Goodbye, Section 377? Here’s What Delhi Thinks About Homosexuality
Camera: Abhay Sharma & Athar Rather
Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui
(On September 6 the Supreme Court has decriminalised consensual gay sex between adults and struck down parts of Section 377 of the IPC, which criminalised homosexuality. In light of this development, The Quint is republishing this video from its archives. This story was first published on 21 March 2018.)
Mamata Banerjee once said, “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.”
But what is Bengal thinking today? Well, West Bengal’s Education minister recently made many uncomfortable when he said, “Homosexuality is unnatural and any lesbianism will not be tolerated in schools.” Talking to The Quint, he was commenting on Kolkata’s Kamala Girls’ School incident, where 12 girls were allegedly forced to write they were ‘lesbians’ or else they would face expulsion.
At a time when the country is witnessing pride parades in several cities and people are declaring their freedom to choose their sexual orientation, such a remark coming from a minister, and that too the Education Minister of West Bengal, Partha Chatterjee, highlights a disturbing nonchalance.
Can you imagine people laughing at you for who you are? Can you imagine people laughing at you, say, for being a left-handed person, because most people are right-handed?
Sexual Orientation by Itself Is Not to Be Considered a Disorder: WHO
It’s a common argument that comes up every time homosexuality is discussed: Is it a ‘mental disorder,’ or a ‘disease’? In WHO’s first International Classification of Diseases (ICD-6), homosexuality was classified as a sexual deviation that was presumed to reflect an underlying personality disorder. But all research done on homosexuality did not support the view. In it’s ICD-10, WHO clarified that sexual orientation is not to be considered a disorder.
Five Shocking Statements on Homosexuality
The Quint ventured out on the streets of Delhi to find out what the capital city thinks about sexual orientation and homosexuality in particular. The responses could be divided into three categories:
- Completely unaware and not accepting of it.
- Aware, but insist that homosexuality continue to be illegal.
- It’s natural and high time it’s decriminalised.
Here are some of the responses we got:
If Straight Couples Can Hold Hands, Why Can’t Same-Sex Couples?
It wasn’t all negative. Some people we spoke to, talked about the difference in the generations, and said that the reason why we are seeing more gay people coming out is because the times have changed. They believe that slowly, the society will be accepting to the same-sex couples. When we asked them if it was impacting out ‘Indian culture’, some said that we can turn a blind eye on them just because it’s strange for some to accept it.
Right to Privacy Big Leap — Small Step for Decriminalising Sec 377
In 2013, the Supreme Court turned the clock back on the fight for equal rights when it said that homosexuality or unnatural sex between two consenting adults under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is illegal and will be an offense.
But in August 2017, the Supreme Court set the ball rolling by stating that any discriminatory behaviour against gay people can be challenged in the courts as it would infringe their Right to Privacy.
Animal Kingdom Is Not Homophobic: BBC
As we spoke to some people about homosexuality, they explained why they thought it was unnatural. Some even pointed how ‘animals don’t display such unnatural behaviour either’.
But studies have found that homosexuality is widely prevalent in the animal kingdom. According to DW, from birds to fishes to mammals to even insects, about 1,500 animal species practice same sex coupling.
For several breeding seasons, the two were seen mating with each other and building nests, until one day, when their family was complete. The zookeeper found an abandoned egg and checked to see if it was fertile. The egg was given to the two male vultures and they have been raising the chick since.
Homophobia Is Unnatural, Not Homosexuality
Despite studies done across the world which prove that homosexuality has scientific explanation and is not a figment of a person’s imagination (as some may claim), it continues to be stigamtised across the globe. The SC has decided to review Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which is likely to be taken up in the coming month.