The Constitution of India provided us with the fundamental rights under Article 15 which states that “Prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.” Howsoever, we all violate this as, irrespective of the modern times, we are failing to give lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (#LGBT) their rights to live in freedom.
When we hear that someone belongs to the LGBT community — many terms come to our minds — “Kinnar”, “Chakkas”, “Meetha”, “Lunj”, “Khasuya”. There are several regional terms that we use to address the LGBT community in India.
Sometimes being an LGBT means losing your loved ones, treated as a joke in the friend’s circle, labelled as a black sheep of the house, abused by unknown people, avoided as you might taint their social image, forced by society to lock yourself in a closet and compelled to die in isolation as you don’t deserve a life and discarded as abnormal.
Most of the time these people struggle to make the world realize that they are normal and nothing is wrong with them. This eternal fight is deadly as your body says something and your emotion the other. In the beginning, children born in this way start lying to themselves, become a slave of the society, and start living in the way they are not. In many places in India, children and adults are punished for their sexual choice and orientation.
Chapter XVI, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code dating back to 1860, which was introduced during the British rule in India, criminalizes sexual activities “against the order of nature”, including bisexual activities. The section was decriminalized with respect to sex between consenting adults by the high court in 2009 and from then many judgments were overturned by the Supreme Court. Recently India’s Supreme Court issued a historic ruling confirming the right of the country’s LGBT people to “express their sexuality without discrimination”.
According to a 2017 poll carried out by International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, 58% of Indian people were agreed that Gay, Lesbian and Bisexuals people enjoy the same right as straight people, while 30% disagreed. Additionally, 59% agreed that they should be protected from workplace discrimination. 39% of Indians, however, said that people who are Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexuals should be charged as criminals.
As for transgender, 66% of Indian people agreed that they enjoy the same, and 62% agreed that they should be protected from workplace discrimination. Nearly 1,500 were arrested last year under India’s anti-gay law. The British, who enacted the law, got rid of it in the 1960s in England. Many countries have got rid of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender law and now it’s high time for India to do the same.
From the last few years, the scenario is changing as Manabi Bandyopadhyay (become the first openly transgender college principal), Sushant Divigikar (Mr. India Gay 2014), Laxmi Narayan (trans activist), Manil Suri (India-American mathematician and writer), Prince Manvendra Singh (first openly gay prince) were those people who worked with LGBT youth and are perfect examples of breaking the stereotype. However, multiple Indian athletes have been subjected to humiliation and decimation on the grounds of a medical checkup and some also committed suicide.
While the Supreme Court is doing a great job by the ruling and judgments that bring good hope among the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, there are many court decisions that are still pending and need to be decided. For instance, anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services, same-sex marriage, prohibition of LGBT people to serve openly in the military, and right to change legal gender and bisexuality declassified as an illness.
In February 2014, the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) issued a statement that stated that there is no evidence to prove that bisexuality is unnatural. Though many religions consider bisexuality as a sin, which conducts against the order of nature and considers any individual is falling under this category is criminal. According to many religious books, gender was a fluid concept. If we refer to some ancient texts, we come across many instances where famous deities change their gender to perform a certain purpose. In ancient times, the bisexuality line was blurred. As in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that “he is the only male rest all are the females, nothing is unnatural if it exists”.
LGBT people around the world face violence and inequality and sometimes torture because of who they are, what they love and how they give the impression of being. Several LGBT people fled to other countries where they are treated as equal to straight people. LGBT community is doing a great job to safeguard their rights as discrimination against an individual by sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity of an individual. We must respect and love in the same way we want it to be reciprocated. Society is made by us and little change will not harm society. Let’s make India a place where every gender is welcomed with open arms!