And again Shashi Tharoor hits the headlines, and this time folks, it is something serious. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s private member’s Bill seeking to amend Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises homosexuality, was shot down before it could be presented in the Lok Sabha for debate on Friday. The Bill received the support of just 24 MPs. While one abstained from voting, 71 MPs voted it down. Tharoor reacted by saying he was “surprised by the intolerance”. (Kindly skip ‘intolerance’. It has received so many connotations already.) The shock is mutual Tharoor. The official verdict of the Supreme Court had taken us back to the B.C.s, and just to reinforce that we are falling behind, this happened.
To all those people who say the classic statement ‘it is against our culture’, listen- it is actually not. It is believed according to myths in Kerala and Tamil Nadu that, an amshavathar of Vishnu, Lord Ayyappa, was born out of a relation between Mahavishnu and Lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu incarnated into a female self, called Mohini, (she/he also appears in Amrit Manthan story in which she/he charms the asuras). Homoerotic practises are seen in Kamasutra and temple works which reflect the art of tantra. There are religious authorities who rule out homosexuality as a heretic practise. Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVIth called homosexuality immoral and unnatural. But the current authority under Pope Francis says that they are no one to judge and the homosexuals have the right to worship God as they wish and the clergy have no business pointing out that it is wrong. Around 75 countries have partially banned homosexuality including areas controlled by ISIS and Boko Haraam. The list includes Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, 13 states in USA etc. Of course, when it comes to gays, we are in company with Saudi Arabia and Iran. But it has to be noted that a country which claims and brags itself to be a world power, rules out homosexuality illegal. There are many animals and insects that practise homosexuality and bisexuality and thus the provision of homosexuality that is “against nature’s law” is also ruled out.
It would be unwise to assume that people in Europe and Americas where homosexuals have fought and brought rights have a society that warmly accepts them. But at least those countries have ministers who see what the people want. Despite the gay pride rallies and gender studies group activities in our metro cities, our ministers and officials have not received a wakeup call yet. We live in the world’s largest democracy and a ‘sovereign secular state’ and do not endorse any religious or cultural practises blindly. Still remains the country in a crisis.
According to Audre Lorde, “usually men end up homophobes because they expect gays would treat them like they treat a woman- jump at the first opportunity to have sex.” (No offenses meant, it is a quote from her book, Zami). Heterosexuality is not natural or the norm, it is just common. It is high time our ministers learn to say “because it is 2015” like the Canadian Prime Minister.
By Anna George for DU Times