Sec 377: Order of Nature or Disorder of Law?
With the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruling that homosexuality is a criminal offence as per Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which describes gay/lesbian relationship as an act “against the order of nature”, minority sex rights activists wonder what constitutes “the order of nature.”
From outright shock to disgust, the verdict has drawn sharp reactions from Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community leaders in Tamil Nadu. “I think by delivering such a judgment, the Supreme Court has protected the hypocrisy of the society at the highest levels,” said Rose Venkatesan, an activist transgender and founder of Sexual Liberation Party of India.
Dubbing it as a black day for gay sex rights, Vikranth Prasanna, founder of Chennai Dost, a community for gay men, changes its Facebook profile picture to a black flag. “This order violates the basic principles enlisted in the constitution. This is going to affect the individual liberty of a person in choosing his love life. The law treats gays in a draconian manner stating that homosexuality is unnatural. We are aggressively going to fight against this,” he said.
Vikranth points out that there is a huge risk for the gay community due to the Supreme Court order as Section 377 of the IPC can be misused. “We are already being harassed and ill-treated by the police. Unwanted raids are conducted by police on our men and huge amount of money have been extorted. The court order has brought a fear factor among gay men,” he added.
S Baskar of 4G Cluster, a social club for gay men, endorsed the view saying now the police will have an easy excuse to confront and harass homosexuals. “The court verdict is shocking. Most of the police personnel were not much serious about Section 377 IPC (after the Delhi High Court ruling decriminalising homosexuality). Now, everybody has come to know about the order. This will increase the probability of being ill-treated by law enforcing officers as well as society,” he felt.
He apprehended that the judgment will affect gay rights activism. “There was a bloom in gay rights activism after the 2009 order of the Delhi High Court. Several open events were also conducted advocating homosexuality in the State. Now due to the Supreme Court’s ruling, men who have such traits may fear to come forward and talk about it,” he pointed out.
Strongly disapproving of the judgment, leading sexologist Dr D Narayana Reddy, said ideally the law must be “upgraded” in matters of sexuality. “Though Section 377 IPC criminalises homosexual activity as being ‘against the order of nature’, the same law does not explain what is meant by against the order of nature,” he argued.