Do we ever question our thoughts? Well, homosexuality is an issue which will compel us to do so.
Merriam-Webster defines homosexuality as ‘a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex’. But the moment we read the word “sexual”, we decide to keep it to ourselves. This is where the problem lies. We do not talk about sex at all. Homosexuality, we ask? Miles away!
Indian society specialises in refraining from discussing this issue at all, let alone forming an opinion about it. But even when we do, we tend to think of it as an unnatural relationship which is disallowed by God. We think that it does not belong here, and as the popular belief goes, that it is from the West.
India has modernised in several ways, but it still lags behind in assuring the homosexuals equality. Isn’t it ironic, for our Constitution guarantees equality as a fundamental right? Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code punishes with imprisonment for life, any person who voluntarily has “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”. At its core, therefore, is an intention to enforce a decree against actions that are professed to be “beyond the warrants of the society’s moral compass. Moreover, the law has recognised transgenders, or hijras, after the country-wide struggle of the late 2000s. But it has also overlooked same-sex marriages and criminalised sexual intercourse between two people of the same gender. Clearly, the Constitution doesn’t want us to accept homosexuality. And we haven’t.
So, why have we not? Even in the 21st century? Perhaps, we think that it is a novel idea from the West, which our ancestors wouldn’t have allowed. But it is not so. While homosexuality is not explicitly mentioned in the religious texts central to Hinduism, the religion has taken various positions, ranging from positive to neutral or antagonistic. For instance, the Rigveda says ‘Vikriti Evam Prakriti’ meaning what seems unnatural is also natural. Some scholars believe that this Sanskrit quotation recognises homosexual/transsexual dimensions of human life like all forms of universal diversities. Also, the ancient sculptures at Khajuraho depict same-sex sodomy. So, what we think is false. Homosexuality is definitely not a novel idea in the Indian society.
Does a person not have the right to choose his/her sexual orientation? Is it fair to discriminate people just on the basis of who they prefer to be in bed with? Do we not need to accept them as they are? Humph! Accepting the LGBTQ+ community is no longer our choice, because it never was our choice in the first place.