Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What is our response to gay movement?

by KParthasarathi Tuesday, May 20, 2008
There was the upsetting news item of two married women who were lesbians committing suicide as they were not allowed to be together. Whether we like t or not the prevalence of gays/lesbians is wide spread. In fact two states in US have legitimized it amidst strong opposition to it. In our country too leading and famous Indian writers, artists, lawyers and academics are lending support to the cause of gays. It appears they are urging the Indian government to change the existing law that criminalizes homosexuality by scrapping Section 377 of Indian Penal code that can put the gays in prison up to 10 years. They have deplored this section “as an attack on human rights and fundamental freedoms” calling it as a relic of the past colonial era and demanded it to be struck down. They have perhaps drawn inspiration from what is happening in developed countries, particularly US. There is a substantial percentage of people who would like to move along with the fast spreading social changes and do away with the vestiges of the past legal and social discrimination.
Although the practice of same sex relationship is widespread, it is generally never open and has not gained universal acceptance. Except for younger generation, the conservatives among the people who form a sizable number generally talked of such associations in hushed tones as perverse and socially unacceptable. There is even a sense of abhorrence in what is perceived as against traditional values and social mores.
But the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, in its landmark judgment went to the extent of permitting gays to marry legally. The court struck down as “unconstitutional" the existing ban on same-sex marriages as limiting of marriages to opposite couples is restrictive of the freedom and equality protected by the constitution. The court held that “barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex” is violative of the Constitution. Showing the way the wind is blowing.
However people are vastly divided on this issue with about two thirds of the population considering this relationship as unnatural and undeserving of equal treatment to straight relationships. While the US courts have generally been liberal in interpreting laws, the road to legalization of same sex marriages does not appear smooth. There is a section that believes that judiciary can only interpret the laws and not rewrite them. There is even a strong lobby that espouses a case for federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and woman.
The argument runs along the premise that objective of marriage is to bring in union of a man and a woman so that they procreate providing the offspring a father and a mother. Any other relationship purely based on carnal desires will eventually tear the fabric of society irreparably. It is feared that gay/lesbian recognition will ruin the concept of marriage and the sanctity of family forever. Notwithstanding this opposition, there are many liberals in state governments in US who are pleading for a constitutional amendment providing for legal same-sex marriages the same privileges as enjoyed by heterosexual couples in regard to tax provisions, immigration, and inheritance.
Whatever is the legal position, homosexuality is a fact that cannot be wished away and large numbers of same sex couples do live together in India too without any inhibition. The road to a total acceptance of same sex relationship and marriage of gays and lesbians as equal to heterogeneous unions in the eyes of law and legislatures is not without its hurdles. More so in a country like India steeped in ancient culture and conservative outlook. Such relationships between two consenting adults are untested social experiments and have the potential of damaging the very social fabric of society.
Nevertheless the resistance to such aberrations is gradually weakening and the unnatural phenomenon is spreading across the world without any distinction bringing in its wake a host of new social problems. There is a sense of resignation and an attitude of “Live and let live” seems to take over unable to stop the gathering momentum of acts that were once considered immoral. Perhaps there should be a public debate on this.

1 comment:

  1. very well written this post & three years back itself you have raised awareness