Otherwise known for its splendid, joyous and equally colourful Navratri celebrations, another colourful spectacle unfolded at Vadodara yesterday on 01 July 2018, when the city’s LGBT+ and LGBT allies marched down the streets in its first ever PRIDE march.
The joy and enthusiasm was truly infectious as members of the LGBTQ+ community marched to the rhythm of massive drums, waving rainbow flags and truly living it up with sass and pride. They very symbolically named it the ‘Vadodra Samman Yatra’ (Vadodra Dignity March) and urged one and all to make them feel loved, dignified and most of all unbiasedly included into the mainstream.
Homosexuality was re-criminalised in India, after a ban on the same was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013 after having decriminalised it once in 2009; major cities of India continue to hold Pride marches all year round and also in the ‘Pride Month’ of June. In case you’re intrigued, find out why June is known as Pride Month, here.
Read here, about the extremely retrograde move by the Indian judiciary against Sec377 that deals with
Unnatural offences and states that “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also beliable to fine.”
Explanation — Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.
Over the years Section 377 has sparked numerous controversies and has been challenged in both the High Court of Delhi and the Supreme Court. In 2001, Naz Foundation (India) Trust, a non-governmental organisation challenged Section 377 in the Delhi High Court by filing a lawsuit to allow homosexual relations between consenting adults. They argued that Section 377 should only be applicable to non-consensual penile non-vaginal sex and penile non-vaginal sex involving minors. However, in 2003, the High Court dismissed the case, stating that the Naz Foundation had no standing in the matter (locus standi). The Naz Foundation appealed this dismissal by the High Court to the Supreme Court, which concurred with them and instructed the High Court to reconsider the case. This led to the historic judgement in 2009 by Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar, which decriminalised consensual sexual acts between adults. Furthermore, this judgement was to be in force until the Parliament decided to amend Section 377.
This led to various appeals being made to the Supreme Court, challenging the High Court’s authority to change a law. While the Supreme Court dismissed numerous such appeals and the then Attorney General G. E. Vahanvati made it clear that he wasn’t planning to file an appeal against the verdict of the Delhi High Court; numerous appeals kept being filed challenging the validity of the judgement made by the High Court. Finally on December 11th, 2012 a panel of two Supreme Court judges overturned the decision that the High Court had made in 2009. The judgment stated that the power to amend the law was with the Parliament and not the High Court, thus their (High Court’s) judgment was constitutionally unstable. Thus, the Supreme Court recommended that the Parliament address the matter because only they had the power to amend the existing laws.
Not withstanding Sec377, large metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Chennai and Bangalore have been holding pride marches for a great many years now and are gradually inching towards more and more inclusiveness of queer folk within society at large. All they demand is for people to take off their binary gender glasses and look at gender as being a spectrum of a million, non-binary shades. And when it comes to sex, who someone sleeps with as long as its consensual, is no one else’s business. No one need comment or judge over anyone’s bedroom preferences.
Unfortunately these arguments do not go down well with misguided and ill informed zealots who use religion as their argument to justify prejudice, injustice and worse of all violence against the marginalised few who seek to live life on their own terms.
Ironically, most eastern religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism are tolerant and accepting of all creatures irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientations.
Read about what these religions have to say about homosexuality, here.
Until then our struggle against homophobia continues but we chose to remain happy, proud and gay.
Written by:- Delshad Master