“God made all men equal”. This is what we have been told by our ‘wise’ elders since childhood. Even the holy scriptures belonging to various religions teach the same. But history is a witness to every act and deed which contradicted this virtue, where the majority of a kind cornered the minorities and exploited them; first on the basis of gender, then color, followed by religion and then by nationality and language and so forth. But this does not end here. Individuals have been oppressed even on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, not just in the recent times but far too longer than we can guess.
LGBT, its expansion being Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender or the rainbow clad is a community of people with different sexual orientations and gender expressions. This collective identity is outside the heteronormative hegemony, where a man MUST like a woman and vice versa, and a man is supposed to carry himself like a man and a woman like a woman. But anything alien or different from the usual is considered despicable in the society. Hate arises due to lack of imagination.
This community as such did not exist by the name, as we know today, till late 1960s. A human rights movement took place in the US to protect this minority community from being oppressed. This had a widespread effect all over the world including India. Since then, numerous LGBT Pride parades have been organized all over the world, which led to successful acceptance, legalization and protection of this community in many countries like South Africa, Argentina, Sweden, etc. But the question in India still prevails, whether or not to give these people equal rights and protection.
If we ask someone to write down their opinion about the Indian society in just singular words and not whole sentences, we will surely find words like Orthodox, Conservative, Narrow Minded, Non-Accommodating and so on; way too harsh but perhaps true. On being asked upon homosexuality, ‘this is a disease’ some say. Some say that this disease can be ‘cured’ by ‘yoga’. Some say that it is the ‘dirt’ accumulating in the society due to western influence and some prefer to not say anything. The facts say that a person’s gender identity and orientation are not acquired traits. People are born with it.
People make decisions based on what they know. You can have everyone in the country vote freely and in a democratic manner and still come up with the wrong answer – if they base that decision on incorrect information.
People don’t want to know the truth when it is complicated. They don’t want to spend years debating an issue. They want it homogenized, sanitized, and above all, simplified into terms they can understand…Governments are often criticized for moving slowly, but that deliberateness, it turns out, is their strength. They take time to think through complex problems before they act. People, however, are different. People first react and then think, if at all. And when such people are in power, policy becomes an instinct rather than a thought.
During the British Raj of the 1860s, the colonizers introduced a law, now popularly known as IPC section 377. This criminalized every sensual activity that was against the ‘order of nature’ or in simple words, did not lead to reproduction. This same law still prevails in the constitution, making the lives of the rainbow people miserable, making them vulnerable to threats, hate crimes, physical abuse, extortion and a lot more. The transgender community or the ‘hijras’ are the people who are affected by this the most. Where many customs demand blessings of the third gender, many people grunt when a transgender crosses their way. This marginalized and economically backward section has faced untold tortures. Due to unemployment, many of them sell themselves to earn their bread, and the rest beg on the streets.
In 2009, the Delhi high court decided to decriminalize consensual activities between two individuals irrespective of their genders, bringing a ray of hope into the lives of the homosexual, bisexuals and transgender people. But the story wasn’t that happy. In December 2013, the Supreme Court set aside the judgement of the Delhi high court, again hanging a sword over the heads of LGBT. This is a breach to the right to privacy, right to life, right against exploitation and non-discrimination – the fundamental rights of an Indian citizen.
Circumstances are changing, and people are gathering up courage to raise their daughters like their sons. I say the society will truly start changing when people will be courageous enough to raise even their sons like their daughters and a person will be looked upon by his contribution to the global development and not by his choice of partner. We cannot succeed even if a few of us are held back. It seems to me that the greatest triumph of any human rights movement, be it fighting for racial, religious, sexual or gender equality – is to achieve that moment where the eyes are opened so wide that a sort of blindness sets in. Each of us has a short ride on this earth and as long as someone stays in his lane, and doesn’t affect the other’s ride, they should be allowed to drive as he sees fit.
Man or woman or someone else, it doesn’t matter. It does not matter if someone is black, white, gay or straight. I just want to know who they are. At the end of the day, gender differences seem to me to be just a tiny, tiny drop in the great expanse of things that make people unique. Unique, not ‘different’, not ‘other’ merely another piece of that great teaming mass that makes up the wonderfully rich, thrillingly varied definition of Humanity.