Written and composed by: Rujuta. Soshte. R.Ruia college.
L-Lesbian G-Gay B-bisexual T-trans Q-Queer
There has been plenty buzz over the country regarding the amendment of section 377 of the Indian penal code. Introduced during the British India era, consensual homosexual sex between adults was considered an activity against the cause of nature. On 6 September 2018, the Supreme Court of India ruled the section as irrational, decriminalizing Homosexuality in India.
Equality is considered as one of the greatest basic universal value and like ethnicity, caste, religion and gender, one’s sexuality should not be the reason one is treated differently or being devoid of certain rights. The reasons why such discrimination takes place are plenty, ranging from illiteracy to religious fundamentalism which is why in order to eliminate such discrimination and unacceptance one must be made aware of this topic from the core.
Sexuality- Sexuality is about who we are attracted to romantically and sexually.
Sex- Sex does not define our sexuality as it refers only to the physical characteristics of a person, such as the genitalia and genetic differences.
Gender- Gender is an even more complex term which is believed to not have a basis in Science. It is more of a societal construction that is adhered in our minds from a very young age. Ex: the use of colours Pink and blue to show distinction, length of hair, certain behaviours etcetera.
The term ‘Homosexual’ is now replaced by LGBTQ+ since ‘Homosexual’ leaves out a lot of identities.
Lesbian- People identifying as females who are attracted emotionally, erotically and sexually to other Females.
Gay- People Identifying as Males who are attracted emotionally, erotically and sexually to other men.
Transgender-People who identify their gender different from their sex assigned at birth. Trans people may or may not decide to alter their bodies to more closely align their secondary sexual characteristics with their gender identity by the use of Hormone replacement therapy or Surgery.
Bisexual-Bisexuality is romantic, sexual attraction to both males and females or more than one sex or gender.
Queer/Questioning-People who are no cis or heterosexual but are of marginalized Gender identities and sexual orientations.
LGBTQ communities in India have grown over the past few years due to the support from the modern generation and acknowledgement of rights. The greatest reason for this acknowledgement has been the increasing amount of literate people who are aware of sexuality as a broad spectrum. It is indeed proof that even the slightest hint of acceptance can help sexual minorities on a large scale. The first pride parade in India was held on 16th of August 2008 to bring attention to the anti-gay laws in India. Tremendous support is received by the people of this community by a huge amount of youngsters and educated people. The number of countries legalizing homosexuality and allowing gay marriages is another proof that the problem of discrimination on this basis will slowly be eradicated. The fear of living inside a shell has haunted the sexual minorities for decades and decriminalizing consensual homosexual sex between adults was India’s first step towards a much wanted change and positive development of the Country. Homosexuality is no longer a crime in India and the people of the LGBT community have the same sexual rights as any other citizen in India. It is important for us as humans to acknowledge that One’s sexuality is not a choice, it’s not a phase and one can certainly not ‘snap out of it’.
Ever since the Amendment, more and more people started to come out of the closet, i.e. people stopped hiding their identities as a result of more people acknowledging the distinction between various types of sexualities and sexual identities. But this decriminalization does not assure the esteemed person of well-deserved respect and unwarranted discrimination. A written rule will not change the ideologies of a person which is why many individuals choose to hide their sexual identities. There is fear of rejection by one’s own loved ones, fear of people misunderstanding the person, fear of being treated differently and loosing what you have in life. Due to these apprehensions many individuals still find it difficult to come out. There are multiple psychologist and counsellors that help people deal with such disturbances for their betterment. The rejection by parents and families is sometimes so intense that individuals are thrown out of their own houses and un-owned by their loved ones. In order to change people’s perspective about homosexuality and to eradicate homophobia, the way society looks at LGBT individuals should be changed. Various organisations are formed focused specifically on the LGBTQ community in order to spread awareness and to grant the sexual minorities the rights they deserve.
Some of the organisations:
The Humsafar trust- It is the oldest LGBTQ group in India found by a reputed journalist and activist Ashok Kavi in 1994. This group runs multiple projects spreading awareness through conducting workshops , focusing on the issues faced by the LGBT community and educating people about HIV/AIDS. The youth wing of Humsafar trust known as ‘Yaariyan’ focuses upon health and social rights of the sexual minorities since 1994 and provides such individuals with the social support they need. http://humsafar.org/
Aanchal- Aanchal is a helpline for the bisexual and lesbian women in Mumbai. People living in the fear of others discovering their sexuality or people who have a hard time living within the society as bisexuals or lesbians can meet likeminded people and interact with them for support Contact- (022) 370 4709
Harmless Hugs- Originated in Delhi 2012, Harmless hugs started as a secret online group were likeminded people and people from the LGBT community formed a young collective to work for the rights of LGBT community. This collective is known for organising flash mobs, plays and informative sessions in order to spread awareness. They are also known for creating short stories, documentaries and their huge participation in the ‘Delhi International Queer Theatre and Film Festival.
Umang- Another collective based in Mumbai, focuses upon the needs and rights of LBT communities, they provide social support by conducting meets and get-togethers, they also offer safe space for LBT individuals and also provides professional counselling sessions to it’s members. The collective runs a helpline every Saturday and can also be contacted through social media. Contact- 9930095856
Queer Azadi Mumbai
Pride marches have been carried out in Mumbai from the year 2005, these marches were carried out with the objectives of equal rights and fair treatment for the people belonging to the LGBT community. These marches later were given an official name “Queer Azadi March in the year 2008.
The objectives of this March are as follows:
Equal rights for the LGBT community and an end to discrimination against members of the community.
Constitutional protection against discrimination on the basis of gender and sexuality.
Legal recognition for all members of the LGBTIQ community, and equal rights for those who do not fit the male-female classification.
Sensitisation of society towards the rights and aspirations of the community, to put an end to practices like forced marriages. Specific sensitisation for the medical community regarding the treatment of community members.
Elimination of violence, hate, homophobia and trans-phobia within families, educational institutions, workplaces and public places
Over 10,000 people participated in the events held during the 10the Queer Azadi March in February 2018. People were more comfortable revealing their identities and the use of masks was reduced as compared to the previous Marches.
Sexuality in any form is hardly ever discussed In India which is one of the main reasons why homophobia is still prevalent in the society. Cases of Physical and emotional violence create fear in the minds of people restricting them from coming out, there is a need to develop tolerance and acceptance in the society because as humans it is our duty and their right.
Why is homosexuality such a taboo?
Religion and culture is often used as an excuse to promote homophobia. Many public speakers and leaders have called it a disease, some said it’s unnatural and some said it is against Indian culture but none of these claims are true. Homosexuality is greatly represented in the ancient medieval texts of Hinduism dated back to 6000BC. Hinduism which is the third largest religion in the world does not consider homosexuality as a sin as it is believed to be. Some mythological stories, carvings and sculptures representing homosexual sex on temples prove that homosexuality was prevalent in Hinduism. Moreover, Indian culture always has considered a Third sex for people who do not identify as males or females but the stories of unacceptance and struggle of people who openly identify with the third sex are kept hidden.
A number of people who are aware of the one’s sexuality as a natural occurrence and do not consider religious beliefs as extremely crucial still tend to promote homophobia simply because the society does the same. If we know something is wrong and still decide to promote it, then we are worse than people who don’t know what they are supporting.
How to help?
As cisgender or straight people we should still support the LGBT community because we are all humans and every human deserves to be free to love and be loved. Love stands above all and no god will ever curse you for loving.
We can ourselves make small differences to help out our brothers and sisters live a normal life like us. Speaking out on homophobia, accepting people belonging to the LGBT community around us, supporting them, helping them, becoming members of LGBT organizations, working for LGBT collectives and participating in pride marches are few ways to show our support. After all, every human deserves to love and marry whoever he wants because love is never wrong.
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