Friday, December 13, 2013

Live And Let Love

Beauty no longer lies in the eyes of the beholder; definitely not with Section 377 around. Maybe it would have, had the section not been revived again.

In 2009, the Delhi High Court on behalf of the Indian judicial system gave a verdict that emphasized one of the most fundamental rights of a human being – that to live and love. A group that is minor to all was being denied equal protection from the law and had their dignity abused.  Such behavior was a clear violation of articles 21, 14 and 15 of the constitution– rules that advocate privacy and dignity. Adhering to that very constitution, Section 377 was sent to the gallows – A moment of pride for the law, a moment of triumph for the Indian citizen. India had finally begun to progress in the truest sense of the word. It was a step into the future.

The LGBT Pride Flag
Source: Wikipedia
But then, the country decided to live up to its reputation – of doing more wrong than it could do right. A black flag soared high on December 11th 2013 as far as the general public was concerned. Justice Singhvi on his last day in office declared a verdict that brought section 377 back into action; criminalizing gay sex. India seemed to have gone back into the medieval times and civil liberties were thrown out of the window. The country was stunned and faith in the system had wavered.

Section 377 IPC’s definition is based on penalizing sexual acts that are “against the law of nature”. A case that was closed in 2009 was bought back to life by certain organizations and individuals who challenged the verdict on grounds such as “protecting cultural values of Indian society”,  “mental distress caused by the LGBT community” and ironically “welfare of the citizen, their rights, functioning of the state and the interest of the public at large”. (Read more here)

“Laws of nature” – a wonderful guise to hide behind; an even more effective guinea pig to pin the blame on. How does one define what is against the law of nature? How does one arrive at what invades the privacy and dignity of an individual?

Societies across the world have certain notions about how things should work; of what is natural and what is not. These beliefs have been developed over centuries and entrenched into the mind over generations. Different mindsets are what make the world, but the ability to live and let live is what sets it apart. This is precisely what is missing in the Indian context. Why do we shun something or someone that is different from what we do? From the way we live? More importantly, from the way we love?Why is it so tough to accept that their behaviour is natural to them; to the way they were built? What right do we have to cast people off just because they make a choice to live differently? Yes, isn’t it about the choices we make? Is that not a fundamental right of every individual? Then why not give them what belongs to them; their basic human rights?

Religious groups and organizations have long been against what they believe to be an act against nature. The fact that The Vatican (Pope) believes the sexuality of an individual is their own concern and as long as the person is good at heart, the church need not be concerned, is conveniently ignored.. Even more worthy of mention is the existence of LGBT behaviour in Hindu Mythology. Shikhandi, Brihannala and Mitra and Varuna (depicted in Vedic literature as Gods portraying affection and intimate friendship between males) are classic examples of such behaviour. But again these are ignored by the very groups that propagate religion and its philosophies. None of it seems to matter as far as these groups are concerned.

The views of these groups are listened to. Quietly and politely. The highest court of justice, that had seen no wrong in live-in relationships and children born out of marriage, was what mattered.

And the court stunned the world; yes not just poor Indians. By taking a decision that set back the judicial system by centuries, they stripped off the LGBT community of not only their human rights but also their identity. The decision forces those affected by it to once again live their life in the shadows and be subject to harassment, exploitation, cruelty and humiliation. Speaking of harassment, imagine what this equips the already merciless “law enforcement” representatives with.  This decision will only encourage untoward behaviour, questioning, bribery… the list can go on…only to sink lower and lower.

Amidst the uproar, there are two more disturbing facts about the Supreme Court’s verdict.

One – rendering the adherence of a High Court to the constitution as invalid; by doing so the SC has impeded the power of a High Court to take decisions as per the constitution of the country. What example does that set? Doesn’t it belittle the decision making power of the courts in question?
 
Two –Indian politicians and the self proclaimed god men that are in abundance in this country need but an excuse to exercise their influence over the hapless masses. What the verdict does is give implicit encouragement to those corrupt politicians who slam the topic and sham “Babas” who get another reason to spread their philosophy and cure.

These details do nothing to revive faith; all they do is further weaken it.

Section 377 IPC was written in 1860 by the British; life has evolved since then and so has lifestyle. Somewhere we thought we had moved on as well, but this verdict tells us what we did not want to hear; that we are frozen in time. The Brits have long since undone the rule in the UK but we stay put on it.

The section of society that has been affected by this ruling might be in the minority.In everyday life majority might prevail over them, but nothing ever should come in the way when it comes to their fundamental rights. This is one aspect where majority and minority are equal; and should always be.

There is a ray of hope; the Parliament. If the Legislature decides on deleting the outdated section 377 from the IPC, it can reverse the verdict. On one hand the deciding body is filled with politicians who have only looked down upon the LGBT and on the other you have those who have openly claimed the verdict to be flawed. The Congress has spoken about bringing an ordinance in the verdict but in whose favour the scale tips, is yet to be seen. However one thing is crystal clear, if the judgment stays, all it will do is blotch India’s reputation and international standing for good.

This is the country where rapes, harassment, religious impositions and corruption are the order of the day. This is also the country that awards Nelson Mandela the “Bharat Ratna” and declares a state mourning for him – for a man who fought for his people and their civil rights. Boastful of its diversity in caste, creed and religion, this is the country that consistently contradicts itself and denies its people of their basic rights; making them wonder if they truly belong.
 
A concoction of confusion, inconsistencies and a mixed definition of ideologies and beliefs, this is a country that has one leg firmly rooted in the past and the other trying to step into the future...rather unconvincingly. 

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39 comments:

  1. Very nice ! Loved the last paragraph, good summary of the Indian situation.

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    1. Yup, extremely depressing, hopefully the Legislature will work in its favour. but one thing does stand out, that the common Indian mindset def. has progressed :)

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  3. Very well put seeta.. completely agree with it..

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  4. Very well put seeta.. completely agree with it..

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  5. Relevant points Seeta. Such out-of-the-blue jolts are shocking when we uphold 'Rights'...

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  6. I absolutely agree with you and strongly believe in liv and let live and love too

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    1. Glad the feelings are mutual with most :)

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  7. You have put across all valid and relevant points. The Indian Judiciary system is mostly filled with hypocrites and people who still believe in age old archaic principles. A person's sexual preference is that person's concern only. Why should that matter to anyone else?

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    1. It's tough to decipher indian mind sets, more often than not they behave with hypocrisy :(

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  8. I couldn't have put it better, Seeta. So too, Prasanna Rao's comment. This seems like an epidemic. Australia has re-banned same sex marriages. What really is normal and natural?

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    1. Yeah, esp. Since a sane decision is reversed it irks all the more. Thanks for stopping by Achyut! Gonna hop over to your blog later today :)

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  9. I' still in a shock ! about the verdict :-(

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  10. Very sane view. There's a lot of ignorance about sexuality, particularly homosexuality. That's why a lot of funny and sometimes absurd notions exist.

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    2. Hit the mail on the head sir! :)

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  11. The state of our country is simple disappointing. :/
    One cannot hinder a person's personal choice towards sexuality! This is depressing :/

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    1. Depressing indeed... thanks for stopping by :)

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    1. urrmm.. i guess the question is what makes anyone decide what is natural or not? On what basis does one do it??? and I doubt LGBT increases the chances of terrorism in any country.. Would honestly suggest you introspect a bit and question the premise on which you base your prejudices.. they are quite a bit in number.. thanks for stopping by!

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    3. most of the girls blogs have girlie stuff . you need not thank me for stopping by,i like writing in a girl's blog who has inclination towards social and political issues.hope you don't see my above comment as personal attack.

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  13. A well researched post, Seeta! I am in complete agreement with your views. Just feel very disgusted with how all the events unfolded. I expected better from the SC.

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    1. Thanks Rachna! I think the fact that most of India shares our sentiment speaks volumes of the progress we have made.. things cannot be that bad now can they :)

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  14. Very well written post. An individual's sexual preference is their own personal choice, how can a legal entity give a verdict on that. You never know with the protests going on currently suddenly a so called "save our Indian culture" group may spring up and say all this is because the younger generation is influenced by the so called "western culture".

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    1. Thanks Swats. Live and Let live is something we Indians just cannot live with :|.

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  15. Seeta,

    Cutting trees is like allowing gays?! I know this is evening and my batteries are usually running down in tandem with the sun, but I must surely be dumb. I don't understand how one of your readers has likened the two.

    I mean...!!

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    1. Why does blogspot not have a "like" option on comments :)... I have begun to ignore those particular comments, realized it would be a waste of time trying to reason it out :)

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    1. Rohan, while everyone's views are appreciated, personal attacks are not necessary. I hope you will be mature enough to refrain from doing so going forward

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  18. Very well put and very well researched post. I completely agree with you. I sometimes think how a sane mind can take a decision like this that too at the position of a judge.

    -Jas

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Jas.. i guess understanding the human mind is something beyond us... :|

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