Monday, January 30, 2006

From: The Hindu, The state of the union

While sexual minorities are gaining acceptance all around the world, civil and marital rights are a faraway dream here, finds out RAKESH MEHAR

Last month, Amrut watched and cheered as Elton John and his long-time partner David Furnish celebrated their civil partnership, becoming the most famous benefactors of the United Kingdom's Civil Partnership Act that legalises same-sex unions. Later, he watched as Brokeback Mountain, a gay Western directed by Ang Lee, overcame controversies to win critical acclaim at the Golden Globe Awards. Just last week, he read on the Internet that DePaul University in Chicago, the largest Catholic University in the U.S., has launched a "Queer Studies" programme, despite Vatican's rabid anti-homosexuality stance. Sadly, he says, for him and thousands others of the sexual minorities in India, these events overseas only reflect the lack of change here.

Distant milestone

In India, say Amrut and others, civil and marital rights are a faraway dream that might not be realised for a decade or more. A far greater challenge that still blocks this path is Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises all forms of sexual orientation that don't conform to the normative heterosexist ideal. The presence of Section 377 creates a framework of harassment, in which sexual minorities live in a state of fear. There are a number of documented cases of violence and harassment on the basis of this law, the most recent being the entrapment and arrest of four men in Lucknow, on the basis of profiles of themselves they had posted on a website. However, for every case that is documented, scores of others go unnoticed, particularly those involving working-class sexual minorities.

According to Elavarthi Manohar, who works with Sangama, a sexuality minorities' rights group, the challenges multiply for working-class minorities because they do not possess safe spaces that those of the middle or upper middle class have access to. Moreover, most activist groups in the country are largely representative of English-speaking gays and lesbians, and working-class minorities often do not have a voice or a platform for their grievances.

Seeking normalcy

One of the primary realisations that members of sexual minorities hope for is that their relationships and lifestyles are as "normal" and subject to many of the same challenges that heterosexual relationships are subjected to. And it is this mainstreaming of alternative sexual orientations that they believe will take place with the legalisation of same-sex unions. As Bala, a senior management consultant, puts it: "Most people think gay lifestyles are all about sex. What they need to see is that we have the same emotional needs as heterosexual individuals. If that happens, then there will probably be greater understanding and acceptance."

A more practical aspect of legalised same-sex unions is that legal issues such as inheritance are then treated on the same level as heterosexual marriages. At present, many everyday benefits that heterosexuals take for granted aren't available to those of the sexual minorities. As one gay man in a long-term relationship put it: "We always worry about what happens if one of us falls sick or dies, or if we ever want to adopt a child and so on. In a marriage, you take all these things for granted." Mahesh, who works for an IT company, explains that he faces many of the same problems because his organisation doesn't have policies relating to same-sex partnerships. The easiest example is in the case of travel allowances. "Whenever my married colleagues travel, there are allowances for their spouses and families. However, I don't get any such benefits because the company claims they can't legally give them to me. In effect, I'm subsidising other people's marriages. It makes me feel like a second class citizen."

However, in demanding marital rights, there is also a conscious understanding of the fact that marriage as an institution also has its problems. Manohar explains that marriage as a unit supports certain kinds of oppression. He says that there is a need, therefore for the sexual minorities to find other viable relationship models.

Although some semblance of a sexual minorities' rights movement has begun to appear in most metros, the issue still fails to get the kind of visibility that other human rights issues have managed. Arvind Narrain, a lawyer with the Alternative Law Forum and a well-known activist for sexual minorities' rights, explains that part of the problem is the lack of understanding of the politics of sexuality. "It is still very difficult to talk about sexuality, because it is treated as an area of shame and fear. That makes it hard for the issue to gain visibility." A part of the blame also lies with the rights groups and the community at large, says Manohar. "Wherever sexuality minorities have won their rights, it's because people came out on the streets and fought for it. Here, that kind of activism hasn't happened on a large scale yet. There have been sporadic protests around the country, but no sustained movements."

The situation has improved over the years, however. Manohar explains that in a previous instance when four men in Lucknow were arrested on the basis of their sexual orientation, protests around the country began only after a month, and the detainees were kept in prison for close to six weeks. In the more recent arrest, however, a full report was made about the issue in three days, and protests began immediately, resulting in bail soon.

What many activists want to establish is that in asking for these rights, the sexual minorities aren't demanding special privileges. "We don't want special rights. We just want the right to not be subjected to special discrimination," explains one activist.

Monday, January 16, 2006

From: OpenSpace:Resource from LGBT Hindus: The Gay and Lesbian

Hinduism and sexuality

Hindu texts have discussed variations in gender and sexuality for more than two millennia. Like the erotic sculptures on ancient Hindu temples at Khajuraho and Konarak, sacred texts in Sanskrit constitute irrefutable evidence that a whole range of sexual behaviour was known to ancient Hindus. Traditions of representing same-sex desire in literature and art continued in medieval Hinduism.

The sacred Hindu epics and the Puranas, compendia of devotional stories, depict gods, sages and heroes springing from ayoni sex. Ayoni sex never became a major topic of debate, nor was it categorized as an unspeakable crime. There is no evidence of anyone in India ever having been executed for same-sex relations.

Hindu scriptures contain many surprising examples of diversity in both sex and gender. Medieval texts narrate how the god Ayyappa was born of intercourse between the gods Shiva and Vishnu when the latter temporarily took a female form. A number of 14th-century texts in Sanskrit and Bengali (including the Krittivasa Ramayana, a devotional text still extremely popular today) narrate how hero-king Bhagiratha, who brought the sacred river Ganga from heaven to earth, was miraculously born to and raised by two co-widows, who made love together with divine blessing. These texts explain that his name Bhagiratha comes from the word bhaga (vulva), because he was born of two vulvas. Another sacred text, the fourth-century Kamasutra, emphasizes pleasure as the aim of intercourse. It categorizes men who desire other men as a "third nature." The text goes on to subdivide such men into masculine and feminine types and describes their lives and typical occupations (including flower sellers, masseurs and hairdressers). The Kamasutra also includes a detailed description of oral sex between men and refers to long-term unions between male partners. Hindu medical texts dating from the first century also provide taxonomies of gender and sexual variations, including same-sex desire.

Modern trends and views Hindu philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti said that homosexuality, like heterosexuality, has been a fact for thousands of years, and that it becomes a problem only because humans focus too much on sex. When asked about homosexuality, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the international Art of Living movement, said, "Every individual has both male and female in them. Sometimes one dominates, sometimes other; it is all fluid."

Mathematician Shakuntala Devi, in her 1977 book The World of Homosexuals, interviewed Srinivasa Raghavachariar, head priest of the Srirangam temple. Raghavachariar said that same-sex partners must have been cross-sex partners in a former life. The sex may change, he said, but the soul retains its attachments; hence love impels them toward one another.

When, in 2002, Hindu scholar Ruth Vanita interviewed a Shaiva priest who had performed the marriage ceremony for two women, the priest said that having studied Hindu scriptures, he had concluded, "Marriage is a union of spirits. And the spirit is not male or female."

As Amara Dasa, founder of Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association, noted in Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex, several Gaudiya Vaishnava authorities emphasize that since everyone passes through various forms, genders and species in a series of lives, people should not judge each other by the material body but should view everyone equally on a spiritual plane and be compassionate, as God is.

Resource from LGBT Hindus: The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Intellectuals defend homosexuality

Rakesh Mohan Chaturvedi
[ Saturday, January 14, 2006 02:17:29 amTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

LUCKNOW: The society has always looked at lesbianism and homosexuality with a jaundiced eye. But now those with such leanings have decided that they are not going to take things lying down.

They have taken their battle to the streets. Literally. And they have found active support among the intellectuals and the learned in this city of nawabs.

Ruth Vanita and Salim Kidwai, who co-authored the book 'Same Sex marriages in India', make plain their anger with the attitude of the police.

Recently the Lucknow police had arrested four men under Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, allegedly for indulging in unnatural sex. Vanita blames the society's attitude towards homosexuals and lesbians for the suicides committed by them.

Citing instances of these atrocities, Vanita informs,"in 1980, a joint suicide was committed by two women in Kerala. In 1987, two policewomen who married each other were suspended."

She argues that it is wrong to say that this is a Western concept. In fact, there have been cases where the families of the same sex couples have given their consent. "Like in 2001, two nurses in Bihar got married with the permission of the family," she adds.

It is the legal-religious aspect that rattles these intellectuals the most. Kidwai argues that Section 377 of IPC is a colonial legacy which should be shed. "These laws do not reflect Indian views or traditions.

Such laws are rightly being questioned," he says. He further adds, "the way the police implements Section 377 is problematic.

This is a weak case, as found by our fact-finding team, and will be overthrown. It only harasses the victims."

Vanita points out that she had talked to a lot of priests about these issues. "The priests who had conducted these marriages said these were allowed in Indian tradition," she informed.
She stated that Gandharva vivah, which was portrayed in the movie Parineeta recently, is mentioned in ancient texts, including Kamasutra. Here no priest is required and a mere exchange of garlands is enough.

Many NGOs have also voiced their concern on the issue. Says Tulika Srivastava of Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives (AALI),"Our agenda is to fight the moralistic and unconstitutional attitude of the police."

When TOI pointed out that Section 377 was a part of IPC and hence legal, Srivastava argued, "IPC does not represent the constitution.

Section 377 infringes on our Fundamental Rights." Jashodhara Dasgupta of Sahayog, said, "Britishers have themselves repealed such laws and allowed gay marriages like in the recent case of Elton John."

When contacted, SSP Lucknow, Ashutosh Pandey, defended the stand taken by the police. He said the police was only implementing the law of the land. "In India, gays are not respectable.

Under Section 377 a person can be given imprisonment upto 10 years, even if the act was committed with consent," he said.

He argued that in the US these acts are permissible and the NGOs and others were supporting gays because they get funding from foreign shores Blogs I read

Nitin Karani

Friday, January 13, 2006

From: [LGBTNepal] why hard To trust own brother

you know two things we have one we have mind, brain work logically, we have heart soul it work sensatively. u can talk by mind or u can talk by soul depend upon you. I am one down of earth person. In my life so many desister happen. but i still keeping faith faith faith to lord. God say I have plan for prosperity not desister. dear so many fish in ocean u will hard to cach real dolfin...... city being so poluted. fresh n real friends hard to find... bellions of people. dear one day we all die. people shy and scred to be gay.. they just choose beautiful guy handsome guy. who drive car they need preaty bodey bulder. rich people say i am this n that in talk. but reality diffreant. if all gay doing like it. if most of guy doing like when we will get right??????? internet is vertual world. not use it for misused for gay homo, lesbian, streat, queer, what ever you preasnt either you are top, either you are master, either you are slave, either you are bottom either you are versitile, either you night qween, what ever. we are in asia. we know we have so many organization, we have so many help line, who is there they will try but job only 30 to 40 % every bodey need sucess, every bodey need fun every bodey need satisfication, who need fredom???????????? who need sare of their sorrow??????????? who need healp????????????? there is interwivew from human right, unisco,undp, so n so... there is so many seminar, there is so many table talk??????? there is so many meeting why not able to accept all idea?????? who able to invite you????????? who able to listen your voice.... either you are poor , either you are rich, we are all brother we are all sister we are all friends why looking face .... why hard to look heart?????? why cheating each other, why shy and hegiatate to tell fact n reality. yes we have presser of society, we have presser of culture, we have own family, job economic presser. if we dominate eachother. who listen our voice????????? so many book in market??????? who read it???????? so many web site?????? why we are not able to show posative for society???? why people missused gay website. why people think only sex game??????? why people think sex is trade?????? why forget love why forget love, why misunderstand, where is humanities,where is faith and support, where is courage??????

I say franctly here is very hard to trust one brother one friend to other friend. here is no humanities. either goverment falt or our falt. some time matti ariested, some time mattie hit the police. some time event in Nepal, some time voilance in lakhanow. May be soon some where ?????? why it happen why it happen????? why comersilize for our sexuality......???? why polish harashment always whose falt????????? we have no knowledge. or we are not get proper counsuling. or we just die for sex sex sex???????? what is reson behand???????

who ever you are Big posation or small posation?? either you are director of trust or organization please try to show real brother relation real humanities. please don't try to name and fame. every one start to take responsibility. what can i do from my side????????? any one will able to listen My voice?????? voice may be small but it sake the world. simple exeample of ant and elephant. one small ant able to kill the elephant.