The freedom to choose…

Today is unique. The day will be remembered for all the wrong reasons by those who stand by freedom of choice, no matter how difficult it may be to accept. I will refrain from commenting on the Supreme Court’s ruling on Section 377 of the IPC, not because I think the courts are above criticism, but because I believe much has been said about it since morning by people more qualified to comment on it than me. But, what strikes me as representative of Indian attitudes is the constant reference to Indian culture, as if by speaking of sexuality in the public realm we somehow compromise on values.
The very fact that the judgement is today being criticized in the public sphere marks a step forward in Indian critical thought. It was not very long ago that the very mention of sex and sexuality in public was hushed up with moral indignation. The very crux of our problem with homosexuality is the reluctance to acknowledge and speak of some issues, especially sexual and gender-related in public. The Supreme Court in its judgement mentions “minuscule minorities” while referring to the LGBT community in general. And evidently, the rights of this minuscule minority are insignificant when compared to the sensibilities of the ignorant majority. For a country that prides itself on affirmative action for minorities, the LGBT community obviously does not qualify. They find little or no support from political parties who run to support minority rights for every other conceivable group. Perhaps because the community lacks the organization present in many other countries and because they do not form a vote bank?
As many commentators pointed out, the belief that homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality and transgender are against Indian culture is completely false. There are umpteen examples of homosexuality in Indian mythology and still more examples of the fluidity of gender in our socio-cultural fabric. Yet, we refuse to acknowledge these very truths in our everyday life.
We like our lives to be neatly ordered and fit perfectly into slots designed by society. When someone refuses to be slotted and classified, we have a problem. We label them as unnatural and abnormal. When such labelling occurs in private, the impact is relatively limited. But, by clubbing homosexuality with issues such as bestiality, rape, incest and child abuse we do a great disservice both to those who fight for gay rights and to those who deal with violent sexual crimes. Even in public discourse we fail to distinguish between what goes on within closed doors between consenting adults and unpardonable violence against men, women and children against their will and without their consent.
Unless we learn to speak of issues as sensitive as gay rights and sexual violence with a modicum of common sense, we are doomed to find extreme and contradictory views in public discourse. As long as our public debates remain superficial and limited in world view, we are doomed to live in a society that is both hypocritical and ignorant.

4 thoughts on “The freedom to choose…

  1. Sriram Natarajan says:

    I cant really put things into perspective. When it comes to hypocrisy we stand out…. we talk of Arjuna as brihanalla in virata parva, Krishna as Mohini in Aravan Bali. But we cant accept this!

  2. Amrutha says:

    We don’t have the courage to stand up what’s right. We hide behind culture and tradition and yet wax eloquent that Indian culture is the most progressive of it all…and finally, don’t even have the guts to practise it as it originally was…

  3. Sriram Natarajan says:

    cant agree more! we use tradition for our convenience that is all! but when it comes to facing the truths we become chickens!

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