Let’s face it… Our argument against crumpling up Article 377 and shoving it in the garbage, where it actually belongs, is archaic, discriminatory, prejudiced and utter nonsense.
I first came across Article 377 while doing my MBA back in 2004. We had to submit a final project in our Law paper for which we were asked to look up any article or law and provide an analysis either for or against it. It was then that I studied it in detail and realized that not only is Article 377 extremely idiotic, it also alienates and harms a section of the society.
Just to put things in perspective, this is what Article 377 states –
- Unnatural offences: 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 term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
First let us establish a few things from the text of Article 377 –
- Carnal intercourse is valid only if there is penetration involved. So technically, lesbians cannot be convicted under this act.
- Intercourse between two consenting heterosexuals (man and woman, if you are not aware of the term) should be only limited to penile-vaginal penetration. Any form of oral or anal sex is punishable.
- Using any sex toys that involve any type of penetration can also have you breaking this law.
- The Article only prohibits “voluntary carnal intercourse”. So, if a man gets raped by another man, there is no legal standing as it was not voluntary.
- You cannot indulge in bestiality (Sex with animals).
- It talks about the “order” of nature… Not the “law” of nature.
Of all these interpretations, I agree with only one aspect. The aspect that bestiality should be punishable by law. This too for two simple logical reasons. Firstly, it is impossible to determine whether an animal had given consent (although in all logical cases the answer is always NO) and secondly, apart from the occasional news about a dolphin humping a human, there are hardly instances of inter species sexual activity (Genitalia are just not built that way).
Leaving aside the absurdity of the law, let us look at why Article 377 must be torn away, doused in sewage and thrown into a volcano. These ones are for the intelligent but skeptical Indian brothers and sisters of mine.
- It is NOT against Indian culture – The Kama Sutra was a text considered as supplementary to the sacred law which deals in great detail with eroticism, sex and its various manifestations created around 4th century BCE. In this text lesbianism is described in detail, as well as the swapping of male female roles with the female being the dominant one and using accessories to penetrate the male. From the text we discover that male homosexuality formed an integral part of Indian sexual life and various homosexual practices are described in detail. Interestingly enough Vatsyayana also mentions that some people “marry” (parigraha) members of their own sex and live together either openly or in secret.
- No one should be socially ostracized for their sexual preference – A person’s sexual preference is their private matter. Recognizing them as criminals or condemning acts that are in no way harming a third person (Unless involuntarily of course!) beats logic.
- Transgenders or “hijras” deserve equal rights and status in society – How long more do we as a country intend to deny rights and equality to a section of society just because the fact that they cannot fill out the gender section in a form? Denying eunuchs or transgenders basic rights as an Indian citizen is not only pathetic, it is also inhumane. So easily you describe them as a menace, not realizing that it is you who made their life miserable.
- “Male rape” is not a figment of imagination – Rape or involuntary/forced sexual activity is not a phenomenon that is confined to women. Numerous men are raped by other men in our country every year. None of these cases are brought to light for exactly the same reasons that female rape was hushed until recently. Shame, disgrace, loss of social respect and fear are some of the main factors. Add to that the lack of legal standing and the potential for being booked under Article 377 are enough to shut all voices.
- If it is against your religion, don’t practice it – I understand that in Islam and Christianity, homosexuality is a sin. If your Holy Book demands that you do not practice it, don’t. It’s that simple. The same way a Muslim cannot force someone to fast during the month of Ramadan and a Christian cannot force someone to go to church on Sunday or a Hindu cannot force someone not to eat beef – do not shove your religious beliefs on others. It is high time religion is kept completely separate from Civil Law.
- Being gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender is not unnatural – Homosexuality is not a feature that is uncommon in nature nor is it a disease. Some men like other men while others don’t. Some women prefer sexual simulations that are not penile while others do. Some people tend to be confused about their sexuality or prefer both sexes while most others are sure of theirs. Some individuals biologically, physically or emotionally relate to a gender other than the one they are born with while a majority are comfortable they way they are. HOW EXACTLY IS THAT TOO DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND???????
As a country that prides itself on its diversity of culture, language, traditions, religions and what not, it is a shame that we cannot accept diversity of sexual orientation. It is high time we took down a law that was formed by the Catholic Church influenced British government 156 years ago and accept everyone into our society. Making homosexuality illegal is not going to eradicate it from society, it will continue to exist. If 156 years was not enough, I do not think another 156 years will make any changes.
Now for those unintelligent, biased, moronic, close minded readers of this article. Here are 2 simple reasons why getting rid of Article 377 will not affect you.
- Decriminalizing homosexuality will NOT make you gay or lesbian overnight.
- Guys will NOT have gay men hitting on you or girls have lesbian women checking you out at stores at every given opportunity. First of all, it might already be happening without your knowledge. Secondly, just like you, even they have certain standards.