Dec 12 2013

Two setbacks for gay rights

Yesterday saw two setbacks for gay rights, in India and Australia.

In 2009, the Indian supreme court overturned a 153-year old British law that forbid gay sex and imposed punishments of up to ten years. That decision was seen as a major step forward in a part of the world where attitudes towards the LGBT community can only be described as appalling.

But yesterday, as a result of a new case, the supreme court reversed itself and re-imposed the ban, using surprisingly intolerant language to justify its action.

Few expected the legal challenge launched by conservatives – including Muslim and Christian religious associations, a rightwing politician and a retired government official turned astrologist – to succeed. The supreme court is known for its broadly progressive judgments that often order politicians or officials to respect the rights of the poor, disadvantaged or marginalised communities.

However, critics said that the wording of the judgment – which refers to the “so-called rights of LGBT persons”, describes same-sex relations as “against the order of nature” and says that “lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders constitute only a miniscule fraction of the country’s population” – reveals deep prejudice

Hindu and Christian bigots put out their usual inane ‘arguments’, which basically boil done to “I don’t like it and hence I want to ban it and so will make up some reason”.

Among the supporters of the challenge was Baba Ramdev, a Hindu holy man with a mass following who has fought a long legal battle to maintain the ban on gay sex.

At a press conference following the judgment, Ramdev invited the gay community to his yoga ashram where he said he would “cure them of homosexuality”, which he described as “unnatural, uncivilised, immoral, irreligious and abnormal”. He said he would do so by “keeping them in a room with a heterosexual for a few days”.

Tanuja Thakur, a Hindu spiritual leader, told the Guardian: “When two people of same sex indulge in a physical activity, it goes against nature. And anything unnatural is criminal in nature.”

He said homosexuality was “happening because society is not doing enough spiritual practice”.

The Australian high court also took that country backwards when it overturned a law passed by the Australian Capital Territory that allowed same-sex marriage, saying that the territory could not contradict a federal law passed in 2004 that only allows marriage between a man and a woman. A bill last year that sought to legalize same-sex marriage failed to pass, largely because of opposition by Christians.

Despite these setbacks, the changes are going to come because (a) the arguments against them make no sense and (b) young people are far more accepting of same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

If there is one thing that I am absolutely certain of, it is that same-sex marriage and other markers of equality for the LGBT community are sure to come to pass.


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  1. 1
    Doug Little

    If there is one thing that I am absolutely certain of, it is that same-sex marriage and other markers of equality for the LGBT community are sure to come to pass.

    Yeah true but I want them to come to pass quickly enough so that it makes all the fuckwitted mega assholes who appose equality squirm and feel uncomfortable for a good number of years before shuffling off this mortal coil.

  2. 2
    Pierce R. Butler

    … anything unnatural is criminal in nature.

    I call for the arrest of Tanuja Thakur for crimes against nature, one count for each time he has ingested cows’ milk or any product made from same.

    Consuming the bodily secretions of another species – without first tearing its throat open with fang and claw? Ewwww!

  3. 3

    “He said homosexuality was “happening because society is not doing enough spiritual practice”.”

    Translation: Things that I don’t like are happening because people don’t do what I say, and don’t give me enough money. Now do what I say, and give me money!!

  4. 4
    Pierce R. Butler

    … he said he would “cure them of homosexuality”, … by “keeping them in a room with a heterosexual for a few days”.

    This experiment has already been carried out in numerous dormitories, barracks, and prisons (plus some ashrams), Baba Ramdev. Results varied from zero change to minor increases in homosexual behavior. May you have better luck with your brain next incarnation!

  5. 5

    I heard on the radio that the Indian supreme court ruling was made on strictly legal grounds after challenges from religious groups, the argument being that they couldn’t legally overrule a law that way. So the religious win one more battle through the courts. However, as noted in the judgement, the ball is now in the politicians’ court to repeal this barbaric law, and as you observed public opinion has swung greatly on this issue and in the long run it’s inevitable. Here’s hoping that public pressure will force the repeal soon.

  6. 6

    An interesting insight, because I was thinking that might be the case with the Australian law, similar to how US State laws often run afoul of the US Constitution.

    A setback to be sure, but in many ways a victory for the rule of law.

  7. 7

    A minor correction in the discussion of the court’s decision in India – the 2009 decision was delivered not by the Supreme Court of India, but by the Delhi High Court. The decision was then challenged in the Supreme Court, which reversed the lower court’s decision.
    Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ruling-regressive-say-gay-rights-activists/article5447094.ece?ref=relatedNews

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