July 02, 2009


In yesterday's Hindustan Times (July 1), I found a letter titled "Section 377 should stay", and this is what it said:

India has a rich cultural heritage, which has been preserved in spite of adverse criticism and numerous foreign invasions in the past. But when the law minister talks about revoking Section 377 of the IPC, which will decriminalise homosexuality, it sends out a wrong message to the international community. If the government has its way, the pride that we take in being different from Western countries will be lost forever. Homosexuality is unnatural, hideous and shouldn't be decriminalised.

RK Sharma

When I read this, I couldn't help wondering, is this representative of the thinking in the country as a whole? Does this mean that the whole effort to overturn Section 377 is doomed? Besides, is this person even aware that this is a law that was put on the books by one of those Western countries s/he thinks we are "different from"?

Well, the best news of I don't know how long is what transpired in the Delhi High Court today. The judges there did overturn Section 377. No longer are our gay brothers and sisters breaking the law by doing what the rest of us do with not even a thought of the law.

I don't know what kind of peculiar pride RK Sharma is talking about, but I'll tell you this: today I feel a great pride in my country. Today gives reason for every Indian to celebrate. Today is our heritage, expressed in full measure.

(Some reactions here).


Pareshaan said...

Are Gay rights really that important? Whenever I hear all this brouhaha about Gay people and their worries I wonder why the world is so obsessed with Homosexuals. They (whether it be in the the States or back home in India) do not to the best of my belief make up a very large precentage of the population. And I am not aware of two consenting adults being put to death by the law because they had sex with each other while being of the same sex - again neither in the west nor the east.
So what is the big deal about the Delhi HC's decision and why should somebody who isn't gay be concerned?
Is it because a lot of us are in the closet that we are so enamoured with how are gay bros and sisters fare?
Honestly I couldn't care less about gay folks - and it confounds me that they are able to get such huge amount of media coverage the world over.
How does their choice of sexual partners make them so special?
It's almost as though the world had sorted all it's other problems out and gay woes were filling up the vacuum - What a load of Horse-Shit.

km said...


Systematic targeting of and discrimination against a class of people - as identified by a certain criterion - is the issue here.

why should somebody who isn't gay be concerned?

Read above.

Nikhil said...

Did you miss the reactions of these worthies?


Nikhil said...

Interesting to see if votebank politics will come to play again

Renegade Division said...

Did you hear RK Sharma's comment on Sati practice.

"India has a rich cultural heritage, which has been preserved in spite of adverse criticism and numerous foreign invasions in the past. But when the religious reformer like Raja Ram Mohan Rai talks about making Sati illegal, it sends out a wrong message to the international community. If the government has its way, the pride that we take in being different from Western countries will be lost forever. Widows are unnatural, hideous and shouldn't be allowed to live and must die with their deceased husbands."

Jose said...

@Renegade Division
Liked it...

Anonymous said...

Pareshaan, it is sad that you feel that way. For somebody who is not a homosexual, the reason that you should be concerned about this law is to answer the simple question - are you really ok with Murli Manohar Joshi or Mayawati determining what you can do behind closed doors? The law that makes homosexuality illegal also does not allow oral sex, anal sex, masturbation, 3somes, and any other kind of sex which does not lead to a baby - is this what you pay your government for? To define what kind of sex you can have? Have you no sense of independence? As a heterosexual person, you should support this law simply because who you love, and what you choose to do in private, with nobody else being harmed, is your business, is YOUR choice, not the government's. Whether somebody has been put to death or not over this law is besides the point.

ALSO, please replace the word Gay in your comment with the word Muslim / Low-Caste / Sikh / Christian. All of these groups don't make a up a 'majority' of the population either. Why should we care about them? The point of a democracy and a free republic is to ensure that EVERYONE gets to be treated equally _BEFORE THE LAW_. EVERYONE.

Aditi said...

I think this comment from the Economist's article sums it up best:


where there is freedom of thought there is creativity. Where there is creativity there will be prosperity.

Good luck to India to dare to let her people think differently.

mdeals said...

i feel pride on my country.they gives reason to every indian celebrate this day.

Anonymous said...


I guess a part of the credit for this historic judgment must go to you too. The Delhi High Court's judgment, in paragraph 50 on pg 42, cites Pt Jawaharlal Nehru's quote from your book "Branded by Law: Looking at India's Denotified Tribes".

How satisfying is that? Way to go brother.


Dilip D'Souza said...

Lots to respond to, will get to it slowly, either here or in another post or both.

Pareshaan, one or two people have answered you adequately (pay no attention to the abuse), so I won't, except to reiterate this: What percentage of the population believes or follows something doesn't define right and wrong.

Nikhil, why am I not surprised that you pointed to that report and missed this one?

Aditi, thanks for that quote. Precisely right.

Pankaj, thanks for noticing and for your comment.

Phoenix said...

I posed as both Ot and Azuos above. I need to confess this. I could not help the abuse emmerging from fingers.

B said...

congratulations Dilip on the recognition. Do you know where I can get the court ruling? I've tried in the usual places (Hindu resources, BBC external links, 377-websites, nic.in etc.)

Anonymous said...

This is one place the judgment is available:



Dilip D'Souza said...

B, thank you.

There's Pankaj's pointer. I got a copy off the "Full text of Delhi HC judgement" link on this page. Strangely, even though it says PDF, it downloads a CMS file; once I renamed it to PDF, it opened fine.

Suresh said...

132. We declare that Section 377 IPC, insofar it criminalises consensual sexual acts of adults in private, is violative of Articles 21, 14 and 15 of the Constitution.

Perhaps it's just me but I find this sentence in the concluding paragraph of the judgment troubling. If one takes it seriously, then it means that the government cannot enact any law forbidding incestuous relations between consenting adults unless they change Articles 14, 15 and 21 also.

Now many European states and the US have decriminalized homosexuality -- in some cases, even allowed same-sex marriages -- and yet have laws forbidding incestuous relationships even between consenting adults. So I am curious: Are the provisions of Article 14, 15 and 21 of our constitution so strong that they prevent our government - even if it wants to - from enacting laws against consensual incestuous relationships? That sounds very odd.

For the record, there seems to be no law in India forbidding incestuous relationships between consenting adults. I asked this question at the excellent Law and Other Things blog and one of the contributors - Tarunabh Khaitan - responded that there was no law to the best of his knowledge forbidding incestuous relationships between consenting adults though there were provisions forbidding marriages between close relations.

The question, though, still remains: Are the provisions of Articles 14, 15 and 21 as strong as the Delhi High Court claims? Perhaps once the euphoria over the judgment evaporates, someone will write a detailed critique of the judgment.