India, owing to it's reserved and protective culture has been a country where we inherit cringing at the site or sound of anything that differs from 'Normal'.
Another factor that largely contributes is the heavy population and the variety of people. Everyone has his/her own definition of 'Normal'. The educated has a more flexible approach, however, the religious fanatics and a little uneducated ones are rigid in their approach.
Though we cannot challenge ones approach and the mindset, as it is more dependent on the privileges that one enjoys and the overall development in a country. Here we should aim to talk about it and spread awareness amongst those with concrete stands.
Let us first know who all are included in the 'LGBTQ+' community and what the different constituents of the word different from each other and also how is this community prejudiced against. And before we start I would request my readers to kindly have the brain of a new born and let it is be a bit flexible as this topic is beyond the typical binary and general definitions termed by men and women through time and, we have not really been able to define a gender, gender expression and identity very definitely, and we may never be able to do so.
So, LGBTQ+ stands for - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer(recently added), + other categories to develop and join.
These categories include those humans who are not straight or infamously - 'Normal'. Instead they are the aberrations or someone who is unnatural or at least they are deemed to be so! This does not cover all the types of genders as there are many more which are yet to be understood because of the blurred lines of distinctions.
Most of the overqualified, undereducated, over-civilized, over-enlightened and brains-deprived 'Normal' people do not even know the meaning of these words. Whereas, these people are as normal, and as naturally produced and processed as we are, but have different sexual and orientation choices. Like two people may have different tastes. A non-vegetarian may not necessarily prefer Chicken over Paneer, he or she may have a better taste for Cottage Cheese. (P.s- He/She does not want to get laid with food. And even if he/she may, it is his/her call and I would call it totally normal), similarly one man or woman may not necessarily have the same taste for an opposite gender as you do.
One important thing before we move further- One needs to understand the difference between gender and sex. The sex, 'male' or 'female', depends on the sexual organ, whereas the gender identity is subjective to one's comfort with either being a man or a woman. Also, there are homosexuals in other animal kingdoms like penguins, dogs and lions. They play a pivotal role in their community like adopting the young born who are neglected by their own straight parents. This has been clearly documented several times.
So, Lets understand them separately first -
Lesbians- Are the women who are sexually attracted towards women. They may even be called 'gay women'. Eg - Riddhi wants to get laid with Siddhi. Riddhi is a lesbian. And 'normal'sz
Gays- Are the men who are sexually attracted towards men. Eg- Ram wants to get intimate with Shyaam. Ram is a gay. And 'natural'
Bisexual - Are those men/women who are sexually attracted towards both men and women and do not prefer one over the other. So it is as normal as a person who likes both cheese and chicken equally and cannot really choose, so stop perplexing them into choosing a side. So a lesbian and, a bisexual woman, both are sexually attracted towards women, but the bisexual woman is also attracted towards men. Eg- Bheem likes Kalia and at the same time he also likes Chutki. Bheem is a bisexual. And 'he has not lost his mind'
Transgenders - Are those men and women who are not really the gender that was assigned to them when they were born. It is like, they were born a male/female, but on a deeper level they do not gel up with the body they have. They may have a penis but aren't comfortable identifying themselves as men. They do not want to dress, walk, talk or act like men but women. So if someone is assigned the gender 'male' but he identifies himself as a female from the inside, she is a Trans-woman. She may be attracted to men, women, both or neither of them.
You can even understand it like oranges and apples - They both are fruits but altogether different. Eg- Rahul was born with the genitalia of a man but does not really feel like Rahul but Anjali from inside, he may be called a Transgender. And 'he is not possessed'.
Queers - Are the people that you need to observe with a little more than a normal look. 'Queer' means a person who is a man but deviates from the Gender role in some ways. In a loose sense, whenever someone deviates from the majority stereotype in terms of gender association and sexual orientation, they are called queers in the community. Thus the definition cannot be very definite.
History of LGBTQ Community and Related Laws
The history of the LGBT tribe can be traced back to the earliest of times and one can say that, in India, LGBT community's situation has not been very good. Talking about the Indian mythology, there have been depictions and writings of transgender gods eg - Lord Vishnu as Mohini and Lord Shiva as Ardha-Nar-Ishwara (Hald woman goddess).
The Kamasutra also talks about the intercourse with the same reverence as the mythology. However, as the man started moulding the society into a more civilized structure, the transgenders came to be regarded as the lesser humans or people who are abnormal.
The transgenders had a special purpose in the Mughal and Hindu dynasties through the time. They were kept as the guards for the woman of the palace, as they could not rape them and yet had the strength to protect the royals from an outsider which normal female slaves could not match. However sexual activity between transgenders was punishable with 50 to 100 lashes.
Then came 'Goa Inquisition' which was an institution set up by the Roman catholics to move against the Christians. This institution in the Portuguese India prohibited and rewarded capital punishment for the offence of sodomy, however, lesbian activity was not prohibited. The 'Inquisition' was suppressed by the end of 1820.
Then came the Britishers with organized laws, who gave us the infamous 'Section 377' of IPC which came into force in 1861 and criminalized the offence of homosexuality. It reads until now, that it is an offence for a person to involve in “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”. Funnily Britishers decriminalized homosexuality in 2013, while we are still chained down.
The law in India against the trans-genders has not changed since 1861 ie. Almost 157 years. Though the practice is still criminalized in 74 countries of the world, there are many, rather most of them who allow gay marriages and homosexual relationships.
Netherlands is one of the first countries to allow gay marriages in the year 2000. Not only that, Netherlands is also one of the first countries to have proper laws and respect for those working as prostitutes and we should take inspiration from a country with such broad minded people and legislators. There are many other countries and continents such as Belgium (2003),Spain(2005), South Africa(2006), Canada(2005), USA(2015), England(2013), Germany(2017), Australia(2017), etc where being different if not a crime. Most of the countries in the world have decriminalized the offence after 2000.
Having said that, it should also be clarified that it is not as easy for India to decriminalize the offence as any other country. The main reasons behind are Illiteracy and Religion. As, even now major population of India is uneducated and at the same time overly religious, it is difficult for the people to swallow something that different from their 'normal' benchmark. Not only our people are deprived of that level of education which exposes a mind beyond the traditional restrictions, they are also inadequately educated about what their religion says and asks of them. This inadequacy in both the academic and religious education is the biggest drawback in our country which has not let us get over 377 in 157 years which is a very long time for humans to learn to respect a personality and not gender.
Due to this our LGBT community faces a lot of issues that Non-members do not. This may include -
- Discrimination and Non- Acceptance - The first and worst of all the issues is discrimination that all the trans-genders or for that matter any person different from the archetype of the society faces. Imagine yourself in a metro or any public place. People gawking at you constantly, refraining from standing beside you, dreadful of your touch, passing smiles to their friends making fun of you just because you are someone who is brave enough to be what you really are. How would that feel?
- Unemployment - People refrain from employing trans-genders just because they are not a good sight to behold (This was the defense of an employer who was prosecuted for discrimination). Due to discrimination, trans-genders have nothing but to beg to fill up their stomachs. This is a total violation of the right to equality and the right against discrimination. These people are also deprived of basic amenities such as medical amenities, citizenship, voting rights, and other such just because it is too difficult for them to come out due to the harsh behavior by society.
- Exploitation and Non-Cooperation by authorities - Trans-genders are exploited by every layer of the society as, for the Indians, being a transgender is also a crime as grave as intercourse between two, and thus they are exploited physically and mentally and also blackmailed backed with threats of handing them over to the police. And the authorities such as police or any other office happen to prefer a straight person than a transgender. In a recent case of discrimination in Delhi, police officials arrested a trans-man and his friend on the baseless suspicion that they were a prostitute and his client respectively. As trans-genders seldom get proper education, they are unaware of their rights and thus get exploited easily and find themselves dominated by anyone who wants. Also, ironically, the same people who advocate criminalizing the offence of Homosexuality and, intercourse between trans-genders, have been found guilty of raping and physically using trans-genders under the thrust of blackmails. Researching on the topic, this was the lamest stuff I have found about people. They cringe at imagining a transgender having consensual sex with someone and then sexually use them. Such people really have the capability of pulling down the IQ of an entire town. Beware!
LGBTQ+ - Present Scenario
Fortunately, the scenario is not painted as red as we read above. Though there is still a lot to be done, we have come a long way in the last decade. A huge credit goes to social media which has helped the breeze from other developing countries fill the Indian atmosphere, passing the stern and inflexible Himalaya like mindsets of the conditioned Indian souls.
The country has grown in all the aspects and fortunately education and broad mindedness is one of them. People, mostly the ones who have access to internet and education, have started being perceptive, sensible and constructive towards other people and accept variation rather than fearing it. In the last 5-10 years we saw third gender being lawfully recognized, first Gay Pride march in Lucknow(U.P), Elder LGBTs feeling lonely getting a safe place in Mumbai for a 'Chat and Chai' a one of it's kind café/spot, Tuition fees being scrapped by a number of institutions for the LGBT community, first transgender wedding being held and getting lots of love online and offline, and acceptance from parents, many public institutions and authorities like colleges, courts, Delhi metro, railways etc recruiting from trans-genders for lower as well as the highest of positions and a lot more which lifted the mood and hopes of the LGBT tribe.
Section 377 which stands as the biggest challenge to the progression of the LGBT community as of now has been in news for a couple of years and in the recent days, Hon'ble Supreme Court has been cogitating on the issue to find a solution to the fuss in the country. The LGBTQs look forward to SC's decision as the last resort and keeping in mind the episode from 2013-2014 and positive remarks from the SC bench this time has got them swinging between feelings.
Let's see what has been going on between 377 and SC lately and try to peek on the future of the community.
In 2009, the Delhi High Court decision in Naz Foundation v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi found Section 377 and other legal prohibitions against private, adult, consensual, and non-commercial same-sex conduct to be in direct violation of fundamental rights and in another ruling by the SC, it was held that the decisions of HC in matters of general importance shall be applicable to whole of India and not only the jurisdictional area of the HC.
On 23 February 2012, the Ministry of Home Affairs expressed its opposition to the decriminalisation of homosexual activity, stating that in India, homosexuality is seen as being immoral. The Central Government reversed its stance on 28 February 2012, asserting that there was no legal error in decriminalising homosexual activity. The shift in stance resulted in two judges of the Supreme Court reprimanding the Central Government for frequently changing its approach to the issue.
However, to the utter dismay of the general population and the LGBTQ community, the decision of the HC in the Naz foundation case decriminalizing the offense of Homosexuality was struck down by the SC on 11th December 2013, on the basis that only a miniscule population of LGBTs(200) have been prosecuted and held guilty under 377 and it cannot be struck down on such puny basis. The Central Govt., Naz Foundation and few others appealed against the SC's 11th December verdict, however SC dismissed the appeal on 28thth January 2014. Although, third gender was lawfully recognized in the year 2014 itself.
In Feb 2015, Shahsi Tharoor a congress leader also tried to repeal 377 by passing a bill in the house. The bill failed by 71-24.
On 2 February 2016, the Supreme Court decided to review the criminalisation of homosexual activity. In August 2017, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the right to individual privacy is an intrinsic and fundamental right under the Indian Constitution. The Court also ruled that a person's sexual orientation is a privacy issue, giving hopes to LGBT activists that the Court would soon strike down Section 377.
In January 2018, the Supreme Court agreed to refer the question of Section 377's validity to a large bench for examination before October 2018. The Supreme Court heard several petitions on the validity of Section 377 on 1 May 2018. It issued a notice to the Indian Government seeking its position on the petitions. The Court had given the Government until July to respond. A hearing began on 10 July 2018.
The Govt. seemed to be in favor of strucking the section down and quoted a few lines which made every LGBT and their supporter hopeful. Highlights are as follows-
“LGBT community are forced to marry opposite sex and face mental trauma”. “They feel inhibited to go for medical aid due to prejudices involved against them”
“Stigma felt by the LGBTQ individuals will go once the criminality attached to gay sex is removed”
“It is a variation not an aberration”. “It is not only humans beings alone who indulge in homosexual acts, many animals also show homosexual behavior”
Justice DY Chandrachud referring to Section 21a of Mental Healthcare Act which expressly prohibits discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation - "So Parliament itself now recognizes them"
However last week, SC reserved it's decision on the topic quoting that,”If 377 goes entirely, there will be anarchy. We're only on consensual acts between adults in private. Consent should be the fulcrum” This remark came after the lawyer argued that scrapping 377 will create lawlessness and several religions do not accept homosexuality” The court after 4 days of detailed hearing concluded the hearings on Tuesday. The decision is expected to be delivered before 2nd October as CJI Dipak Misra is going to retire on that day.
The hopes of the LGBTians have risen and set with the gestures and quotes of the SC in the recent days. The decision is expected to be a landmark, one which shall majorly, if not wholly, be in favor of the LGBT community. What I believe is that, fate of the section 377 is very important, however the focus should be on a more important topic that is - Implementation of the section. Unlike any other issue, this one involved all the domains of our country- religion, democracy, fundamental rights, Supreme Court, Politics and what not, and for this reason alone, the law will have to be backed by strong implementation policy. Another important thing will be the acceptance by people, however, once the implementation is strong, the necessary rage and drama shall cool down in a short span of time, as this is not a matter which can adjust itself amidst the swings and blows of the Indian population while the reigns of 'Execution Tier' are loosely grasped.
HENCE! EVERYTHING ABNORMAL WITH THE LGBTQ+ PEOPLE ARE THE 'NORMAL' PEOPLE.
Like if you support my view and add to my knowledge if there is a variation! And, I won't cringe, coz variations are normal!