of acceptance was still there in the minds of a few people but now they knew that they weren’t alone. On September 6, 2018 the Supreme Court finally declared Section 377 as unconstitutional. The day when our constitution accepted this community as an equal part of the society.
There’s no doubt that the fight of acceptance is still on in the society. People still do not have an open mindset towards the idea of homosexuality. However, most people are standing up for their rights and are inspiring others to do the same. We all need to come together and support everyone to accept their true self. Be yourself, out loud!