After menstrual health and sex, the third most taboo topic in India is the existence of the LGBTQ community. In a country that has had various cultures and rulers from around the world, it took the longest to accept this community. India also came together with the entire world in Celebrating Pride this June. With the decriminalization of Section 377 in 2018, India is managing to cope up with accepting this community.
India still has to go a long way with fighting the caste system and the male chauvinism. It is safe to say that it is a lot better than what it was before. Women are stepping out to work a lot more than before. Men are assuming responsibilities at home while the former go out to work. There is still a taboo regarding gender reversal. On the other hand, there is a larger topic of accepting new genders in the community here.
The LGBTQ Community In India
From ancient times itself, Indian customs and traditions have been very neutral or haven’t taken homosexuality as a punishable offense. It was mostly written off as madness or was given a very low fine like a bath in the holy water. The ancient text of Rigveda defines that something that seems unnatural is also naturally occurring and hence has to be accepted.
Over the course of time, when the Mughals ruled India, they were not very harsh with the gay community. It was not openly accepted too, the rulers themselves were many a time attracted to the same sex.
It was during the British Rule in India that homosexuality was criminalized in India. The then rulers believed that it was against nature to indulge in such activities and criminalized it. Until the late ’90s, it was still criminally offensive.
Social media is one of the most open spaces where people actually talk about this issue. A lot of people from the LGBTQ community use this as one of the powerful mediums to put out there points about their community.
The First Pride Parade In India
Since Independence in 1947, nobody had bought up the topic of homosexuality or the LGBTQ community in the open. The first attempt was done by a group in Kolkata in the year 1999. It was the first Pride Parade India had ever seen. Known as the Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk, it just saw about twelve to fifteen people participating. And if you guessed it right, kudos! They were all men and no women at all who joined the parade.
Kolkata as we all know is the art and human rights hub in India. Indian Cinema was born there. A lot of social activists who fight for various issues in society from child rights, women’s rights, and Dalit rights.
From this day, it has been twenty-one years now, and finally, India is a free country for the LGBTQ community too. All this happened in the year 2018. Let’s look at a brief about what went around that time.
The Decriminalization Of Section 377
For many years, Section 377 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) was used as a tool against the acts of homosexuality and the LGBTQ+ community. In 2009, a sensational judgment by the Delhi Court and the support for the same from the Prime Minister then.
The Supreme Court reinstated this Section in the year 2013, which challenged the sentiments of the community again. This followed participation for the first time in the states of the seven sisters, in Guwahati in 2014, when they observed the Global Day of Rage.
After this, a lot of people started raising their voices against the discrimination of the LGBTQ+ community. Some societies have not accepted them yet. Some are still understanding the scientific reason behind it and the freedom of choice to be whatever anyone wanted.
With a lot of commotion regarding this topic, and a lot of activists and celebrities bringing these issues to light, finally, the Supreme Court decriminalized Section 377 through a unanimous decision.
After Decriminalization Of Section 377
It has taken a long time for people to accept the community and respect them as any other individual. India has still not completely accepted the homosexual and queer community due to the predominant beliefs and customs. People still judge others for taking up decisions to dress transgender or to be in a relationship with someone of the same gender. It looks like we have a long way to go in this battle of acceptance and freedom.
But there is surely progress in the way this beautiful community’s treatment has changed. There are popular gay weddings that have happened in the past two years in India. Parents have started to understand their children and their needs. There is a lot of acceptance in the community since the law has changed.