The first week of July, 2009, has had special significance to Indians. While many people possibly in weird body paint danced in joy, hugging on the streets; others yet marked it as black day for Indian society, solemnly grieving the ‘decline’ of India as a country. Personally, I thought those were rather extreme reactions to my birthday. I mean, hell, I was even putting a low profile this time around. And July 5 comes every year, people… Even leap years, so just learn to live with it.
But my birthday wasn’t the only big event this month. Those of you who are in the loop, or around the loop, or live somewhere next to the loop, or visit the loop once a week or so, would know that on July the 2nd, the Delhi High Court decriminalized homosexuality. The Indian Penal Code, Section 377, drafted somewhere between the Bronze Age and the Age of Perennial Pranks, had a section which criminalized homosexual associations. It was clubbed as an ‘unnatural’ act, and was further expanded by the public as an act against God and nature. It’s unclear who undertakes the task of defining what’s natural.
I think it’s a long overdue change, but then again, I knew that there would be a lot of protests and demonstrations against this. People get active when age old norms and customs get torn. I was pleasantly surprised that there were no heavy protests/ wild demonstrations on the streets. Maybe people are more open minded than I thought. I just had to stand up and clap, which, by the way, is an extremely stupid thing to do when you’re riding a bike.
But the applause came a bit too early; the protests were just delayed. The ruling apparently shook the roots of fundamental anti-gay community so much that they spent a couple of days reeling and gasping under the shock. They started on their head-butting campaign soon enough, and started challenging the verdict.
If gayhood is legalized, they reasoned, it would corrupt the ‘moral fabric’ of the country. Groups of bandanna clad terrorists calling themselves ‘The Go-Go Gang’ would unite behind random shrubbery, waiting for an unsuspecting, innocent, straight victim to pass on by, possibly whistling ‘Mere Sapnon ki Rani‘ as he walks by. And once they spot one, the gang would jump on him, sometimes from as far as the neighboring state, and the police would just have to stand by, teary-eyed and powerless, because section 377 is no longer active. And pretty soon, the poor, innocent, straight whistler would get INFECTED. From now on, he’d be singing ‘Mere Sapnon ka Raja‘ instead.
And soon, the scourge would spread across the country. Gay activists would take a cricket bat and club the institution of marriage to death… or maybe use telephone wires to strangle it to death… or burn it, or something. There would be no more marriage, no more children, and we’d be looking helplessly at an AIDS epidemic that we can’t control. The whole of India would get wiped out and Pakistan would go “Huh? It wasn’t me!”
India would then become a textbook example for future generations on how a country wiped itself out. And the religious sects add – “That’s not all. Once the entire race is wiped out, all Indians will share a fiery cauldron in hell too.”
Well, at least they’re not overreacting.
I haven’t actually met a gay man ever. Ok. That may not be true. Let me rephrase. I haven’t met someone who I’m sure is gay. Hmm… One more try. I haven’t met someone who’s openly gay. It is possible that I DO know some people, but they don’t let on that they’re gay. Quite frankly, I don’t know how I’ll react if that happens. I know that I wouldn’t scream and hit him on the head with a frying pan, but I can only hope that I’ll be mature enough to treat him as I’d treat any other friend. I think will, but I won’t know till I actually encounter the situation. In essence, while I don’t know for certain how I will react, I do know how I SHOULD.
In America, I understand there is a clear separation of church and state; this prevents religion from messing around with the legal system – “Your honor, the defendant did indeed shoot his sister and bury three backpackers in his front yard, but he was only doing that because God told him to.” I don’t know if such a policy exists in India. I sure hope it does. India has a radical mix of religious beliefs and faith, and the only thing they seem to agree with is intolerance. It’s not a phenomenon unique to India. Globally, the predominant creed of religion seems to be that God is conducting a Mortal Kombat tournament, with the surviving champion getting eternal glory.
Religious sects all over the country has rebuked the court ruling reiterating that homosexuality is against the order of God. I can’t speak for all religion, but taking my own, Christianity, I’ll have to say that you need to pick and choose. It is true that the bible condemns homosexuality as a sin, punishable by death. But the literal bible is pretty lavish with the death penalty, prescribing it to children who don’t listen to their parents, fortune tellers, false prophets, blasphemers, people who work on the Sabbath, and also supports genocide of an entire town, if one person in the town believes in another religion (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT) This by itself takes down “Thou shalt not kill’ from an ironclad commandment to a recommendation with loopholes.
The Holy Book also abets slavery, child abuse (Judges 11:29-40 and Isaiah 13:16) and other things that modern morality cringes on. It’s not possible to follow everything the bible says, basically because it contradicts itself now and then. So if you have to pick and choose, choose the passages that promote tolerance and reduces hatred. Any self respecting God is sure to give a thumbs up to that. So leave the religious fanatics to debate their cause in society. Let them preach, as long as they do it peacefully. Let’s leave court ruling and justice to the sane boys.
Another of the most common complaints is that this will somehow, undermine the sanctity of marriage. This, from a society that still fights the dowry system, child marriage, polygamy and other remnants of the dark ages. I can’t help but be amused by these reactions. What are they afraid of? Do they feel that their wives and husbands will suddenly come out of the closet running free, shouting “Free at last!“, running into the arms of a random guy/ girl? If anything, hiding your sexuality behind a charade of wedding vows and social masks is the real threat to the sanctity of their precious marriage.
All things considered, I must confess that things haven’t been as bad as I had initially feared. We have some domed noise. We have some religious leaders preaching, we have some paranoid schmucks predicting that the natural course of events that will follow this decision is chaos and pandemonium. Wanton rape, child abuse, God’s wrath via natural calamities, instantaneous divorce, and men having to walk with chastity belts in the constant fear of an attack from the rear… these are some of the projections into the future made by these little heroes.
Ok, so it’s bad. But not as bad as I feared it would be. There’s hope for this country yet. Let’s see what my next birthday brings.