In 2009, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) – the provision criminalizing sexual intercourse that is “against the law of nature” – was scrapped as it violated the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian constitution. Four years later, the LGBTQ community collectively mourned the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the provision once again.
Almost a decade since this fight for equality first found its space in mainstream media, the LGBTQs of the country have been striving to create an inclusive environment for themselves. And they are now a step closer to this reality. The Indian Psychiatric Society released a statement clearly stating that it recognises “same-sex sexuality as a normal variant of human sexuality much like heterosexuality and bisexuality.”
Released on July 7, 2018, this statement comes in as a ray of hope as the Constitution Bench will begin hearing petitions challenging the criminalisation of homosexuality today. This statement may prove crucial in overturning Sec 377 – which has long plagued our constitution and our country alike. Taking a clear stand, the statement said, “There is no scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be altered by any treatment and that any such attempts may, in fact, lead to low self-esteem and stigmatisation of the person.”
It further specified that ‘homosexuality is not a psychiatric disorder’ and that their stance is “in line with the position of American Psychiatric Association and The International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organisation.”
According to a Times Of India report, “The IPS had, in 2017, constituted a task force on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. The task force, now partially re-constituted, continues its work to endorse the stance that homosexuality should not be considered a mental illness, less a crime.”
The LGBTQ+ community in India is growing with every passing minute and it is indeed a force to reckon with. However, the battle is a long one and we’re nowhere close to the end. Even if Section 377 was to be scrapped overnight, there is very little chance of waking up to a utopian world where no one would discriminate against their queer counterparts. The need of the hour is to tackle not just the policies and the legalities, but also break the social and cultural shackles of the society.
Feature Image Courtesy: Pravritti
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