Section 377’s end today marks a historic change for all of us as Indians — gay, lesbian, transgender, asexual, even straight or otherwise. This is because we have now become a liberal country where loving someone is not a crime. But does this mean that we have overnight become a liberal society? Does decriminalisation of Section 377 mean that Indian society has become accepting of the LGBTQIA+ community?
The battle against bigoted mindset is just half won today. While we may now be a more liberal country with this historic decision, numerous Indians are still far from accepting LGBTQIA+ community as “normal”. Those who are out and proud breathe a sigh of relief today, for not being bound by Section 377. But what about the closet LGBTQIA+ population in our society, which is still in shackles of our conservative mentality?
Time to get rid of discrimination in our homes and heads
So many people cannot live the life they want to and love the person they want to despite decriminalisation of Section 377
Their closet life and struggle with dual identities doesn’t just stem from legal consequences of their sexuality. It stems from the social stigma around it. It stems from branding of an entire spectrum of sexuality as unacceptable, deviant and “unnatural” among their families, friends and peers. They stand at risk of losing their reputation, loved ones and social standing for being what they are. And decriminalisation of Section 377 does very little to solve their problem.
- The Supreme Court of India gave a landmark verdict today, decriminalising Section 377.
- But while we may now be a liberal country, we are far from being an accepting society.
- Today’s verdict should prompt us to be better allies to the LGBTQIA+ community.
- We should try to generate conversation on acceptance of spectrum of sexuality in our homes, and challenge the mindset which marginalises this community.
Even the members of LGBTQIA+ community who are out and proud aren’t immune to hostility and discrimination. They have it even worse. They are constantly shamed and humiliated for their sexuality. So the law may be gone, but the deep roots from which this law stemmed still remain underground, deep in people’s collective mindset. Does this mean that scrapping Section 377 doesn’t change anything? What does it mean for us as a society? What can we take from this decision that will help us mould a better, accepting and liberal social infrastructure? It could start by sparking a conversation.
Today’s verdict should work as a stimulant for a long overdue discussion on the spectrum of sexuality in Indian sitting rooms
Section 377 was the shield behind which many people took refuge for their mindset. “It is wrong because our law says so”. The scrapping of Section 377 should prompt them to put some serious thought to their stand. If some people are having a hard time coming to terms with the Supreme Court’s judgment, if they feel threatened that our culture stands at risk of losing its sanskari sheen, then the hearts of such people are LGBTQIA+ community’s next battleground.
Changing the homophobic mindset of our society is what will make us a truely progressive society. This is not an easy task. But LGBTQIA+ community has won one battle today and it will win this one too eventually. As the number of those who empathise and support LGBTQIA+ cause increases every day, the stakes are slowly leaning in their favour.
For today, do celebrate their victory, but also pledge to be better allies to this community which is not just abused, but assaulted, shamed and even put through humiliating “treatments” for not being what many define as “normal”. We need to stand tall with each other and sensitise people that LGBTQIA+ is fine and “normal” and even glorious. It is those who cannot accept others and cannot find any empathy in their hearts, who need a cure.
Picture Credit: Kirsty Lee
Also Read: Section 377 Decriminalised: Ten Things The Judgment Said
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.