Three-Seven-Seven

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For a country that engages in phallus worship day in and day out, India has been strangely homophobic over the years. The country’s approach to the LGBT community has been shocking, disappointing and at times just plain amusing. We’ve known that homosexuals have always existed in our ‘culture’, we have rock solid evidence (literally) for the fact that homosexuality was not just existent, but pretty damn common at that. Add to that, the fact that the government ever since it attained independence, has been trying to divorce itself from every trace of its colonial past, (to the point where the names of an airport, a major railway station and a museum and not to mention the very name of the city were changed in Bombay itself)  and it becomes rather inexplicable how the powers that be ignored all voices of reason to uphold an archaic Victorian law that equated consensual non-peno-vaginal intercourse between two consenting adults (same sex or not). It was almost as if they thought by simply ignoring the issue altogether as if it were a hungry dog begging for a scrap of food, they could make it go away.

Today however, the government finds itself in a precarious position. With the homosexual community in India (which if rumors are to be believed includes several high-rolling socialites, actors, directors, designers and the likes) being as big as India’s largest minority (in a conservative estimate, mind you!), there was simply no ignoring them anymore. On the other hand though, we have a section of the political scene (and a large one at that) that believes that pub-going straight women are dirty as sin. Decriminalizing homosexuality for them, is not just unacceptable, its positively insane. With such cards dealt to them, its unsurprising that the UPA government has taken a non-committal stance on the decriminalization of homosexuality and has instead let the judiciary go ahead and do the ‘dirty work’ so to say for them. Whether or not the government accepts the High Court verdict at this point of time is irrelevant. The question to be asked is, ‘Are the people going to finally stop looking at the LGBT community as  freaks and caricatures?’

Not any time soon if you ask Baba Ramdev, a man who with his Patanjali Yoga revolution over the last decade, has many- a-time prompted men of science to rethink whether or not certain maladies can be tagged ‘uncurable’. “They are sick and should be sent to hospitals. Or they could marry…or remain bachelors like me” he proudly pontificated through the ToI today.

The big fish of Catholic and Christian community in India, (a group which by even the most wishful estimate are smaller in size than the homosexual community in India), chose their words with a bit more caution saying that though it was important to respect homosexuals as persons, it was perfectly fine in saying that what they were doing was sinful, unethical and absolutely against the way God intended humans to live and multiply.

That apart, it is not uncommon in Islamic nations that homosexuals are punished with the death penalty itself! I do not know about the stance of the other major world religions when it comes to homosexuality, but I think I can safely deduce that none of them would be too enthusiastic about them.

And it is THIS aspect of religion exactly that perplexes me. I won’t go as far as saying that I’m an atheist, but I will certainly say that the ‘God is all forgiving, all kind and all loving*….Conditions Applied’ approach that every religion adopts does not convince me one bit. But let’s keep my views on religion aside for the moment and come back to my opinion on homosexuality. As far as I am concerned, as a student of Psychology and someone who aspires to be a Counsellor, I can say with complete certainty that the aforementioned subject that I hold dear, is responsible for the worst damage done to the cause of the homosexual community. Up until 1973, the holy book of Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists all over the world, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, (DSM), classified homosexuality as a disorder. Though over the years, proponents from the field as well as social workers have shouted their throats hoarse saying that they were mistaken earlier, the wounds have somehow not yet healed. Counsellors too, even today hold biases…some against homosexuals, and some like me, against those who are against homosexuals.

What can be learned from the above example however is that merely repealing or reinterpreting a section in a book does not change the perceptions of the masses overnight, it takes years of sustained effort and above all a willingness to accept those who are unlike us. It’s humanly impossible to never hold biases, but it is certainly possible to acknowledge that we hold them and that our biases can colour our judgments in no small way. Once that is done, it would be diffucult not to be able to accept each other. And that I dare each of you to do!

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13 thoughts on “Three-Seven-Seven

  1. burpingbutterfly

    “It’s humanly impossible to never hold biases, but it is certainly possible to acknowledge that we hold them and that our biases can colour our judgments in no small way”.

    Well said Pazzy!

  2. “And it is THIS aspect of religion exactly that perplexes me. I won’t go as far as saying that I’m an atheist, but I will certainly say that the ‘God is all forgiving, all kind and all loving*….Conditions Applied’ approach that every religion adopts does not convince me one bit.”

    Just because God loves everyone and can forgive anything, it does not mean that it is ok to do anything.
    God can forgive lies, does that mean I should lie? God can forgive gossip, does that mean I should gossip? God can even forgive things like rape and murder, but equally I should not do those either.

    The fact that it is a thing to be forgiven in itself shows it’s undesirableness.

  3. Pazz

    Lying, stealing, cheating and the likes are a different thing. If you paint homosexuality with the same brush, I believe you cannot be reasoned with. I did not say that it was OKAY to lie or steal because God is supposed to be all forgiving, my argument is that homosexuality or bisexuality or whatever one’s sexual orientation is, ISN”T something to be apologetic about.
    As far as ‘undesirableness’ goes, to each his own. I consider those who tag homosexuals as ‘sinners’ or ‘mentally ill’ or ‘wrong doers’ as undesirable for that matter.

    • Well see here is the thing. Your morality says “men having sex with men is not immoral” another persons morality says it is immoral. This is not about God being forgiving so people should not discourage immorality. This is about a disagreement as to what constitutes moral behavior.

      So frame it in terms of the actual disagreement.

  4. Pazz

    My point is that those who claim to be ‘religious’ on one hand say that God is all about acceptance and non judgment. While on the other hand they discriminate against homosexuals saying that they are against God’s will.
    My argument is that if there is a God that is all loving and all accepting, he would see past your sexual preferences or what faith you belong to. If a majority of the people practicing religion disagree with this on account of this being against what they call ‘moral behaviour’ then it isn’t a religion I wish to be a part of.
    Hope this makes it clear

    • Who said God is all about “acceptance and non-Judgement”?

      God is about love. Sometimes if you love someone you must guide them away from the wrong path.

      Obviously if having sex with people of the same gender is wrong, then there is a reason it’s wrong. It’s not just some arbitrary rule.

      And if you don’t wish to be a part of a religion don’t be, but at least have the courtesy to understand why people think the way they do instead of assuming it must just be that their are bigots.

  5. Pazz

    I never indulged in any name calling. What you have commented on is a personal opinion so you definitely cannot expect it to be in line with your beliefs. Read it with a fistful of salt if you still wish to.
    My problem isn’t with the fact that you believe in God or religion, my problem is that you tag homosexuality as being wrong without a valid reason but for your religious beliefs.
    Whoever said homosexuality was ‘obviously’ wrong? A homosexual does not harm himself/herself or anyone else in any way by living the life that he/she does. The discomfort that is caused to you by them is a result of them not conforming to your image of a ‘normal’ human being.
    From a psychological point of view as I mentioned earlier, there is nothing ‘wrong’ about them. And there isn’t valid proof of the fact that legalizing homosexual sex having an impact on rates of HIV and STD contractions. If you consider homosexuality as being ‘wrong’ feel free to elaborate as to why you feel so with valid evidence for the same.
    Saying that it is ‘wrong’ without having reasonable evidence for the same only proves that your argument is based on subjective morality.
    And for the last time, I would appreciate it if you stopped assuming that ‘homosexuality is wrong’ as a given condition. Even in the court of law, one is innocent until proven guilty. Right now, there isn’t any evidence of ‘wrong-doing’ here so I definitely see no other grounds for your resistance but for an unwillingness to accept them as who they are.
    And as far as courtesy goes, I have not used any offensive terms for religious individuals, it is you who has equated homosexuality with rape and murder. I suggest you try and walk a few steps in the shoes of a homosexual who is constantly judged by millions like yourself merely for being who they are. Better still, walk a few miles!

  6. Homosexual acts are wrong because the human person is not only an individual but also a symbol of spiritual realities, male and female represent particular aspects of spiritual truth and their coming together is an image of the union between man and God.

    Homosexual sex fails to adequately represent this image and so is a distortion of the spiritual reality. In that sense it is both spiritually harmful and displeasing to God.

  7. Pazz

    Just as I suspected, your argument is nothing but another repetition of certain seemingly infallible truths. Your opinion doesn’t anger me however. Your argument reflects the feelings of a large chunk of society that still misunderstands the homosexual community.
    Let me turn around and ask you, wouldn’t it be displeasing to God to see the people discriminating against each other in his name?
    At a time when sufficient knowledge was unavailable the Church tagged a man who claimed that the Earth revolved around the sun was a heretic, didn’t it?
    If you are a homosexual, I am surprised you aren’t more empathetic towards the challenges your own kind face. If I, being heterosexual myself, can so ardently advocate their cause, it definitely seems amiss that someone who is homosexual herself equates them with rapists, (which I am not surprised you conveniently chose not to mention in your last reply).
    Before you lose sight of the topic once again however, let me remind you, that this blog post was in relation to an amendment in the Indian Penal Code whereby Section 377 ruled that ‘any form of sexual activity that went against the order of nature was a criminal offence.’
    This basically meant that not just all homosexual sex but anal or oral sex between two consenting heterosexual adults was against the law.
    Regardless of one’s moral or religious views, it is evident that tagging homosexuals as criminals and throwing them into jail is definitely NOT the answer.
    At this point, I would also like to ask you what you would consider as a ‘solution’ to homosexuality if preaching the Gospel or any other holy text failed?

    • “wouldn’t it be displeasing to God to see the people discriminating against each other in his name?”

      “Discrimination” covers broad ground. I do not believe a law against homosexual actitvity is inherently displeasing to God (I also don’t think a lack of such a law would be – I think at the level of legislation, God has delegated to the temporal rulers.)

      “If you are a homosexual, I am surprised you aren’t more empathetic towards the challenges your own kind face.”

      It is because I do not regard sex as a need or an entitlement. It is perfectly possible to go without sex and go unharmed. I am deeply concerned by the growing sense of entitlement to sex people seem to feel.
      I never equated homosexual sex with rape. I used both as examples of transgression of morality.

      I do not believe it is up to me to provide a solution to homosexuality, I supposed I can contribute by praying for homosexuals to be given strength in their struggle, but in the end it is up to them and to God to provide them with the grace to resist their urges.

  8. Pazz

    Sophia, I understand your resistance towards the decriminalization of a anti-homosexuality law. I know that when it comes to most religions, there is a dichotomous approach to what is moral and what is immoral. There isn’t a grey area per se. A sinner would be considered a sinner and would fall short of heaven or nirvana or jannat, whether he commits 1 sin or a 1000 sins. I am not saying that you have said that ‘Homosexuality = Rape’. There are no two ways about rape or murder or stealing or adultery. But if one were to place homosexuality and the aforementioned along a continuum of how unanimously they are considered as ‘wrong’ the former would be farther from the far right extreme than the latter. I understand, however, that for you, there isn’t a continuum, but a dividing line. But the law, especially in a diverse democracy like India, ought to be devoid of all religious influences.

    A homosexual may not engage in non consensual sex, but in the presence of a law that punishes homosexuality, he goes to the SAME jail as a rapist and a molester. Regardless of the duration of the sentence, both are considered ex-cons when they are eventually freed from prison. And that as you know is as broad a brush as you can find.

    My argument therefore boils down to this simple question: “Do you think that homosexuality needs to be punished with a CRIMINAL SENTENCE?”

    I respect whatever your opinion may be, and rest my case.

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