‘The Delhi High Court realised that India is changing’
Parmesh Shahani, author of Gay Bombay, speaks to Neha Bhayana on Delhi High Court's verdict legalising homosexuality in India.india Updated: Jul 03, 2009 02:34 IST
Will the ruling encourage people to come out of the closet?
I think so. The verdict has made hundreds of thousands of people feel equal in the eyes of law.
What do you think of the Delhi High Court verdict?
It’s wonderful news. The verdict is very well-worded, sensitive and progressive. It is like a shot in arm for the larger queer movement. It will encourage the community to continue its struggle. It’s not just a good thing for gays but also the straight community as India can now be counted as a progressive country which honours human rights in general and queer rights in particular.
The court said any kind of discrimination is the antithesis of the right to equality.
Essentially, the court said that the law has no business interfering in people’s personal lives or deciding whom one can desire or choose to love. This was the culmination of an ongoing process towards more inclusion. Change has been taking place at many levels simultaneously. In the political sphere, several members of the government made very positive statements recently. In the cultural space, media, books and movies have been dealing with homosexuality positively. And, at a personal level, thousands of gays and lesbians are living with pride and gaining acceptance in their homes and workplaces. The court recognised that India is changing.
Can the ruling can change people’s mindsets?
I don’t think Indians are homophobic. Historically, the country has been very accepting of plurality and diversity. It was only after the British rule that the section was included in law and the bias began. But a lot has changed over the past decade. I have spoken to a lot of conservative, straight older people. They are welcoming the decision
What should be done next?
It would be nice for the government to accept the verdict and create an atmosphere and legal framework for individuals to lead their lives the way they want.
Should the government now look at legalising gay marriages and allowing gay couples to adopt?
Those issues will come up in due course of time. I would hope for an India where gay couples can own property, pay taxes and raise children.