Decriminalising homosexuality – Help my voice reach the GOI

On July 2, 2009, the Delhi High Court declared Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code unconstitutional, thereby, giving a new ray of hope to millions of Indians who were stigmatized for their sexuality. The section, which criminalized consensual sex between two adults of the same-sex, was grossly misused by the police to target and victimize homosexuals. With 377 gone, it was a dawn of freedom for the LGBT community in India.

However, on December 11, 2013, the Supreme Court overturned the Delhi High Court verdict, thereby declaring lakhs of Indians criminals in their own country, solely for their ‘choice’ of love. The decision of a legislation to decriminalise homosexuality was left the Parliament of India.

The judiciary is the custodian of human rights, and has the mandate to make decisions in the interest of the public. But Justice Singhvi adjudged that annulling Section 377 of the IPC for a “minuscule minority” is improper. Well, the Constitution of India warrants that no matter how minuscule a minority is, their rights must be protected.

Article 21 of the India Constitution includes right to privacy also in its sweep which was upheld by our Hon’ble SC in Kharak Singh v State of UP for the first time. The Supreme Court held that right to privacy is an essential ingredient of right to personal liberty.

While a common case against decriminalizing homosexuality is that it is “unnatural”, people forget that nearly 500 species on animals show homosexual tendencies. How can a trait so abundantly occurring in nature be “unnatural”?

There is also a class of people who say homosexuality is against Indian culture. That is definitely not the case. The controversial Section 377 of the IPC is a British law that was introduced in the Victorian period. In fact, Indian scriptures and epics are replete with queer characters (the most common being Shikandi from Mahabharata).

The American Anthropological Association stated in 2004: “The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.”

Several countries in the world recognize same-sex marriage: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay and the United States.

I, therefore, feel, it is about time we shed the colonial baggage, decriminalizing a private and consensual act between two consenting adults. It is time we modified Section 377 of IPC to decriminalize homosexuality.

Let every human being live a life of dignity, irrespective of their gender, sexuality, caste, religion or colour – just as the Constitution of India mandates.

Sign the petition by clicking here.

 

P.S. This is my first post for #BlogchatterProjects

DISCLAIMER: All Images Used In This Post Have Their Respective Copyrights

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Book Review: The Tree Bears Witness by Sharath Komarraju

As a 90’s kid living in India, the famed Akbar-Birbal stories were part of my growing up years – firstly, thanks to the Amar Chitra Katha comics, and secondly, courtesy the animated series on Cartoon Network. Known for his sharp mind, analytical skills, and quirky wit, Birbal was one of Akbar’s ‘Navaratna’ (nine gems).

From mundane matters pertaining to state of affairs, to something as absurd as counting the number of crows in the kingdom – popular tales of Birbal encompassed it all. So, it was absolutely intriguing to land a book about ‘detective’ Birbal who is entrusted with solving a murder mystery. ‘The Tree Bears Witness’ by Sharath Komarraju shows us a new side to the popular historical figure.

Given the times we live in, where any reference to historical figures is met with a threat to life, or a bounty on the head, it is brave of the writer to pen a fictional tale of the murder of Sujjamal, brother of the newly-wedded Rajput queen of Emperor Akbar. Imagine an envoy of a foreign country dying under mysterious circumstances in India – Sujjamal’s murder has similar far-reaching political consequences, as his marriage with the Rajput princess was a political manoeuvre.

Given the gravity of the situation, Akbar turns to his trusted lieutenant to bring the perpetrator to justice using his famed grey matter. While Birbal sets on the task, he has a herculean challenge laid out before him. Palace politics plays out, as powerful people try to throw Birbal off-course in his task. An innocent scape-goat is jailed for convenience and rivalries play out in a way that makes Birbal’s work even more arduous.

The brisk pace of the story, with all the twists, makes this novel an enjoyable read. Birbal could very well be a modern-day CBI sleuth who is investigating the murder of a diplomat; the spirit of the story would remain intact. The delectable writing, with historical setting, set this book a class apart. The climax, where Birbal assembles the entire royal clan to reveal the murderer, reminded me of how Feluda always finished his cases.

Overall, ‘The Tree Bears Witness’ by Sharath Komarraju is an exciting murder mystery that adds a dash of history to a fictional tale of whodunit. If you read between the lines, the political subtext in the novel will surely impress you.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

P.S. The review copy of the book was provided by Amazon.

DISCLAIMER: All Images Used In This Book Have Their Respective Copyrights

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