In times when we are vehemently discussing ‘intolerance’ in the country, the LGBTQI rights have oft been given the raw end of the deal in debates and discussion. But the movement in the country got a fresh and positive push in the right direction. Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, speaking at the Times LitFest on 28 November said that the Supreme Court’s ruling on criminalising homosexual relations need to be reconsidered as such laws “were not in sync with the jurisprudential development on gay rights world over,” reported The Times of India.
The paper quoted him saying, “The court was not dealing with any personal law and was on the issue of order of nature and the Delhi high court has held that it was not an offence. The SC took a very conservative approach on the issue and the judgment needs to be reconsidered.”
While he made statements in his ‘personal capacity’, political parties like Aad Aadmi Party and the Left vociferously supported the rights of the LGBTQI community and said that they were in support of repealing the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises homosexual relations. P Chidambaram also said that the Delhi High Court verdict decriminalising gay sex was “wonderful” and that the Supreme Court should have upheld it, according to The Times of India.
Jaitley’s remarkable statements ring true, India with its negative outlook on homosexuality, where it is marked as a ‘criminal offence’ places the country in the group along with countries like Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran and Yemen. According to The Independent, these countries invoke the death penalty for homosexuals.
In 2012, the government submitted data to the apex court putting the number of homosexuals in India at 25 lakh, of these, 7 percent were HIV positive, according to The Hindu. The government also submitted that criminalising homosexuality could lead to fewer men and women coming out and seeking medical help in terms of HIV.
In response to Jaitley’s progressive remarks, Subramanian Swamy took to Twitter and said:
Twitterati’s did not take his statements well and egged him on,
Subramanian Swamy and his statements aside, the LGBTQI rights movement appeals to the very basic tenets of our Constitution that guarantees fundamental rights to all citizens of the country. However, as far as the right to belong to any sexual orientation and freely practice said affiliations are crushed by the weight of morality that is subscribed a section of people in the country. And this very subscription being prescribed to the rest of the country is problematic and goes against the very grain of our Constitution.
It is heartening to see politicians who usually are at loggerheads with each other about ideologies and philosophies, are rising to the occassion to stand in favour of what can only be described as a draconian and irrelevant law in these times. Shouldn’t laws understand the needs of the people it seeks to protect?
In the US, gay marriage was only recently legalised, perhaps we can aspire towards that goal by decriminalising a person’s sense of identity — his/her sexual orientation. Our laws need to further themselves from the heteronormativity that has been prevailing since the times they were formulated in.
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