Homosexuality, a topic rarely discussed, explored, or even talked about, is trending these days. Homosexuality was a criminal act and people engaging in such relations could be punished by the law in Colonial India. When India became independent in 1947, the LGBTQ community didn’t receive any recognition. However, in recent years, the general public has become more aware of their existence. On September 6 2018, the battle of legalising homosexuality was won, when the supreme court of India declared section 377 as non-democratic. Now, do you think this is the complete story? No, sadly not. The LGBT community has gone through a lot and is still facing various problems.
The rainbows of the past
Most People who often discriminate against homosexuality are those who try to justify their hate by calling it a “disease”. They see it as something that is against the Indian culture, customs and traditions. Ancient India is often imagined as religious and rich with resources(both material and non-material), free from many modern-day taboos. In the book “Kama Sutra” by Vatsayana, in the 2nd part, chapter 9, it clearly describes oral sex and how it can be used by same-sex people for pleasure. Another incident in “Mahabharat” describes Brihnalla(enuch), a form, Arjun stayed in for a year during his exile.
The gender fluidity of Hindu deities is also admirable.”Ardhnareshwar”, is a form of Shiva who is half man, half woman. Mohini is an enchantress form of Vishnu(which he took to deceive asura and gain the pot of elixir of immortality). There are same-sex relations between deities too. Agni(God of Fire) and Soam(The Moon God) are same-sex couples. Agni married the goddess Svaha. All these incidents prove that homosexuality was never a taboo in the ancient times. Even in Sangam literature, there are few evidences of same-sex relationships like one of king Kopperuncholan and Pisuranthaiyar.
What is the current situation?
In India where sex is a taboo subject, people avoid talking about the LGBT community in general. The LGBTQ community lives in a harsh world, despite the success of section 377. Those in rural India still suffer the same fate of social excusion and discrimination. To the Indian society, being homosexual isn’t right and it is against the laws of nature. Gay men with no money, contacts and support, often run away from their homes into the cruel world. Lesbian women often endure rape. Honor killing is very common in India, in these cases.
On various accounts, Baba Ramdev, godman and the face of Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd. claimed that homosexuality is a mental disorder and completely unnatural. According to him, yoga and his medicine at Patanjali yogpeeth can cure homosexuality. This mindset is very unprogressive and dangerous as it may lead to the spread of hoax and false inormation.
What does the future promise?
Seeing the development in recent years and awareness about the LGBTQ community, the future seems promising for them. Influencers and political leaders throughout the world are supporting homosexuality. LGBTQ community in India was able to get support from Former Finance Minister and BJP member, Arun Jaitley, BJP spokesperson, Shaina NC, Indian national congress president, Rahul Gandhi etc.
Akkai Padmashali, an activist played a major role in protesting and scraping section 377. Although the great battle is over, rebuilding a society where LGBTQ community fits in, is still pending. Our only hope is that the future generations carry on the legacy of their ancestors and remember the sacrifices they made in their fight against the beliefs of society and culture.