Reviewing Section 377 Gives Us Hope: A Mother’s Emotional Note
(As narrated to The Quint columnist Harish Iyer)
I am extremely elated by the fact that the Supreme Court has decided to re-look at the verdict on Section 377, which criminalises homosexuality. I still remember the fateful day of 11 December 2013 when journalist Barkha Dutt had called us to Delhi for a show on Section 377. In the flight from Mumbai to Delhi, I was continuously thinking that this law that should have no place in any democracy, has been defended for and emerged victorious. The faith I had in the judiciary had taken a beating, though I must admit, I was not letting pessimism get the best of me.
I am glad that my tempered optimism saw the light of reality and I am hopeful that the court, in its wisdom, would now calibrate their stance in favour of equality for all genders and sexualities.
Really, what place does Section 377 have in our country? Why would anyone want to peep into the bedrooms of adults? Isn’t that something that’s perverse? I am a mother who knocks the door a couple of times before I enter my son’s room. Why should the state be permitted to peep into his room?
In fact, why should the private sexual life of any adult citizen be of any interest to the state as long as it is consensual? I never found answers to these, but the Right to Privacy verdict paved the path for a more optimistic overview of the entire situation. I looked at it with optimism because there is no right to privacy when you equip the state to police sexual relationships between adults.
As parents, we only wish that our children live happy and fulfilling lives. My son is a fighter, but why should he be fighting for something so basic? He is a debator, but why should he be debating with someone who speaks with no logical argument but to deride? Isn’t it the duty of the state to not leave its citizens vulnerable to crime with laws of the nation that, rather than protecting, actually criminalise their private lives?
We have the same fear that every mother has when she leaves her child in a world that is not accepting. There have been nights when my son has taken time to return from work and I have made frantic calls to an extent that he would retort back with anger “Mom, I am an adult”.
That’s true. Our children never grow up for us. I know my son could defend himself and in fact he defends others. But his strength is an assumption.
I was really scared when a terrorist group attacked two out-and-proud Bangladeshi gay men and hacked them to death. Back home here, there is terrorism too. What if there is a lynch mob against him?
The recent attacks on minorities makes me worried. Attack on one minority community, where someone gets hacked and burned to death, stands testimony to the fact that those who are large in numbers and have a majoritarian mindset, can curb those fewer in numbers.
The attack on one minority, is an attack on all minorities. This hatred is not a feeble feeling and a fleeting thought, it is orchestrated to kill.
How does a mother not worry about the safety of her child who is different from the crowd, given that he is vocal about the fact that he is different that leaves him vulnerable to the forces of the majority?
This reopening of the case is not just the begining of the end of such fears within the LGBT community, but in turn also all minorities.
It gives us hope that people who are different from the crowd have support of the judiciary and that the constitution of India really protects everyone. As my son rightly says, “ Equality is not charity or a privilege, it is a right”.
(Padma Iyer is a homemaker, a wannabe author and the mother of Harish Iyer.)
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