Shit you should care about… India’s iconic ruling on gay rights
In case you weren’t aware: it’s 2018, people. And not only is it 2018, but it’s also about damn time we start accepting people for who they are. Thankfully for us, the world’s second largest population, and largest democracy has started to realise this – and not a moment too soon (about 150 years too late, actually.)
Earlier this month India both corrected and created history by outlawing archaic Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. And this is important – so stick with me here dudes, I’m about to break it down.
WTF is Section 377?
It’s titled “Unnatural Offences”
It was established in 1861 so it’s almost 160 years old
It criminalises sexual activities “against the order of nature,” which equates bestiality, sex with minors and non-consensual sexual acts with homosexuality
It says that whoever voluntarily commits these acts will be sentenced to imprisonment for life (or a sentence upwards of 10 years)
It’s all a bit fucked really
So what’s changed?
The September 6th ruling may have seen a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court to decriminalise gay sex, but it did so much more than just that. The ruling not only stated that consensual gay relations is not a crime, but that sexual orientation is natural, and people should not be criminalised over something they have no control over. Decriminalising gay sex also ensures that gay citizens are protected under the constitution, and so they should be.
When making their decision, the five-judge bench took into account estimates that 8% of India’s population – that’s around 104 million people – might be part of the LGBTQ community. Now, that’s a LOT of people to be ‘committing a crime’ every time they have sex. As well as amending the law, the judges also took the time to apologise on behalf of history, for how long it took for a change to be made:
“History owes an apology to these people and their families. Homosexuality is part of human sexuality. They have the right to dignity and be free of discrimination. Consensual sexual acts of adults are allowed for LGBT community” – Judge Indu Malhotra.
Got it. So, what does this mean now?
It means that there is hope.
Hope that a new age “domino effect” has been instituted by India. As the world’s biggest democracy and second biggest population, India’s influence in an increasingly globalised world is relatively unmatched. No single country’s actions exist in a vacuum these days, so India’s decision, while primarily political, could spread a wave of hope for social justice and create unparalleled visibility for LGBTQ rights across the globe. As for India as a nation, this could lead to legislative reforms for members of the LGBTQ community to enjoy other rights, like marrying a person of their choice, or adopting children.
Here’s hoping that one of the other 72 countries that still have laws in place criminalising homosexuality decide to take a leaf out of India’s book too, but I’ll save that rant for another day.
Banner Image from the Time of India