Her hand is as warm as your wife’s. Her love makes me feel just as wonderful as your girlfriend makes you feel. Why is it wrong for me to love my girl when you can love yours?
His smile lights up my day just like the way your boyfriend’s does and when he cries I hold him tight. Why can’t I hug him the way you hug yours?
During the 1950s it was illegal, even dangerous, to be a part of any pro-gay organisation and members had to protect themselves by using a code. It was a time when even those who fought for gay rights had to hide in the closet. It was a time when AIDS was attributed to being homosexual, comparing them to lepers spreading disease. It was the time when the gay rights movement started.
Today we see a different picture. The 21st century marks great advancement in the gay rights movement with milestone achievements in the last few years and ones yet to come. 19 August 2013 marks the date when fifteen countries allowed the marriage of same-sex couples. In the United Kingdom, a law permitting the same will come into effect on 29 March 2014. And on 11 December 2013, gay sex was criminalised in India, the world’s largest democracy. In the advancing momentum of the gay rights movement across the world, this is the roadblock.
The Supreme Court of India upheld Section 377, a 153 year old law born from the colonial era, which sets back our LGBT community. The SC verdict hasn’t been received well by the people of India and has attracted the attention of the US who also frowns upon the judgement. It appears that society has changed, people have changed but this law has not changed. This is the century where we continue to press play and move on but India has hit the pause button for the LGBT community. What does this say about us as a nation? Can we still claim that we are progressing? The answer is no, we cannot.
“Love cannot be jailed, it will prevail.”
It is sad to say that in India, murders and rapes are committed and justice is not meted out fast enough to the guilty parties but we are quick to penalise the gay community. And for what? What crime have they commited? They have not killed anyone. They have not hurt anyone. They are just being true to themselves. And apparently that is a crime in our nation.
On the other hand, Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country, decriminalised homosexuality almost 20 years ago and will hold a referendum in 2015 to discuss whether gay marriage should be legalised or not. While they are moving forward, step by step, India has taken a huge leap backwards making the total number of countries criminalising homosexuality from 76 to 77.
Even religion, usually an unwelcome and unforgiving place for gay people, is changing. Pope Francis when asked about gays said, “Who am I to judge?” and backed up this controversial statement by saying that the Church could not interfere spiritually with their lives.
Hence, it is imperative that Section 377 is amended and ultimately wiped off the pages of the constitution like the unwelcome stain that it is. This is the time to speak up and make a difference because at the end of the day, gay rights are human rights. We are all human beings and we should be able to love whoever we want.
* I tend to speak passionately about gay rights and it’s often been mistaken that I’m gay myself. Just because someone is passionate about gay rights does not necessarily mean they are gay just like standing up for animal rights does not make someone an animal. Also, don’t insult someone by calling them gay, that’s not a bad thing and you’re propagating backward stereotypes with what has become such a casual remark.