After scrapping a regressive 19th century law (Section 377) that criminalised homosexuality. India has joined the league of a few former British colonies that abandoned a lasting legacy of British rule.
History of Section 377 in India
In 1861, the British introduced & added this Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. It was actually imposed to protect soldiers and colonial administrators from any form of corruption. Due to a fear that these men might turn into homosexuals. As they stay away from their wives, according to “British Colonialism and the Criminalization of Homosexuality”. A book written by Enze Han and Joseph O’ Mahoney.
Dilution of Section 377
After weeks of discussion by the court and decades of struggle by Indians, CJI (Chief Justice of India) Dipak Mishra said the law was “irrational”, indefensible and arbitrary”.
A five-judge bench key by CJI Dipak Mishra diluted Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, to exclude all kinds of adult consensual sexual behaviour.
India’s Supreme Court on Thursday (6th September 2018) struck down one of the world’s oldest bans on consensual gay sex, which was a revolutionary victory for the gay rights.
Section 377 makes consensual sexual acts, both homosexual and heterosexual-a crime if they are against the order of nature.
Section 377 refers to unnatural offences. It says “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished up to 10 years in jail under the 1861 law”.
Will the law Amendment lead to change in society?
As the largest country in the Commonwealth, India’s landmark decision sends a message to other former British colonies. Some of them are still stuck with the laws against homosexuality. The government should understand that homosexuality is not a crime, it’s one’s choice and should be accepted easily and happily by the society.
LGBT Community has now the same rights as of any ordinary citizen of India. The essence of liberty means freedom of choice and LGBT people have got it!
It’s a feeling of contentment that the Supreme Court has restored the dignity denied to the LGBT community by recognising the community’s right to love.
Those who did not overtly hide their sexuality but also did not make any effort to speak about their sexuality can happily say it loud!
The change is very significant, not only to India but to other countries as well. This act may encourage more countries to follow the footsteps of India.
After Dilution of Section 377
As soon as the news was all around India, the people in many cities danced, kissed, and hugged each other with happiness. The member of the LGBT community partied late night and were delighted. The human rights activists showered themselves in a snowstorm of confetti.
Greeting the Supreme Court verdict on decriminalising homosexuality, Samarpan Maiti, the second runner-up of “Mr. Gay World 2018” said that it is like getting “released from a dark jail”. The apex court has ruled that Section 377 of the IPC that criminalised gay sex between the consenting adults is “manifestly arbitrary”.
Dilution of Section 377 was a great relief. The LGBT community has their own identity as if a person is a gay or a lesbian doesn’t matter anymore. Everyone has their right to choose their sexuality. It’s not something that one should be ashamed of just because of the cultural norms. I am happy that there will be no discrimination in the society now. LGBT people who have been living under the fear of prosecution can now live without any fear and stigma.
Society is now better for individualism!
Changing the law was a vital first step in building a new society. LGBT people need protection, respect and support in this society. However, it will take some time for the society to accept the change.
I know social changes in India takes a lot of time. We may depend on the law to change certain aspects. But it is actually social and cultural norms which really bring about the change and change will take time. Changing the law is one thing and changing the mind-sets of the people is another. Let’s stay optimistic about it!
I feel, everyone in this society need to take broader and coordinated effort. Anything that helps to increase the visibility of LGBT people to get away with the stereotypes and social and cultural norms in order to show that LGBT people occupy the same position as everyone else does will surely help to make societal change faster.
This is the beginning of a new phase for LGBT people and it’s the time for celebration!
Reference: The Economics Times