Section 377 New Hope – LGBT rights in India
Hope for LGBT rights in India
Section 377 New Hope
Please see this press report.
Gay sex not a crime, says RSS, raises hopes of govt rethink
NEW DELHI: In a significant statement that overturns the Sangh Parivar’s conservative view of same-sex relations, RSS has come out in support of decriminalising homosexual relationships, saying sexual preference is not a crime as long as it does not impinge on the lives of others.
Speaking at the India Today conclave on Thursday, RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale said, “Why should RSS have an opinion on homosexuality? It is not a crime as long as it does not affect the lives of others. Sexual preferences are personal issues.”
The categoric statement by the BJP’s ideological mentor raises the hope that the government could push to rescind the colonial era law (Section 377 of IPC) that makes homosexuality a crime though opinion in most political parties is loaded against same-sex relations. The top RSS functionary’s comments come in the wake of BJP MPs taking the lead to vote out Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s private member’s bill seeking to decriminalise homosexuality in Lok Sabha at the introduction stage itself.
However, there have been a few voices in support of decriminalising same-sex relations within BJP. Finance minister Arun Jaitley publicly stated that the Supreme Court had taken a conservative view of the issue. His view is seen as a minority voice in the party and the wider political spectrum where the subject remains a taboo.
“When you have millions of people involved in this (gay sex), you can’t nudge them off,” Jaitley had said, adding that the Supreme Court had taken a “conservative view”. The minister said, “Jurisprudence world over is evolving, I think the judgment was not correct and, probably at some stage, they may have to reconsider.”
Prior to Jaitley’s statements, RSS member Ram Madhav — currently a BJP general secretary — had said that irrespective of one’s view of homosexuality, it was highly debatable where this constituted a crime.
However, the party went contrary to Jaitley’s view on homosexuality in Parliament to defeat Tharoor’s private member’s bill calling for decriminalizing homosexuality. In fact, Lok Sabha voted twice against Tharoor’s move in the last three months, where the BJP has absolute majority. India is in a minority of 70 countries where homosexuality is a criminal offence.
Section 377 criminalises homosexuality as “unnatural” sex with a maximum punishment of up to 10 years in jail even if it is between two consenting adults.
RSS can never be against gays. Some of their own leaders are known as gays and running away from wives.
Striking a blow for personal freedoms, the Delhi HC had in 2009 called Section 377 discriminatory and struck it down. However, the SC in December 2013 upheld the 158-year-old law, a relic of the British era, outraging liberals and LGBT activists alike.
In relief to the LGBT community last month, the SC referred the curative petition to review its 2013 order to a constitution bench.
A video on the subject: