Organisers of the Mumbai Gay Pride, Queer Azaadi, have spent the past two days celebrating the amendment of Section 377. But they are yet to decide the agenda for year’s Pride, to be held on August 16.
They’re clear on one thing: the law may have been amended, but the divide runs deeper. It’s an entire social mindset that needs amendment.
Geeta Kumana (42), founder of the Anchal Trust, who helped organise the Pride last year, feels that for social stigma to end, more people need to come out and society needs to be sensitised.
That homophobia exists, is indisputable. Take this update on Twitter, the latest social networking phenomenon: “India decriminalises homosexuality. This is wrong and against the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ, the creator of this world!” (suthan_na)
Many still feel that homosexuality should find no place in our society. Pankaj Aggarwal, General Secretary, Delhi RWAs’ Joint Front says: “I will not allow a gay couple to live in my locality.”
Manvi Thakkar (name changed), 70, a Mumbai housewife, believes “this verdict will give a wrong impression especially to youngsters.” “I believe only a woman who can run a household, two men cannot manage themselves…”
Yet for every voice raised against the amendment there seem to be many more supporting it. And they realise that this is just a battle won, the war is still being fought. “So while my gay friends are celebrating on the streets, they must accept that this is a very small beginning in their long struggle to be accepted,” writes author Anil Thackraney on his blog. He adds: “A lot of work needs to be done, starting with public campaigns to reposition gay life in the ill-informed janta’s minds and hearts.”
Samanyu Satpathy, Head of Delhi University’s English Department, who pioneered an M. Phil course in queer literature, feels that while the judgement will make a difference where personal space is concerned, social acceptance will not come soon. “Parents will still be anguished over their child’s sexual choices and society will discriminate,” he said.
Here’s an SMS and Twitter joke which shows the perception problem in our society: “Please work hard and keep your boss in good humour as he can legally take ur a**: Sec 377 is not a crime now!!”