This September we mark two years of the historical struggle against Section 377 of Indian Penal Code. The anti-sodomy law of section 377 criminalised consensual sex among same sex partners. The law has also been (mis)used, as has been documented by many queer rights activists and academics, to perpetuate violence against the queer community. 6th September 2018 marks a historic in this struggle as this colonial law was read down and the queer community was longer under the ambit of criminal justice system.
Anish Gawande spoke to SheThePeople on the future of queer rights, politics and struggles that lie ahead for the community. Anish is a queer rights activist, writer, translator and co-founder of Pinklist India, India’s first archive of politicians supporting LGBTQIA+ rights. He also serves as the Director of Dara Shikoh fellowship, an arts fellowship based in Jammu and Kashmir and is currently a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University.
Section 377: Then and Now
Section 377 in Indian Penal Code is a colonial regime law which persecuted members of the queer community. Despite the existence of this law, queer movements have continued to resist and struggle against traditional forms of gender binary, roles and identities as organised and ordered by patriarchy. “Queerness has always been stigmatised, been treated as outcaste and has had to contest with and against incredibly violent forms of patriarchy” says Anish. He further adds, “So the fight against 377 was a landmark fight not only because it overturned the anti-sodomy law which had become the rallying point for the queer movement for many years but also because it was the one thing that brought together all identities within the LGBTQiA+ spectrum under one umbrella cause”.
Section 377 & Future Possibilities
Anish warns us of the need to tread with caution, “A court verdict does not mean a sort of magical creation of equality overnight. A court verdict now requires us to go above and beyond”.
However, Anish’s caution is not without optimism, “The most important change you are going to see is that more young queer people are coming out than ever before and they are more intersectional and they come from most diverse sets of backgrounds than they ever did before because they are finding themselves on the internet”.
Why It Matters
The marking of any landmark event takes stock of moments of glories and growth. In light of the second anniversary of decriminalisation of homosexuality it is essential to try and unpack the various paths that the queer movement has taken. And, as always look towards and hope for a better future. After all queerness, as Anish says, is about resisting with love and kindness.