On Wednesday morning, Abhina dressed in her finest clothes. It was a big day for her. See, she’s a Transgender Activist.
Some people called me one but I had to decline. I work with the Hijra. A traditional Indian Eunuch culture. I don’t pretend to understand a lot of trans culture, I just was a doctor who didn’t feel uncomfortable treating them.
Abhina Aher is the real deal though.
And what she was getting dressed for was a landmark event in India history. All the signs were there. The will of the people, the complete lack of acceptance of fear mongering. But it did not go according to plan.
The celebrations planned were not going to take place. The Supreme Court of India struck down the liberalisation of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. In plain English? It had Re-Criminalised Homosexual relationships.
This was a different GLBT of India than in 2009. The first major pride march in India celebrated the overturning of the criminalisation of “unnatural sex acts”.
This was seen as an act of modernisation. That India was entering an age of liberal politics rather than the politics of sectarianism and corruption.
The new verdict changed all that. Already lauded by such luminaries of progress such as Baba Ramdev and other social conservatives who put aside their differences between Hindu, Muslim and Christian violence to hate on the one group of people they all (quite weirdly since Hinduism has no anti-Gay rules) dislike.
It is against the culture of India.
No it’s not. India has had a long history of transgender and GLB people in it. The Hijra are older than Islam in India. This is a white washing of Indian history since it’s the adoption of Victorian morals. Quite literally in the case of Christianity. Hinduism’s adoption of such simply boils down to the notion that people shouldn’t talk about sex and sex should be “missionary”.
Section 377 makes a fair few straight sex acts illegal too. It can be used to charge anyone performing oral sex.
But it’s not all bad. The Congress party leaders and many progressive politicians have started to suggest that the entire legislative should work towards changing the law rather than the courts. After all? The Supreme Court upholds the laws, the law is clear. Until the constitution is changed that is.
So what does this mean? Unfortnately it is a General Election year and the Congress party are Scandal Hit. The incoming party is likely to be the BJP and Hindu nationalists are unlikely to find common cause with the GLBT.
So if Congress strike section 377 from the IPC before then it’s good.
If not then the GLBT are in for a long struggle before they are recognised.