Yesterday evening, a long-lost friend called me up, out of the blue. The very first thing he asked me was, “How do you think the judgement in the 377 case will go?”
I answered that I was trying not to think about it. I am yet to get over the brazen way in which a coterie of backward thinking, opinionated judges circumvented an absolute valid and sane judgement that had read down section 377, to reinstate this obsolete piece of victorian stupidity that violates a citizen’s privacy.
My caller, a young man, in his mid twenties, who is a closet Gay Muslim from a heavily conservative family said, “I am hopeful, in spite of everything. Most educated Indians, even politicians are coming out against this law. They are speaking for LGBT rights.”
It struck me that this young man, was one of thousands of ordinary citizens, who are craving for freedom from oppressive religion-based tyranny. Hemmed in by an ultra conservative family and community; he told me once that a couple of his uncles were conservative Muslim Maulvis; this young man is often conflicted between his orientation and the hardliners he has to encounter day after day. ‘If I come out to my family, I will be shamed and perhaps even killed, I can’t say,’ he had confided.
For this young man, the decision of the Supreme court, if it reads down section 377, granting freedom to those in same sex relationships, will show that the State has the guts to stand up to religious fundamentalism and to protect the rights of all.
It will also open a small window for negotiation, for debate, for broadening the minds of his own peers who often use the argument that it is right to persecute non-heterosexuals because the State itself discriminates against them.
Let’s see what the Supreme Court decides … this one judgement will show the future of India, whether our country and its laws will continue to be influenced by religious fundamentalism and bigotry, or whether we will move to a true separation of State from Church, Mosque, Monastery and Temple .
So many questions are thrown up by the religious right. Without a doubt Section 377 should go. But, then it will become difficult to keep India’s considerable LGBT oriented people under the carpet!