Gay in India – You’re Illegal!

Oh thou moralists, wake up!


Credit: AFP
Credit: AFP

We recently heard the Supreme Court declaring that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code cannot be struck down, making gay sex now illegal in India. We felt violated! Gay or straight, whatever our orientation might be, a bunch of moralists sitting in that closed room have now allowed the government to enter our private lives to tell us what is sexually permissible and what is not. A majority of Indian brethren might categorize this ruling as a NIBY – not in my backyard; a ruling concerning mostly the Indian gay community. In reality, it affects us all!

Gay sex has been called as “unnatural”, “carnal intercourse” that’s against the order of nature. We might not be far from the day when these same great minds  view premarital sex (between a man and a woman) against the order of nature! Tomorrow, the same moralists may decide that even if a girl is pregnant from rape, she cannot abort the fetus because it is against the order of nature! Gradually, some other great minds might argue that a woman should not leave a home in the evening or work because it is against the order of nature. The same moralists might argue that all men should grow beards, wear turbans and not indulge in any temptation. Point is, “being natural” is a very subjective term and once we allow public servants and democratically elected governments to force us to follow those outdated traditional systems, gradually our democratic rights will start receding.


No harm in following and protecting traditions and values. We love Indian culture as much as those moralists do. We also appreciate sexuality – all forms of it with great fervor! Ever check out the book of Kamasutra or the Khujuraho temples (See images on Trails and Trails, blog by Varun Chandramohan)? Kamasutra talks about great detail in men pleasuring men, and women pleasuring women. So that which was not “unnatural” from ancient Indian times, is suddenly “unnatural” now?

Recently, the spiritual guru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar stated, “Homosexuality has never been considered a crime in Hindu culture. In fact, Lord Ayyappa was born of Hari-Hara (Vishnu and Shiva). Homosexuality is not a crime in any Smriti. Everyone has male and female elements. According to their dominance, tendencies show up and may change.”


Nevertheless, if our culture violates basic human rights, then it is our responsibility as a civil society to rectify it. The incorrect interpretation of Sati by ultraconservative Indians led to women being compelled to immolate themselves after the husband died (often to ensure the wife is not raped by others in the community or warring tribes). As we evolved, we rectified and modified that tradition, making Sati illegal.

Moralists purport that supporting gay rights today, opens gates to hell and rampant child abuse, child pornography, sodomy, prostitution, and the list goes on and on. Suffice to say civilized societies assume children are vulnerable who cannot make decisions of their own – and thus we define an “appropriate” age when they become “adults”. Two “consenting adults” must have the right to enjoy sex in whatever way they want. We are born with that entitlement in a free society!

Lastly, an Indian cultural rampage doesn’t end without blaming the West! Certainly then the Kamasutra must have been written by a lecherous Westerner!

Love and sex (we advocate only consensual, safe sex) have no boundaries, no religion and no culture. In fact it has a universal culture. Homosexuality is a discovery and a part of natural human orientation!


What’s a bit concerning is the deafening silence from gay filmmakers, gay politicians, gay fashion designers – everyone who has fan following, power and influence, but just don’t want to get their hands dirty! Of course, unless we are saying that we have no homosexuals in India, just like Iran.

We were expecting closeted gay icons like Karan Johar, Manish Malhotra, Rohit Bal to finally come out and fight for gay rights, rather than issuing 1-line twitter feeds. We don’t just need humorous insinuations about gay culture in India via Indian cinema anymore – we need strong, collective voices to demand rights for the LGBT community in India!

For now, the Supreme Court has decided that the government has the right to regulate the sexual behavior. If you believe in living a life with basic fundamental rights, then today is the day to raise a voice against this ruling. This is a travesty of justice and we must protest – not for others – but for our future generations and ourselves!

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