No matter what we do, when we talk of India and the LGBTQ+ community, we proudly start off with the decriminalization of the IPC Section 377.
But, what after that?
While it’s no doubt that the country has collectively become inclusive, we also slowly drift away. We now share different purposes and motives across all the states. Our community has become a lot like any other. With divisions purely on the basis of human ideologies like money, class, caste and religion.
We see this stark contrast between LGBTQ+ members in Mumbai and Delhi. Mumbai is accepting of corporate money. They allow corporates to add their logos to banners etc during Pride Parades. This was in motion much before Section 377 was read down.
Delhi, on the other hand, is more independent. They try to raise money for the community and try their best to support their community without the touch of corporate.
As it turns out, community members in each city across India have made their own choices and often appear distant from each other.
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If this is the case, how is India to go forward?
The closest the community got to be on the same page was when the Lawyer’s Collective held national meets. These were often held to discuss the cases against Section 377 and how it was faring in the courts.
The strongest display of collective joy was last September with the decriminalization of 377.
That has been, to this day, the peak in the LGBTQ+ community. While there have been some notable moments since:
- The Madras High Court in April upheld Transgender Marriage Rights.
- Sprinter Dutee Chand came out in a same-sex relationship in may
However, we saw otherwise soon after. When it came to the Lok Sabha elections and the discussion on the post-Section 377 sense of freedom, the debates shift our focus from human rights to our personal political preferences.
Moreover, corporations in and around India have suddenly shown allyship almost overnight. Magazines suddenly want to represent the trans community, clubs are becoming more queer-friendly. Corporations are banking on “representation” as marketing movements, knowing this will gain supporters and media attention. Even some film celebrities have come out to say how “normal” we are and that India should allow same-sex marriages.
However, what’s the most saddening is the fact that none of these corporations nor celebrities spoke up earlier. They were neither there for the community nor with it during the darkest days. While, of course, these voices matter, they are often in sync with a festive phase and give a blind eye when in a struggle.
While there has been growing visibility of queer people, there have been growing hate crimes too. Multiple of these are often not even brought up or reported. Some make it to the news like the Lesbian who was tied to a tree and beaten in Odisha. But what about the numerous attacks on the community, especially these days on the trans community. What about the numerous blackmail cases, exploiting and the constant stigmatisation of the community.
How do we solve this together?
This new celebration is much needed, we can’t digress. But this new-found freedom isn’t the end, but the very beginning for a long fight. Or worse, the Section may be put into place again like the case of 2012.
The law doesn’t change the fact that society is no-where close to accepting the new. Bullying, discrimination and denied rights and health benefits are still occurrences to people from the community in all walks of life.
The only way for systematic change is to create a single system. One that integrates the views and thoughts of the community and develops a strategy that will help overcome the “what’s next?”. Hopefully, this separation is only a small pause before a larger regroup.
Till then, we celebrate the courage and bravery that exists amongst the LGBTQIA+ and continue to share our pride and love.