The Supreme Court scrapped parts of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the 1862 law which criminalised homosexuality. The Delhi High Court had decriminalised homosexuality in 2009, but the decision was overturned by Supreme Court in 2013. “Section 377 is irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary,” said Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves,” said Abraham Lincoln. This law, which was put in place in 1862, criminalised not just same-sex intercourse but also consensual oral and anal heterosexual acts. While there are many who favour LGBTQ, the law still criminalised it…until today!
1. It was sex that was illegal
Same-sex marriage in India was criminalised on the grounds of sexual acts that were not considered natural. So, as per law, all penile non-vaginal sexual acts were criminalised and punishable. This can be related to marriage because, in India, the consummation of a marriage is of significance even on legal grounds.
2. It was not just illegal, it was complicated
As per the above definition, lesbian relationships were not criminal. Section 377 took into account only unnatural ‘penile’ sexual acts while remaining silent about lesbian relationships.
3. All religions have only recognised heterosexual marriages so far and we hope it changes now
Have you ever noticed how in every religion or cultural arrangement, marriages are held between a man and a woman, husband and wife or bride and groom? That’s how even our language promotes heterosexuality. Now that the SC has scrapped section 377, we hope that these institutions too change their lingo.
4. Homosexuality is as old as the Vedas
Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) has shown that around 3102 B.C., homosexuality or non-normative sexual act or identity was recognised as “tritiya prakriti”, or the third nature. It is amazing how it was called ‘prakriti’, meaning natural.
5. Ancient temples depict queerness
Puri and Tanjore temples, which were constructed between 6th and 14th centuries, depicted queerness very explicitly. This has also been mentioned by Devdutt Patnaik in his book ‘I Am Divine. So Are You: How Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Hinduism Affirm the Dignity of Queer Identities and Sexualities’. This book was presented as one of the testimonials supporting LGBTQ to the Supreme Court.
6. Our first Mughal emperor, Babur was not straight
Suprised? Read on. That Babur was infatuated with a teenage boy named Baburi has been documented in ‘Babur Nama’, his memoirs. The lovesickness of the emperor for Baburi has also received mention in various Persian couplets.
7. Section 377 was put in place by the Britishers
The ‘unnatural’ forms of sex got criminalised in 1862 when India was being ruled by the Britishers. The law was drafted by Thomas Babington Macaulay, the head of the Law Commission. The law was based in archaic Victorian morality.
8. First documented same-sex marriage in India
It was in 1987 when two policewomen, Leela and Urmila, from Madhya Pradesh married each other despite the law. However, after the ceremony, they were discharged from their duties.
9. The first country to legalise gay marriage
The Netherlands was the first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001.
10. Gay couples are happier than straight
A study conducted by the University of Queensland says, “Individuals in same-sex couples (particularly lesbian women) generally are more equitable in the ways in which they allocate domestic work, including childcare”.