The Supreme Court has decided to reconsider its 2013 decision on Section 377, which criminalises consensual sex between two same-sex partners. This in itself is a big win for the LGBTQ community. Many people have faced hatred, bias and have been socially ostracized merely because of their sexual preference. Decriminalisation same-sex relationship between two consenting adults will help many lead dignified lives, just like everyone else.

Many folks and celebrities came out in support of the LGBTQ community, saying that it is about time we reconsider our legal stand for the sake and well-being of millions of people.

However, some did not shy away from hurling acrid words at both the LGBTQ community and the decision to reconsider the 2013 SC ruling on Section 377.

People’s reaction to the news on social media and especially on Twitter makes it clear that decriminalisation on its own is not enough to break the stigma associated with alternative sexual preference in our country.

The society seems to be at loggerheads. For many, any variant sexual orientation apart from a heterosexual relationship is not acceptable.

Most of us grew up in conservative households where sex is considered only as a means of procreation and everything associated with it is not to be discussed openly. We struggle to give children proper sexual education, even in schools. How then, do we create awareness in common population about LGBTQ rights?

A large section of the society believes a heterosexual relationship is the only acceptable form of sexual orientation. Also, many people seem to think that the “ideology” of homosexuality stems from western culture. They think that the “concept” of homosexuality is not a part of Indian culture, hence we need to resist the cause.

Any number of evidence provided by scientific studies have been shoved into the corner them.

The Indian Psychiatric Society released an official statement, that there was no evidence to substantiate the belief that homosexuality is a mental illness or disease.

The American Psychological Association also came out with an article in 2003, which quoted “Being Gay is as healthy as being straight”.

If studies are to be believed, homosexuality is prevalent in the animal kingdom as well. According to an article on News Medical Life Sciences, homosexual behaviour has been observed in 1,500 animal species.

The researchers are still studying sexual behaviour in the animal kingdom, considering the sheer number of species, they must take into consideration. The only difference between animals and humans, in this case, is that animals do not discriminate against homosexual animals, but we do.

Homosexuality has been time and again called a disease, a deviance, a disorder and an immoral act. However, it is just a natural sexual orientation.

That is the basic fact that we need to tell everyone in our society. By refusing to integrate LGBTQ community into the mainstream we are denying them dignity.

To decriminalise same-sex relationship goes beyond just giving people freedom of expression. It is about living a life without shame. It is about not having to lie to parents and friends, due to the fear of repercussions. The fact that we use it as an insult or as an instrument to hold someone’s life and dignity by its neck is shameful to say the least.

Deep down, many of us still feel uncomfortable at the mention of LGBTQ and section 377. We want to move away from the conversation, because we actually don’t know where we stand. Our mind tells to be liberal and accepting. But the conservative values pummeled into our conscience since a young age, hold us back.

Making amendments to Section 377 or decriminalising homosexuality/bisexuality/transgender sexuality, is a small step. Unless we make an active effort to erase the social stigma around it, the battle is far from being won.

Picture credit: bianet.org

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Dr Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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