People who belabour homosexuality in the society, terming it to be a disease (of the mind & soul) suffer themselves from a serious and dangerous affliction; namely, homophobia. By the way, homophobia described as fear and contempt of gay and lesbians, is pretty much prevalent in our society. Through our literature, films and religious sermons, the caretakers of morality have repeatedly emphasised that homosexuals were different and dangerous; labelled as queer.
Indeed that stereotype built up over the ages still enshrouds our mind, so much so that if we were to know a friend or a colleague is a gay, snide comments will be passed and in all probability he or she would be socially segregated. Till sometime back it was believed that AIDs was borne out of same-sex relations. And the biggest opposition to same-sex relations came from organized religion be it Catholic, Hindu or Islamic.
The prejudice is so strong that if a man accidently brushes his hand against our crotch even in a crowded train; we immediately react with alacrity and would stare down at the man as if he is infested with worms and maggots. In fact, consider the terms that are used to refer to a gay or a lesbian; terms like faggots, queer, etc. In Mumbai we refer to them as ‘Gud’ (adding ‘Saala’ as an appendage) or Bombay Dost (based on the gay magazine published by Ashok Row Kavi).
Ironically, Homosexuality or the rather scientific term LGBT has been pretty common in the ancient times. Even the gods of yore frequently tipped the scale on both the ends, Zeus could not resist Ganymede or even rather strange inference by many of how Ganesha was born(e) by Parvati and Malini. I suggest that you do a Google on “god and homosexuality” and you will be surprised by the results thrown up.
And yet, for all the broadmindedness of the ancients like Greek pederasty, we the modern Homosapiens have been much intolerant of the sexual orientation of individuals. The worst instance of discrimination that I can think about was the incarceration of Oscar Wilde for his alleged affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. Wilde was made to suffer for “the love that dare not speak its name”.
Sadly, the same provisions that were applied and used against Wilde in 1895 continued to be used in India thanks to the colonial legacy. But thankfully, that changed today as the Delhi High Court came out with a landmark judgement by quashing the provisions of IPC 377 that applied to consensual sex between gays and lesbians. With one swipe, the court removed an unjust and unfair act that compelled individuals to hide behind curtains and be ashamed of their sexuality.
“In our view, Indian constitutional law does not permit the statutory criminal law to be held captive by the popular misconception of who the LGBTs (lesbian gay bisexual transgender) are. It cannot be forgotten that discrimination is the antithesis of equality and that it is the recognition of equality which will foster dignity of every individual.” (Excerpt from the judgement)
Nonetheless, the brouhaha around the issue as hyped up by the media is fairly disconcerting, since the term “legalizing homosexuality” is quite confusing, it almost seems like “legalizing rape” or “legalizing burglary”. Semantically speaking, it is more like “decriminalizing homosexuality” than anything else. The other day, my dad was watching all those gay parades on the news channels and the argument on “legalizing homosexuality”; and there was shock, anguish and anger writ on his face. As if now, we all will be forced by law to make out with gays and lesbians. The frown on his upper-story disappeared only when I explained to him the real picture, and what legalizing actually meant. I firmly believe that the media right now doing a grave disservice by improper usage of terminology and thus in a way promoting homophobia.
Meanwhile, let’s all hail the modern or as I termed Homo-sapienic ruling by the Delhi HC. And let’s hope that revulsion and fear associated with same sex love will vanish with time as more and more couples step out from the closet. Wonder, when will Shahrukh Khan (SRK) and Karan Johar admit it all over Koffee? Or are they really just ‘good buddies’?