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


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