According to homophobic Indians, Homosexuality is a concept of Western culture, whereas in reality homophobia is a concept of west. Because, Section 377 was enacted in the Indian Penal Code by the britishers.
Even after the monumental judgment of decriminalization of Section 377 by the apex court, there is still stigma surrounding the lgbtq community. Indians are still against homosexuality and calls it an abomination of the order of nature.
Why Indians consider that Homosexuality is against Indian culture? And when did the Indian culture decided it?
Decriminalization of Section 377
The case of Navtej Singh Johar and other vs. Union of India [(2018) 10 SCC 1], a bench of five judges of the Supreme Court decriminalized Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that stated ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ is an unlawful offence. The court declared that as [S]ection 377 criminalizes consensual sexual acts of adults (i.e., above 18 years of age who are competent to consent) in private, is violative of Article 14, 15, 19 and 21 of Indian Constitution. It is, however, clarified that such consent must be free consent, which is completely voluntary in nature, and devoid of any duress of coercion.
Since the Supreme Court has decriminalized Section 377, Indians have separated into two groups. One who are a part of lgbtq community and those who support them, and another who are against them.
Related read: What it takes being a LGBTQ in India?
Indian History of Homosexuality
Homosexuality has been a part of Indian Culture/Society ever since the pre-Islamic and pre-British period. We find the proof in the Kamasutra and various other texts. Khajuraho temple is famous for their various erotic sculptures, many of which portray homosexual activities. There are some pretty explicit depictions of queer couples in some temples constructed in Puri and Tanjore between the 6th and 14th centuries.
According to mythologist Devdutta Pattanaik, “[O]ne invariably finds erotic images including those that modern law deems unnatural and [s]ociety considers obscene.”
Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) has shown in their research that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that [h]omosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as “Tritiya prakriti”, or the third gender.
Mention of Queer relationship in ancient India
There are many mentions of queerness in ancient Indian epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Rigveda, Arthashastra, and Manusmriti.
7 instances of homosexuality in ancient Indian texts-
The deity form of Ardhanarishwara is the first depiction of queer culture that had been accepted by our ancient culture. Ardhanarishwara means half women and half men form. It was the androgynous deity form of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati. The manifestation of this androgynous form represents the masculine and feminine energy of the cosmos.
In Ramayana, when the Suryavanshi king Dilip died without leaving an heir, Lord Shiva came to his two wives, Chandra and Mala’s dreams and asked them to make love with each other so that they could conceive a son. The older queen Mala gave birth to a baby boy. As he was born of two vulvas, he was named Bhagiratha. The story further tells that this was the king who in later time brought Ganga to earth.
In Mahabharata we find the tales of Shikhandi, the feminine transgender character who was responsible for the fall of Bhishma. Shikhandi was King Drupad’s daughter and Draupadi’s older sister. She was depicted as a hermaphrodite and one of the many remarkable characters from the epics of Mahabharata.
According to Matsya purana, during Samudramanthana or the churning of milk ocean, Lord Vishnu took the form of an extremely beautiful woman to distract the asuras/demons who were greedy for the Amrit or nectar of immortality. When Lord Shiva saw Mohini, he fell in love with her, and their union led to Lord Ayyappa’s birth.
Varuna and Mitra
In the ancient text of Rigveda, there is the tale of the intimate friendship between the two same-sex gods named Varuna and Mitra. In Bhagavata Purana (6.18.3) it has been written that the union of these two gods fathered children through non-vaginal sex. Varuna fathered Sage Valmiki when his semen fell on the termite mound and when both of them discharged semen in water pots in presence of Urvasi, Sage Agasthya and Vasistha were born.
It has been written in Ramayana that when Hanumana went to Lanka in search of Devi Sita, he saw Rakshasa women kissing and embracing each other.
Arthashastra and Manusmriti
Although, both of these code of conduct books does not approve the practice of homosexuality, they certainly confirm that homosexuality is not a modern age issue from the western world. Ancient India acknowledged homosexuality long before Section 377 was enacted into the Indian Penal Code.
Also read: Why Are Women More Depressed Than Men?
Why are some Indians still against Homosexuality?
In an interview with ENQUIRY, the 3-times BJP MP Nishikant Dubey put his view on homosexuality that, he still thinks the SC was not eligible to made the law. It has always been parliament’s job to make laws and the law about the acceptance of homosexuality should have been taken care of by parliament itself. According to the Rajya Sabha member Subhramanian Swamy, fighting for lgbtq+ rights is ‘an American game’.
Indian Armed Forces still has banned lgbtq people from openly serving in the forces. The decision of not inclusion of lgbtq community in Indian Armed Forces is just not administrative. If the forces are to allow homosexuals, they might get mocked, bullied, or blackmailed by co-soldiers due to lack of awareness.
Indians are still against homosexuality is because of the stigmas related to it and lack of awareness towards the acceptance of lgbtq community. Homosexuality still remaining stigmatized in modern India is such a backward concept like British age. Love is love and it is beautiful. As consensual intercourse between same-sex couple cannot violate Indian constitution, keeping the stigmas intact against homosexuality will also not make us progressive.