One step in the right direction
Ambassadors involved in the Activity
The rights and opportunities for the LGBTQIA+ community have evolved with recent times. The institution of marriage has been more or less based on male-female relationship since a very long period of time. The concept of same-sex marriage has been accepted only in recent times as the society is slowly evolving towards being more receptive and acceptive towards the LGBTQIA+ community.
Even though the concept of same-sex relations was not really exclusively mentioned in ancient Hindu texts, texts like Arthashastra, Upanishads, Puranas do speak about the concept of homosexuality. In the medieval times, homosexuality was never considered as an offense. It was under the British rule in India, that same-sex relationships were criminalized under section 377 and since then, homosexuality has been considered as immoral and the LGBTQIA+ community came to be considered as miscreants of society.
One of the most landmark incidents which marked the revolution in the struggle for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community was the Stonewall incident in June 1969, which was a series of violent riots and protests by members of the LGBTQIA+ and activists against the police in Greenwich Village, in New York City. Since this incident, the month of June has been celebrated as Pride Month to help recognize the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community and to celebrate their diversity and inclusiveness.
In India, homosexuality was a criminal offense under section 377 of the IPC. This section said “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with [imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.” Thus, through this section we can see that sodomy was a criminal activity and it was considered as an unnatural offense. There are several issues faced by the members of the LGBTQIA+ community like discrimination at workplace which can cause unemployment or poverty and this leads to socio-economic differences for them. Even though the times are changing and the society is progressing, the mentality of some people is still the same and are not sensitized with the people of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to remain oblivious to their problems.
LANDMARK CASES IN INDIA
The right to equality and the right to life and personal dignity come under article 14 and article 21 of the Constitution of India respectively. In the year 2014 the Supreme Court in the case of NALSA vs Union of India recognized transgenders as a ‘third gender’ and passed a judgment saying their fundamental rights are guaranteed under the Indian constitution. The courts further said that they also have a right to life and personal liberty under article 21.
In the landmark case of Navtej Singh Johar vs Union of India, in 2018 the Supreme Court held section 377 of the IPC, which criminalized consensual sexual conduct between 2 adults thus criminalizing homosexuality, as unconstitutional. This was a big win for the members of the LGBTQIA+ community as it meant the first step towards acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community in India.
In the case of S Sushma vs Commissioner of Police in the year 2021 the matter was presented before the Madras High Court. In this case, a major (18+) lesbian couple had moved out of their family homes to live together which was opposed by their parents. In this case the Madras High Court passed a ‘continuous mandamus’ under which directions were given to change the society’s mentality towards the LGBTQIA+ community. The guidelines included banning of all kinds of conversion therapies and making it a punishable offence. The Hon’ble Court also ordered that all educational institutions (private as well as public) should include subjects that educates the younger generations about the LGBTQIA+ community and reduces prejudice and stigma against them.
The LGBTQIA+ community has come a long way and indeed decriminalizing section 377 has been a big win for the community, but the battle is far from over. Change doesn’t occur overnight. As much as judicial interventions are required to protect the rights of this community and bring changes to the society, it is equally important for the citizens to help in the implementation to fasten the process. There must be programs held for raising awareness about the concept of homosexuality as it is our moral duty to educate the ones living in oblivion. Educational institutions must have trained psychologists who can guide students with regard to any queries relating to their mental health, sexuality or any other issue.
It is time we put aside our differences and take a step in the right direction in order to de-stigmatize the prejudice attached to the LGBTQIA+ community so that there is a better tomorrow. Change is a gradual process, but it is really up to us citizens in order to implement these changes and make our society and country an equitable, acceptive and ideal to live in. So let us start gradually by taking one step in the right direction.