STELLA PAUL rues that the Supreme Court upheld that gay sex is illegal in India
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My open letter of gratitude to the Court of India after it upheld that gay sex would continue to be a criminal act in India.
Dear SC of India,
You have just reasserted that all the people who have sex with people of their own sex are criminals. And, I am just so happy and proud of you! Here, see the big three reasons below:
1. You slapped/woke me up from a day dream!: Last Tuesday, at this time, I was in Bangkok, taking part in the Global Forum on Media and Gender. I met Michal – a woman from Tel Aviv who fights discrimination and maltreatment of LGBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender) people in her country and her region. Over coffee, I proudly told her "Homosexuality was a legally criminal offense in India, but then our court decriminalized it." She was very happy to hear that. In fact her exact words were "I think India is a good democracy!". Well, dear SC, thank you for waking me up and telling me that we still suck when it comes to treating every citizen equally regardless of his/her sexual orientation.
2. For letting me know the top court can play politics!: I always thought that the top court of India was well above politics, like the constitution asks it to be. But today, you make me believe otherwise. Come to think of it: when one Court of Delhi said in 2009 that the Section 377 of Indian Penal Code – provision in the constitution that criminalized gay sex was draconian and had to go, our leaders had reportedly pretty much accepted it.
But today, just when we are a few months away from a very chaotic general election, you are adding to the chaos, putting the ball in the court of the parliament and saying that its the parliament that can decide on a law. It seems to me that you do love playing politics as well.
The thing is, there are just a few months left before the current govt's term ends, which means, there isn't enough time for the govt to act on the issue. This again means, the blame sits on the govt's shoulder, not you. Yes, you can play ball, can't you?
3. For telling us how we can me minimalists: Dear SC, in global forums, our government argues with the world leaders that we Indians have a right to growth. The truth is, in our daily life, we rather follow the principle of living with the minimum. We manage with little security, limited resources, few jobs. Personally, women like me even manage to live with limited amount of freedom to move, to wear, to meet/socialize and so on. Now, it seems to me that with your today's verdict you are trying to teach us how to live without the basic rights as a human being. So, I thank you for letting me be the extreme minimalist!
Finally, dear SC, it seems to me that you are ushering in a new social and political order for us. For example, I bet that the Taliban will be very happy when they know that India is reinstating laws that curbs the human rights and all that shit. Also, we could become the "most favored nation" of all the homophobic countries across the world! How great would that be!
Oh, and, you know Nelson Mandela just passed away. India announced five days' of national mourning over that. Now, Mandela was a icon of the LGBT rights movement worldwide who, spoke out about homophobia numerous times and helped make South Africa the first African nation to enshrine LGBT rights into the Country’s constitution.
The man is yet to be buried, but you, the SC of India have already showed how to bury the very ideology of freedom he practiced, right on the last day of our mourning. That's the most brilliant way to show, how, as a nation, we could practice hypocrisy! Thank you judges for that!
Please have a good evening! I know you will, after all, you have thousands of cases to sift through every year. Today's was just one of them and you can't care much about that, can you?
Stella Paul is an Environment and Development Journalist, Poet, Media trainer, Organic Farmer, Folk song collector and a Gypsy sans a caravan. Born in Bombay, rooted in the North Eastern hills of India, survivor of an infanticide attempt, witness to filth unlimited and yet an incurable optimist. The views expressed are her own.
Also read: Black Day for Queer Rights