Note: This is my first attempt at writing a feature. Except for the facts and data. everything else is out of my head.
A rustle of paper, a clearing of throat: the room is silent but the nervous restlessness is unsettling. The judge looks at the rest of the court. His heart is lighter already, even before he delivers judgment. A pause, the judgment and then the flood gates open.
Out in the streets, hundreds of masked and unmasked men and women scream, jump and hug each other with joy: Article 377 is scraped, section criminalizing consensual sex between homosexuals struck down.
Their lives are not shrouded by crime anymore. Finally their love is free.
And why should it not be? How can any law, that too in the world’s biggest democracy, be partial and grant the right to a decent life and equality to some and not to others?
Article 377, dealing with ‘unnatural offences’, is a section in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) drafted 150 years ago. While sex involving minors and coercive sex belong in the section of the IPC that criminalizes and punishes it, sex between consenting adults, irrespective of their gender, is not a social ‘vice’ that’s going to bring the country to its knees.
The Delhi High Court judgment said “We hold that sexual orientation is a ground analogous to sex, and that discrimination on sexual orientation is not permitted under Article 15,” We cannot have some laws that grant you fundamental rights to equality, freedom of expression and against discrimination based on sex and others which directly contradict these very basic fundamental rights and so deny them to a section of the people.
How can we, Earthlings who travel through space to walk on the moon, call Homosexuality unnatural and ‘against the order of nature?’ What is there to lose if people find ‘new’ ways to love each other in a world adrift with war and terror?
Long hair tied in a neat ponytail, the girl grins at the camera. A mask, much like the one Zorro wore while fighting corrupt soldiers, adorns half her face. But that was a movie and Zorro was the Hero that the audience loved and supported. This girl, like the many standing around her, placards in hand, is not celebrated, supported or admired for her cause.
“My parents don’t know I’m here” she says and it does not surprise you. Then she says “Next year I’ll bring them with me…”
Looking at her you realize that today we live the change in perspective, beliefs and practices. We have come a long way since the Stonewall riots of 1969. Each year, as June draws to a close, LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Transgendered) Pride Events are held world over and you don’t have to look closely to see the actual spirit behind these demonstrations. It’s the spirit of young people who believe that though they are masked today, there will be a time when they’ll be openly supported by family and friends.