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A celebration of gaiety

delhi Updated: Jul 02, 2009 21:40 IST
Shakeel Sobhan

It was a victory and the celebration of a victory. People gathered on the Jantar Mantar Road, on Thursday, to celebrate the Delhi High Court ruling that legalized consensual gay sex. A law (Article 377), that deemed homosexuality a crime, dating back to more than a century, had been challenged and scrapped.

The people convened at the venue were members of the Naz Foundation, other gay rights' activists as well as people who supported the cause. There was singing, dancing and cake distribution.

"It's a wonderful judgement. It says a lot about equality and the end of discrimination. It is great to have people's rights recognised," voiced Prannada, a queer rights activist.

The general feeling amongst the people was that human rights are universal and that there should be no discrimination when it comes to human rights. Getting consensual gay sex out of the purview of Article 377, showed that the gay community was finally being granted their rights.

Bina Akhtar of the Naz Foundation said that the fight for social acceptance is still on. "And it'll come, slowly but surely," she added.

"Times had already changed. Now it's just the recognition that is coming in. And the change was a long time due too. It will take sometime to eradicate the social stigma but we'll get there. The future can only get better and better," said Andi, a photojournalist with The Outlook.

Nienke, another activist, believes that it was a historic judgement and very progressive in nature. "It would surely trickle down to the other courts," she smiled with hope.

Delhi is resonating with the joy and gaiety of the queer community and as this reporter went around the city searching for people's opinions on the issue, a diverse array of thoughts came through - though not all as kind or as friendly as expected.

"I think nobody wants to be gay of their own accord. Situations and friend circles commit people to be gay," said Amarjot Singh.

"I don't think it is good. I believe there should be intermingling between the sexes," said Ketan, a college student.

Bhanu Pratap Narayan Mishra, an astrologer and a politician was of the opinion that man should not go against nature. "God created man and woman to procreate. The concept of homosexuality goes against the laws of nature. It disturbs nature's balance. Homosexuality is the aberration of a miniscule minority. They are setting a bad example for the society which bores ill for the society," he said.

"At the end of the day gay sex is unnatural. Up until now even though gay sex was criminalised, these people were so vocal, hyper about it. Now that it has been legalised, it is going to be worse. Crimes would increase, as would diseases," said an observer, on the condition of anonymity.

But then there was also hope that the city has its arms wide open for the queer community.

"It's a time for celebration! The judgement is a huge compliment for all those who have put in years of hard work and the efforts. I particularly feel joyous. Its not about gay rights. It's about human rights, fundamental rights for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community. It took us a decade to get here but now that we are here, I believe, we'll make it all the way. Acceptance is individualistic, but tolerance is the need and we're moving towards it," said Makepeace Sitlhou, a student of DU.

While Prashanna, a Greenpeace activist, advocated that it's high time that India starts accepting certain things. "In India we should not even have to fight for gay rights. This is the land of Khajuraho and Lord Aiappa, son of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. In that sense, fighting for gay rights in India is ridiculous. Tagging people by their sexuality is atrocious. We Indians, like to call ourselves tolerant but we need to act so too," she said.

A big cheer, is what Raghav Pasricha commented on the judgement, while Reecha Upadhyay believed that it might be the beginning of a struggle but public opinion was changing and that we were moving towards the end of discrimination. Both of them are queer rights' activists.

Perhaps the most pertinent of words came from Yuji Hakozaki, a Japanese photographer. When asked what he thought about this historic judgement, he thought for a while, struggling to overcome the language divide, smiled and said, "Open your heart…"