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.


At 1:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

good one jagan!!!

At 1:07 AM, Anonymous keerthi said...

after a long wait this one showd u've done a lot of homework...wasnt aware bout the not-so-known aspects of 377..

At 2:46 AM, Blogger sowmi said...

really good...just keep this pace and no one can stop from what you want to become..

At 3:31 AM, Blogger Bharat Jhurani said...

m enlightened.. nd agree wit u dude. The world's largest democracy shld b large enuf 2 allow for any sexual orientation...

At 7:39 AM, Blogger ~~sim~~ said...

neva knew so much ..

At 10:27 PM, Blogger Sameera said...

a lot of info here jagan
im not really sure what ur gettin at..maybe i wasnt reading as well as i shd be

i agree however that we need to open up to the idea of homosexuality
and the law defining what two consenting adults indulge in as "illegal" or "wrong" is just plain stupid..

guess somethings in this country will remain this way

ps-notice a change in ur writing..esp the topics ur talking about..

ur becoming way tooo bold :)

At 10:52 PM, Blogger garcia kafka said...

@sameera: Thanks to some regular readers like u, i guess i found my audience.. so i started believing in myself and writing thinking tht u will be reading watever i write.. :)

At 11:38 PM, Anonymous sameera said...

jagan watz got into ur head re....lol u got no damn topic in da world kya..but nyways i always admired ur blogs frm da tym v met in orkut...good use of language but buddy vary da topics of discussion other thn...u knw wat!!!!!

At 1:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

awe some dude
u really exceed ur self
its time for a light topic
save for the banglore girls flak

At 10:03 PM, Anonymous hafiza said...

hey jagan..i luv ur blogs but i 2 agree with sameera...keep varyin the topics ya...

At 2:50 AM, Blogger Beau Peep said...

Excellently put. I agree with you. 377 has no place in the 21st Century.

At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmm....is this why u suggested what you suggested in my blog???

well....its not about sex....not in all cases...in my case it was that i had been away from home for so long, with really little interaction with people...and the only people i interacted with were people from work....and like i said to someone else today, i enjoy flirting harmlessly, cuz it releases endorphins-happy hormones...
thats it....

At 10:56 AM, Blogger nisha said...

this is amazing!!

amazing that the government regulations could be so lightless, sightless and i cant find de right words.....

looking at logic and laws of probability how could it be possible not to have homosexuality prevalent within a race.

having laws condemning homosexuality and various methods of sexual gratification is again stupid. sex itself is an art and cannot be restricted and like all arts will evolve.

and not having the required provisions in the laws to accomadate speaks of unfinished work everywhere. whether legal or nor not provisions / exemptions or whatever terms have to be slotted in.

once again Monsieur Kafka you have illumed upon beautifully and i feel this blog should be posted, splattered all over de blog lands far n wide !!


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