With my short stint as a Queer Expressionist-Activist, I have realized one thing, hetero-normativity and Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code disturbs not only the Queer Community, but every other human being who decides to love another human being in a way that is different from a penile-vaginal carnal intercourse ‘validated by nature’, in the country.
So, the fight is not just for ‘Gay Rights’, but the fight is basically to gain the right of two (or more) mutually consenting adults having a freedom in their bedroom and the society. A condom is rendered criminal by this section, because it stands ‘unnatural’. So is fellatio and anal intercourse between any two individuals, irrespective of their sex or gender. So, virtually more than half of India’s population should be grinding stones in jail, and they dare to call it a miniscule ‘minority’.
But we still have people like Bishal Dey, a student of Presidency University, Kolkata, who think that it doesn’t matter what 377 says. He says that he has been continuing to do in his bedroom what he pleases without invoking the judiciary, and hence the government or judiciary does not matter. It is also an oft repeated argument that some of the opponents of LGBT rights in India use when they say, “We do no have a problem with the LGBT community. You can do whatever you want in your bedroom, but why do you need to decriminalize this kind of sex?” Bishal also points out that ‘government ke kichhu bojhate hobena, nije bojho’ (you do not need to explain anything to the government, understand it yourself).
This is where the fight lies, to understand why the government has no say in the space owned by mutually consenting adults, and to make the government understand that. People like Jia, a queer activist from Kolkata, resonate the concerns about 377, saying that the government owns no right to interfere in the personal sex life of two mutually consenting adults. She expresses herself vociferously, “Straight or gay or anything else…my sex life is none of their business.”
While we scream this out, we need to consciously understand that scrapping the said Section would do little. Societal attitudes need to change as well. And as Jia rightly points out, it is the next fight. Primarily, we as social beings cannot isolate our existences from the society. So while some may be comfortable by being invisible and non-existent in the eyes of the society, some of us might claim an iota of acceptance and visibility. So if this social change needs to be initiated through a change in the law, which definitely provides more security to the members of the queer community, then so be it.
The country is erupting in demonstrations and explanations of multiple viewpoints around Section 377. So, if you stand somewhere close to one such demonstration, do attend it. If not, start one yourself. We stand here with our future in our hands. Let us make what we can out of it.
(The views of all the people involved in this article, including the author, are personal. The author’s interpretation is so, too.)