Tuesday, July 7, 2009

This Queer Little Planet: India

I originally planned this segment as a weekly feature, but since change happens according to its own schedule, I'll play it by ear and post stories of interest as they arise.

Last week the Indian government repealed it's anti-sodomy laws. But due to long held beliefs about homosexuality, Indian society will take some time to catch up.

In a post at today's Forbes.com, Roy Sinai writes about this landmark move and how it effects day-to-day life for India's LGBT community:
"Over the 149 years of its existence, the infamous (if rarely enforced) Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code has remained a psychological threat to India's sexual minorities. It has resulted in countless instances of misery and harassment, and spawned a thriving blackmail industry.

The psychology of fear that the law begat, by its mere existence, has been lifted with the court's ruling that it is unconstitutional. In that alone, a great wrong has been righted. For the millions of gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities in India--and with the country's population of 1.3 billion, we are talking many, many millions--to be able to hold their head high and be who they are, equal before the law, is both a huge psychological boost and an affirmation of their human dignity.

For urban, middle-class homosexuals, being gay in India is akin to being gay in the U.S. in the 1950s. The condition of homosexuals in small towns and rural India is far worse. Most gays in India remain in the closet for cultural and social reasons, irrespective of the law; many still feel that the Delhi court's ruling will not really impact their day-to-day lives as long as social stigmas remain."

Read the full article here.

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