Opinion | India’s Battle for Same-Sex Love

There are six petitions arguing in opposition to Section 377 earlier than the court docket. They are from activists, college students and alumni of elite engineering institutes, and a celeb chef, a dancer and hoteliers. India has come a good distance from 2001 when the petition in opposition to the legislation needed to be filed by an AIDS advocacy organization as a result of no queer particular person was prepared to face up in court docket and say, “I am gay and this law affects me.”

India’s Supreme Court is taking part in catch-up in a society that appears to have largely moved on. Though most politicians don’t need to contact Section 377, it’s considered by many throughout the ideological spectrum as a blot on India’s thought of itself as a liberal democracy. I haven’t learn a single newspaper editorial supporting the archaic legislation. If as soon as activists checked out Lawrence v. Texas within the United States Supreme Court for hope, now they really feel the world is India, hoping that the court docket will do the appropriate factor. If Section 377 falls, there will likely be celebrations not simply in India but in addition in San Francisco, Toronto and London.

But even when the court docket repeals the legislation, Indian society nonetheless has to deal with the deep and insidious stigma of being queer. Arif Jafar, an activist, wrote about being hauled to a police station, crushed up and thrown right into a cell, the place he misplaced most of his enamel. His request for bail was turned down as a result of the police noticed him as a “curse to society.”

In June, two girls, both married to men, flung themselves off a bridge within the western state of Gujarat. They left behind a word that learn, “We are leaving the world which will never allow us to be one.” These girls didn’t come to L.G.B.T. events in luxurious inns. They discovered no help teams by way of smartphone apps. Repealing the legislation criminalizing gay intercourse won’t save younger women and men like them in a single day. But it’s a first and essential step.

Gay life is cussed. No matter how a lot a legislation or a society tries to stamp it out or pave over it, it retains rising stubbornly like weeds within the cracks. My good friend Siddharth was all the time arguing in opposition to all odds that change was doable. In the primary residents’ report on homosexuality in 1991, which he co-wrote, he demanded the appropriate to same-sex marriage, which appeared then like asking for the moon.

But if Section 377 falls, even that horizon feels inside attain. Siddharth won’t be there to see it. He died a lot too younger, felled by Hodgkin’s illness. I can nonetheless see him sitting there close to the taking part in fields of our youth, his shirt sleeves rolled up, his glasses glinting within the moonlight, telling me: “Stay in America for your education and your career if you need to. You don’t have to stay away because you are gay. Things will change here. Believe me.”

I didn’t fairly consider him then. I actually didn’t dare to assume that in the future the Supreme Court of India is likely to be poised to ship that reassurance not simply for homosexual millionaires who can get together in Delhi and marry in Paris but in addition for younger women and men in small-town India.

Sandip Roy is the creator of the novel “Don’t Let Him Know.”

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