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Post 377 era: LGBT community needs to realise what is their biggest challenge and hurdle

In a historic judgment on Thursday, the Supreme Court of India has decriminalised homosexuality. It has been a long bone of contention for a lot many people for a long while. With the decriminalisation of it, one hopes that activism of the kind we have seen will cool off for a while and there can be a moment for honest reflections and a reevaluation of the direction the movement was heading in.

A significant section of the LGBT community, and those who support them appear to believe that the conservative sections of the Hindu community is their greatest enemy. It should be fairly obvious to anyone but the ideologically possessed, that it is patently false.

Most Hindus do not care about this issue at all, they have their priorities, their own battles to fight. It is also untrue that homosexuality was criminalised because of the sentiments of a majority of Hindus. The law that criminalised homosexuality is a colonial-era law that was implemented by the British. Indian politicians, especially the Congress, could be faulted for not decriminalising homosexuality earlier but politicians do not always reflect the opinions of the majority of the community and for a country that was newly independent, decriminalising homosexuality was pretty much at the bottom of a long list of priorities.

It can be argued that a substantial, and vocal, a chunk of people do not like homosexuals and the law criminalising homosexuality was merely a reflection of it. I agree that it is certainly so, but a mere dislike doesn’t necessarily transform into a desire to hurt and punish. Despite the law that existed until yesterday, gay pride events used to take place in public and there was no resistance from the common man, mostly Hindus. They could peacefully demonstrate without any hassle and everyone let them be.

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However, it would be disingenuous of me to say that homosexuals haven’t been harassed for their sexual orientation. In February 2010, a Professor of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was filmed having sex with another man. The university administration suspended him after the video went viral and he was subjected to extreme humiliation and isolation at a place supposedly championing ‘liberal’ values. Two months later, he was found dead in his own apartment.

Such unfortunate incidents have happened. The LGBT community also says that they are regularly harassed by the police for public displays of affection (PDAs). But to be honest, police in our country will harass straight couples too for PDAs or for hanging out together without being married. The LGBT community in India has a lot more in common with their fellow countrymen on matters of love and relationships than they realise.

However, a toxic narrative that has garnered momentum, owing to the cesspit of postmodernism certainly, that the majority community, especially ‘Hindutva’, is the enemy of the LGBT community. Well, one wonders how they would respond to the fact that not even the secular parties have done anything worthwhile for the community. An even more toxic narrative that has emerged is that the Bharatiya Janata Party is their enemy and the minority community, which they believe is a victim of the saffron party as well, are their allies in this fight. Such a proposition is contrary to all facts and defies ever manner of logic.

The Hindutva party did not oppose the decriminalisation of homosexuality while it was opposed by certain members of a minority community (AMU incident for instance), and soon after it was decriminalised, it was a prominent media outlet that caters to the minority community that came out in condemnation for it. According to the theories of postmodernism, such facts do not make any sense. But then, postmodernism has very little to do with reality anyway.

The LGBT community is not doing itself any favours by getting involved in a web of politics by raising banners such as “rainbows over saffron” and “Rainbow against saffron”. If you are going to make your fight against a particular political entity, then you risk alienating a lot of people who otherwise would have been sympathetic to your cause and more importantly, they are going to respond politically.

And I sincerely believe the fight for homosexual rights wasn’t a political battle. And there are more important issues that demand the urgent attention of the LGBT community, the insanely high rates of HIV/AIDS among its members for instance, that need to be addressed which are being thrown under the bus because the community is focusing more on politics.

As a conservative Hindu myself, I do not particularly care about how one chooses to use his or her genitalia. I have an issue, however, like many others, with certain kind of mannerisms and posters that appear to be very common at LGBT Pride Parades. If the goal is to normalise homosexuality and drive home the point that homosexuals are just like everyone else – which they are – then perhaps the community should tone down some of the indecent attire and displays that have become all too common in pride parades. You are not depicting the best version of yourself and certainly not doing yourself any favours if you are resorting to indecency and vulgarity on an occasion that appears to hold significant importance for you.

Historically speaking, India has been tolerant of homosexuality and transgenders, like all pagan cultures. Homosexuals and transgenders were accorded their own space in the community and they served a useful function like every other unit of the society. As others much wiser than me have pointed out, decriminalisation of homosexuality is not India adopting western ideals, it’s India decolonising. And the LGBT community needs to be aware of this fact and be respectful of it.

Currently, the LGBT movement has been consumed by western ideals. If the community is to move forward and occupy its own unique position in society, then it has to abandon its westernised ideals and work within the context of Indic values. What has succeeded in the West will not necessarily succeed here. Postmodernism has brought nothing to the West apart from more conflict, more misery and more social disharmony. The LGBT community in India needs to disentangle itself from the western ideology and orient themselves more along pagan Indic principles.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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