One would assume that after Section 377 was scrapped, society would become a more accepting and open-minded place. It was assumed that at the very least politicians and members of the government would be more inclusive. These assumptions were proved wrong when Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh decided to imply that being homosexual was not just derogatory but also that being labelled as such is disrespectful.
MP Raksha Khadse was incorrectly tagged as homosexual on Bharatiya Janta Party’s official website due to an alleged translation error. This incident was caused by Google Translate. Bharatiya Janta Party’s website has an option to display the page in Hindi or English. Khadse’s constituency is named Raver in Hindi, but after translating to English it translated to ‘homosexual’.
This incident could have remained an unfortunate translation error but unfortunately, Anil Deshmukh tweeted this –
Shocking to see such a derogatory description of Raksha Khadse, BJP MP from Maharashtra on the official site of the BJP. Maha Govt. will not tolerate this disrespectful behaviour towards women. @BJP4India must take action against those responsible or @MahaCyber1 will step in. https://t.co/wKVilGB79I— ANIL DESHMUKH (@AnilDeshmukhNCP) January 27, 2021
Why Is This An Issue?
While the description of Khadse was inaccurate, there was no need to call it a derogatory description or disrespectful. What is derogatory about being a homosexual? By claiming that the translation error was disrespectful, Deshmukh has shed light on his beliefs of queerness.
Contrary to what Deshmukh and others might believe, being misidentified as homosexual is not an insult. Being queer is not derogatory and not something to be ashamed of. Deshmukh’s comment does nothing but reminds queer people everywhere that at most, their presence is tolerated in politics.
The misidentification of Khadse as homosexual is harmful to the gay community. Furthermore, this fact was mentioned in the tweet Deshmukh replied to.
Who runs the official site of the Bjp @JPNadda which demeans your Maharashtra MP, Raksha Khadse & the gay community by describing her as a “homosexual”? pic.twitter.com/yY1o3flKkG— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) January 27, 2021
Unfortunately, he chose to completely ignore that fact and went on to imply that being gay is shameful. His tweet brings several questions to mind. What makes the description derogatory? How is this description disrespectful towards women?
The most probable answer is that Deshmukh believes that being called homosexual is derogatory. He also believes that being labelled as a homosexual is disrespectful, after all what type of respectful woman would be gay?
How Does This Affect The Queer Community?
This reaffirms what most of the queer community already knew, that there is a lot of progress to be made. The decriminalisation of sex does not erase the years of heteronormativity that have shaped the nation. According to the 2020 Pew Research, only 37 percent said that homosexuality should be accepted in society. Conversion therapy is still being performed in India, and often leads to depression, suicide, anxiety, drug use, and seizures, etc. There have been many reports of harassment, violence, and abuse directed towards members of the LGBTQ+ community over the years.
Why Is Being Labelled As Homosexual Derogatory?
Comments like these made by politicians remind us that performative actions ultimately make no difference. Political parties claim to support members of the LGBTQ+ community and then their own members make their homophobia apparent.