Thursday, 12 December 2013

Homosexuality: Tabooed in India

‘Public discussion of homosexuality in India has been inhibited by the fact that sexuality in any form is rarely discussed openly.’

I read this line on Wikipedia when I googled ‘Homosexuality in India’. (We really have a Wikipedia page for everything today, don’t we?) The reason behind me, googling this is the fact that it just isn't talked about in this country.

Recently, I saw this interview of Saif Ali Khan on The Front Row. And it jogged my thought process switching it onto a completely different lane. He talked in the interview, about how we Indians aren’t honest. That we portray this image of our country  being progressive because the people are now more open about affection, love and sex, all of which are inter-related and that we are a power house because of our technology and our dwindling economy. This image is an illusion. We aren’t allowed to talk about sex in public and are definitely not allowed to make public our affection for one another, what with all the cops tapping on our car windows. He talked about how our cinema isn’t honest about what love and compassion are about. We live in a society which doesn't accept people for who they are.

In such a society, is it really a surprise that there’s a law which makes homosexuality illegal? When the straight ones aren't given the right to hold hands in public peacefully, the sexuality that is apparently ‘correct’ and ‘natural’ (according to the cuckoos), how can we expect this to be ‘tolerated’?  Love, sex and freedom, is tabooed in our country.

I was part of this ridiculous incident once, something which hasn’t really been talked about or thought about in the way I have recently. My friends and I were one afternoon sitting in a coffee shop in Pune. We had newspapers on the table and had just looked through an article about an adult star being part of a new film. This led to a discussion about her involvement and whether this was something the public wanted to watch. Now my friends, including me, have a tendency to get a little passionate in the midst of a discussion and as a result, our voices were a little louder than they should have been. As a result, the table behind us, with three people, overheard us. One man on the table started to talk very loudly, so as to make a point, about adult starts and making comments that linked them to my friends and me. There were specific comments that were made, intentionally directed at us. Our male counterparts on the table, protective as they are, realized this and turned around to address them. This led to a completely unnecessary and heated argument which comprised of the man telling my friend that she looked like a bedbug and her parents would be ashamed of her if they knew she was part of a discussion such as this. There were threats made to us that they knew Sharad Powar and we were asked where we lived and so on and so forth. This ended with us all being told to leave the shop.    

In such a situation, where our freedom of speech is being taken away by our own people because the subject at hand is not deemed ‘decent’, what is one to do? The problem lies within us, within our society. Our concept of love, passion and what it entails is flawed. And this avoidance has led to ignorance. People are misinformed and misguided. We grow up believing that everyone is not equal. We find reasons to discriminate. If we, the people of India, cannot find our humanity and gain perspective, what is the government going to do? If the way of thought isn’t changing, how will the law?

Did you know that our most beloved and cherished historical texts support homosexuality?  Hinduism has taken various positions, ranging from positive to neutral or antagonistic. Rigveda, one of the four canonical sacred texts of Hinduism says ‘Vikriti Evam Prakriti’, which means ‘what seems un-natural is also natural’ which some scholars believe recognizes the cyclical constancy of homosexual/transsexual dimensions of human life, like all forms of universal diversities. The classic Indian text Kama Sutra deals without ambiguity or hypocrisy with all aspects of sexual life—including marriage, adultery, prostitution, group sex, sadomasochism, male and female homosexuality, and transvestism.

There is a basic rule book, which everyone is supposed to follow. A rule book written by all the wrong sorts of people. This rule book is not dictated by our government, it’s dictated by society, by us. We make the government. We are the government. So what are we doing? We need to sit down and question our humanity and our principles. Question your parents and your grand-parents; let us figure out the problem here. Figure out why this is happening to our country and to our people. Didn’t God make all humans to be equal and have equal rights? Aren't we all his children? They are not mistakes! And if they are, then we all are. 

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