India looks well-poised to exit the infamous group of 72 countries in the world that still criminalises homosexuality.
There may be various reasons for life but that one, overpowering, omnipresent reason that supersedes all other reasons to live is love. I am not being philosophical but just think about it: all of our most meaningful acts stem from a kind of love. Love for parents, siblings, children, pets, environment, country…there are indeed so many delightful variations of this one emotion. The most exciting, uplifting, liberating, and passionate of these loves is romantic love. Literature, paintings, sculpture, cinema, and music have, for ages, been hinged on the idea of love. Artists have exhausted their efforts to properly represent the emotion through their work; researchers and scientists have laboured to scientifically understand this feeling; and, the common man has many times been left confused by its overbearing influence. All through this, the universality of this one emotion has held true in the saying that 'Love makes the world go round'. Love spans across age, races, nationalities, creeds and gender. Yes, gender too. Not in India though where archaic laws such as Section 377 exercise control over the hearts of individuals.
The upcoming week is an important one for all those who have dared to love differently in India. Who have, due to natural compulsions, chosen to love someone of their own gender. What may be labelled as "unnatural sex", as per the law, is the most natural expression of love for them. The Indian apex court will finally pass its verdict next week to decriminalise homosexuality. While countries such as the US, Canada, England, and even our neighbouring nation Nepal, have shown greater acceptance towards same-sex relationships and scrapped this draconian law, India still upholds the law that was introduced by the British in India in 1861. India is among 72 countries in the world that currently punish homosexuals. The Supreme Court had, in fact, overturned the much-anticipated favourable judgment passed by the Delhi High Court in 2009. Now, however, it stands to make history, a bit late compared to the other more accepting and progressive nations – but better late than never.
The government has maintained neutral ground by leaving the decision to decriminalise same-sex relationships to the wisdom of the Supreme Court. But, by emphasising that the matter up for contention is only Section 377, the government has also shown its future opposition to the issue of same-sex marriages and child adoption by gay couples. In doing so, the Narendra Modi government has lost a golden opportunity to show its progressive stance of keeping up with the changing customs of society. For now, though, the LGBTQ community is relieved and grateful that the government has at least not opposed the decision and seems willing to shed its tag of being a police state.
There are many things in this world that all of us do not fully comprehend. Who we love and how we choose to do it are some of them that remain inscrutable. But, having said that, we have no right to impinge on the rights of people who choose to love someone from their own gender. Love traverses gender and it is about time that it crosses over the unnecessary obstacles of moral policing, hypocrisy, pettiness, and most importantly, persecution. Live and let love.
(The writer is a journalist and media entrepreneur. The views expressed are strictly personal)