Wednesday 23rd, May 2018
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Published On : 07 Jul 2017

Along with Railways, English education and gaping divisions in the nation, the Britishers also left behind a few of their laws in India that are symbolic of their legacy; and though these laws are null and void in Britain, they are still valid in India. One such law comes under Chapter XVI, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalizes sexual activities “against the order of nature” controvertibly including homosexuals.

Our ancient literature tells us that Indians took people of ‘triteeya prakriti’ (thrid nature/sex) as a part of normal social life and never discriminated against them. In fact, they were considered auspicious and people seeked their blessings and feared their curse. None of the ancient Indian texts from the Vedas to latter day Sushrut Samihita or Kamasutra consider sexual deviation as criminal. Sushruta Samhita goes to the extent of saying that sexual inclinations of a person are cast at the time of birth. By this, one can vindicate that, the credit of transformingIndia into a homophobic society goes to the Britisher.

Time and again petitions have been submitted to decriminalize Section 377. The High Court of Delhi on July 2009 decriminalized the section as it violated major parts of the Indian Constitution like Articles 14, 15 and 21 that guarantee equality and liberty, and prohibits discrimination on the bases of sex, caste, race etc. However, the Supreme Court of India overturned this judgment, with the court holding that amending or repealing Section 377 should be a matter left to the Parliament, not the judiciary.

Meanwhile in the Lok Sabha Shashi Tharoor’s bill, sought to the IPC by seeking to substitute a new section for section 377 was defeated at an introductory stage by a 71 to 24 majority in December 2015 and by a 58 to 14 majority in March 2016. One of the BJP members stated that he opposed it not because of any religion, vedas or ‘puranas’ but because of the Supreme Court judgment. Some people opine that the state or any other authority cannot object or criminalise anyone's personal preferences or what they do in their personal lives. While others think that it is against the order of nature and should be punishable by law.

Religious leaders have supported the Supreme Court judgment of upholding Section 377. Religious organizations like ‘All India Personal Law Board’, ‘Trust God Missionaries’, ‘Apostolic Churches Alliance’, and ‘Utkal Christian Council’ expressed their univocal homophobic attitude. Rabbi Ezekeil Isaac Melekar, honorary secretary of the Judah Hyam Synagouge, in upholding the judgment, was also quoted as saying “In Judaism, our scriptures do not permit homosexuality.”

Reverend Paul Swarup of the Cathedral Church of the Redemption, said that “Spiritually, human sexual relations are identified as those shared by a man and a woman. The Supreme Court’s view is an endorsement of our scriptures, though Pope Francis has a different perspective on the issue is more open to welcoming homosexuals and homosexual unions into the Catholic Church unlike his predecessors.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s vice president Om Prakash Singhal said “that is a right decision, we welcome it. Homosexuality is against Indian culture, against nature and against science.” This statement is however highly debatable as homosexuality is not explicitly mentioned in Hindu texts. Hinduism has taken various positions, ranging from positive to neutral or antagonistic. Rigveda says Vikriti Evam Prakriti; meaning what seems unnatural is also natural, which some scholars believe recognizes homosexuality. With the existence of differing perspectives, whether Indians will ever accept homosexuality remains a mystery to date.

About Author:

Jennifer Hanna Charles :
Currently pursuing Journalism , Psychology and English in Christ university, Bangalore . Aspires to be a Psychologist. Her interests include reading, writing, photography and music.


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Joyce Pereira, Bangalore    08 Jul 2017

Good article, different view.

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