Last year, thousands of people marched in the Delhi Queer Pride Parade. Colourful and united, they stood proud of who they are. However, they were up against a nation that refused to recognise their identity masquerading behind “justice” and “equality”.
The LGBT community of India has taken big strides in coming out and claiming their rights. But they still have a long way to with regards to rights and an even longer way with regards to acceptance.
The country that celebrates diversity has the presence of the ‘third’ gender in its history since a very long time. Yet they are ostracised, judged, discriminated and many times tortured, both mentally and physically.
Psychology has replaced the term ‘gender identity disorder’ with ‘gender dysphoria’. It has depathologized it and disproves claims that their capabilities are abnormal or that they are “faking” it.
The first legal gay marriage took place in Amsterdam in 2001. Many countries followed suit, most being Western and European though they still don’t give all the rights.
However, India or to be precise, Indian judiciary and legislation refuses to accept the LGBT community. Though the Delhi High Court upheld the need for the decriminalisation of homosexual intercourse, the Supreme Court overruled it in the famous Suresh Kumar Koushal vs. Naz Foundation case.
Even today, section 377 of Indian Penal Code that’s based on 19th century Victorian morality, penalises homosexual sex. The “crime” is of going “against the order of nature” that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Shashi Tharoor brought a bill to the Legislative Assembly for decriminalisation of homosexuality but it got rejected.
The root of the problem remains in the social stigma towards the community. And most of the politicians who frame the law and the judges who interpret the law are but a product of the society.
However, the community has made a stand for itself in the past decade. Though their needs stand largely unheard, they aren’t giving up. Yes, they have a long way to go. But change, no matter how small, creates ripples that will become waves in time.