Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Repeal the damn section 377

In the past few days, my mind was unable to answer two esoteric questions

1) Why is it that when i wait interminably for an important call i never get that and right when i enter into the loo, a barrage of calls pour in and all i could mutter then is SHIT(no pun intended) ??

2) Howcome am bathing everyday ??
Before i could find plausible answers to these applesaucish questions, my mind started asking a third question and surprisingly it was a serious one. Is my country being unfair to a community whose members can easily fill two cities like mumbai?? The homosexual community. Just before the days of me glued to extraaaa (those extra a's are for obvious things !!) innings, i fortunately gotto see an episode of we, the people.. And in this particular episode, the usually reclusive and reticent vikram seth was the speaker .. On further probing, i found that all the indian
luminaries like "the one-book wonder" arundhati roy, nobel laureate amartya sen n ofcourse vikram seth -who was intrepid enough to acknowledge his relation with philip honorre- have signed a petition to decriminalise the section 377 of indian penal code..

The section 377 reads as follows :
'Unnatural offences - Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years and shall be liable to fine'. Isnt this a bit too harsh on a brobdignagian number of fifty million(mind you, it is still a conservative estimate) ??

This same law also says that oral and anal sex between heterosexual couples comes under sexual perversity. It is as follows:

'Sexual perversity is the condemnation of unnatural conduct performed for the purpose of sexual satisfaction both of the active and passive partners. Any person participating in the act of copulating the mouth of one person with the sexual organ of another is guilty of the offence.'

This implies that oral sex whether it is performed between two men or two women or between a man and a woman are all offences under this statute. Clearly, it is neutral to identity and it applies to lesbians, gays, bisexuals as well as heterosexuals. However, it is the homosexuals who are the most harrowed lot. Whats ironic in this whole fiasco is that this law was introduced in accordance with the existing English Law - Offences Against the Person Act (1861). But, this law
remains intact in our country even though the acts of sodomy and homosexuality between consenting adults was de-criminalized in England (the country of its origin) through the Sexual Offences Act, 1967. No wonder then that an english man,jack straw, asks muslim women to remove their veils. And over here, we raise furore. And even USA is slowly accepting homosexuals into the society thanks to the good natured judges of pennsylvania and new orleans high courts.

Lets know our mythology a bit. The Kamasutra, demonstrates the acceptance of three genders in the society of Vedic India and its author claims that homosexual practice is allowed by the holy writ (Dharmasutras) with just a few exceptions and he devotes an entire chapter on Auparistaka (oral sex). According to the Vedic system there were eight different types of marriages and the homosexual marriage was classified under the gandharva or celestial variety.

Similarly, in Islamic Sufi literature during the Mughal era homosexual eroticism was used as a metaphorical expression of the spiritual relationship between God and man, and much Persian poetry and fiction used homosexual relationships as examples of moral love. Isnt it ironic that we preserve the temples depicting homosexual positions but hate to accept a homosexual couple into the normal society ??

If a tag of recidivist is not enough then Labour laws, Insurance laws, Housing laws, etc. are some of the non-criminal laws that affect a homosexual person.

As far as labour laws are concerned a person convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude can be punished with dismissal from the job. At times even conviction is not necessary merely the subjective opinion of the employer about the moral conduct of an employee is enough.

Moral turpitude is defined as anything that is shocking by the present moral standards of society. The fear that employers may regard homosexuality as an offence involving moral turpitude prevents gays and lesbians from coming out at their work place.

For example, under the Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme, 1952 an employee can claim a Provident Fund upon retirement, resignation or termination. The employee can also nominate a person who will receive the Provident Fund in case of his/her death.

Lets have a look at the sections define what constitutes a ‘family’.

Regulation 2(g) defines family.

“Family means,

In the case of male member, his wife, his children, whether married or unmarried, his dependant parents and his deceased son’s widow and children…

In the case of a female member, her husband, her children, whether married or unmarried, her pendent parents, her husbands dependent parents and her deceased son’s widow and children…”.

Clearly, a homosexual cannot nominate his/her partner. When no nomination is made it will automatically go to legal heirs as per personal laws.

Same is the case with Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 and Insurance Act, 1948. These Acts provide that in the event of death caused by injury at the workplace, dependants are entitled to receive compensation from the employer. The Employees’ State Insurance Act ensures that the employee and his family members are entitled to medical aid and benefits. But, here again the bias is obvious since ‘family’ and ‘dependants’ are defined in restricted terms.

Also, it must be noted that although most marriage laws do not specifically state that a valid marriage is one between members of the opposite sex, it is assumed that they consider only marriage between members of the opposite sex. Hence no valid marriage of two persons belonging to the same sex can be registered under the Hindu Marriage Act or under the Special Marriages Act or under the Indian Marriages Act.

Even if section 377 is decriminalised, it is not a panacea to liberate gays and lesbians rather the attitude toward them should change. Presently, the homosexual is constructed as a ‘pathological’ being with a ‘case history’. What was once perceived as a ‘Sin’ is now looked at as a ‘perversion due to a medical condition. For once, am forgiving arundhati roy for protesting against the death sendtence to mohammad afzal. And all i can say after this rather long write up is "Everyone needs someone to love".

P.S: My picaresque account of bangalore vis-a-vis vizag was trashed as trivial. I hope this one sounds a bit more serious.

Friday, October 13, 2006

benguluru rocks

Wats common to north korea's nuclear test, shashi tharoor's non selection as UN secretary general, booker prize to kiran desai, nobel for orhan pamuk and big b turning 64 ?? Well, these are the events which happened in the last ten days. However, my zero cognizance of these events renders me useless in writing about them. So i will write something else which happened in the last ten days- my whirlwind visit to bangalore or rather lets say benguluru(i dont want to get into skirmishes with the likes of revanna and kumaraswamy). For now, lets continue with bangalore.

After reading this write up please dont brand me voyeuristic.I hail from vizag. In my graduation days, the common opinion about bangalore among my classmates is that BANGALORE ROCKS. why ?? Not because of the IT industry but because of girls. Surprised ?? You wont be, if you are a tier-2 city denizen. Wats tier-2 city ?? Well, tier-2 city is a city which is semi-metro and ethos are predominantly conservative. It is commercially viable but for revelry aka bachhanalia it SUCKS.

In bangalore which happens to be a tier-1 city, among 100 girls one girl wears chudidar and in vizag, among 100 girls one girl wears jeans. And in my cousin's words- who hails from bhubaneshwar and who works for infosys in bangalore- in bbsr, among 200 girls one wears jeans. In the ngo's for destitutes, the children are not given bed initially to sleep on. Because it is a kind of culture shock for them. All their life, they have been sleeping on rock solid floor and now they cant adjust to the mattress. The same culture shock happens to me whenever i roam along the streets of mg road or loiter along the alleys of forum mall.

I mean, if you are a tier-2 city person, avoiding see through tops is quite difficult. Or rather lets say, your pavlovian reflexes will not let you to. I wonder if my jockey trunks are bigger than the shorts which the girls wear out there. And boy oh boy, those low necklines with ample cleavage will make a tier-2 person gasping for breath and gaping for more. And of course those harlet tops. I used to wonder, only scarlet johansson wears them regularly. But nah, bangalore has its quota of scarlett johansson's. This is the same bangalore which is going to introduce kannada from next year as a compulsory subject. Nevertheless, this is the same bangalore where led zeppelin is worshipped and tons of used condoms are extracted from the back of air conditioners of the BPO's. this is the bangalore in which everyone is hip-hop and have their own style mantras. cut to vizag, boot cut jeans are still in vogue. Pink is not yet considered "in".
And in vizag, metrosexual is the one who streaks his hair.

In our college, god save the stripling who initiates a chat with a girl. He will be the butt of ridicule . Why ?? Cos, tier-2 city guys dont have the courage initiate chat with girls. and so they mock at the ones who try to. Cut to bangalore, every guy is flanked by two girls. Do i envy him ?? NO. Wud i like to be in his place ?? YESS.. I visited crossword in bangalore. It was such a delight going there. With all those ergonomic chairs provided to whet ur appetite for books as much as you want and no one to question you. And in vizag , may god bless you if you happen to flip through the pages of book without buying. Thanks to crossword, i got the paperback of alchemy of desire and if not for my pint sized luggage bag i wud hv even bought the pirated copy of the 7 kg of sacred games. And here in vizag, sacred games original is not yet available..

However, dates at bangalore will make a dent into your wallet. A movie date would cost 400 bucks and brunch at barista another 250 at the minimum. And lo behold in vizag, everything would happen for atmost 200.. Thank god, we dont have any pvr's over here.. I am not ready to shell out 200 for some goddamn movie. I am not ready to fork out 60 bucks for broken pieces of lijjat papad rechristened as some obscure name.

I hope my write up does not sound like an 8th standard civics answer for question - difference between tier-1 and tier-2 cities. After reading this am sure, tier-1 guys will laugh, tier-1 girls will lament at me, tier-2 guys will agree and tier-2 girls will loathe me. I hope it remains so.