When society is changing, why not change the law

HYDERABAD: Clause 377 (b) of the Indian Penal Code framed by Macaulay in 1830 criminalises the penetrator in acts of sodomy (even consensual ones). One can see immediately that the parad

Published: 24th February 2012 03:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:01 PM   |  A+A-


Gay poet Hoshang Merchant terms arguments of the moral brigade against homosexuality as ridiculous.

HYDERABAD: Clause 377 (b) of the Indian Penal Code framed by Macaulay in 1830 criminalises the penetrator in acts of sodomy (even consensual ones).

One can see immediately that the paradigm is of heterosexual sex where one party penetrates and the other is penetrated.

It punishes what Norman O. Brown calls ‘genital tyranny,’ ie, sex is only in the genitals and not in other parts of the body.

Human knowledge of human sexuality has changed in the last 150 years.

Laws in the West keep in pace with changed societal norms.

Not so in India.

Naaz Foundation, an NGO tackling AIDS and prostitution among MSMs (Men who have Sex with Men), especially in cities and towns asked the courts to strike down 377 (b).

The Delhi High Court ‘read down’ 377 (b) and righteous citizenry challenged the ruling in the Supreme Court.

Thirteen sets of parents of now-adult gay Indians backed the foundation’s efforts to defend the Delhi ruling in the Supreme Court.

The parents reason that their children are ‘different’ and are so ‘by choice’ and they do not want their children’s sexual behaviour to ‘criminalise’ them.

The arguments of the moral brigade in the Supreme Court against the legalisation have been downright ridiculous.

They wanted to know if the Delhi judgement applies to the whole land.

The two judges hearing the matter seem kindly disposed to the long-criminalised community.

They told the frivolous appellants ‘to come to the point.’ A layman knows that if the law is challenged in state-after-state and is struck down, Parliament will be obliged to change the law under our federal structure of parliamentary democracy.

The other clauses, 377 (a) and 377 (c) deal with rape, including gay-rape and forcing minors of both sexes into sexual acts.

They of course, will stand though feminists rightly want to see a change in the way law deals with women and child victims of rape.

Then there is the thorny problem of man-boy love.

The European Union had initially allowed gay marriage at 16, there being a long tradition of Greek boylove in Europe.

But under the rubic of ‘equality before law’ (with prompting from Europe’s moral brigade), the marriage age is uniformly 18 now.

Posh private schools already teach about forms of sexuality in their high-school Biology and / or moral science classes which is all to the good.

But child-psychologists still fight shy of calling homosexuality ‘a lifestyle of choice’ as it might lead to experimentation or be labeled proselytisation.

With these changes already underway, it is time the law is changed.

India Matters


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