What Next After Banning 377? – Asks Arunima Gururani

On September 6, 2018, the Supreme Court of India, in a landmark judgment decriminalized homosexuality by rendering Section 377 unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has reversed its own 2013 decision on the archaic law. While large sections of the population celebrated with Pride flags and cheers of equality in love, there were still certain groups and individuals that opposed this decision.

I believe it’s wonderful that a social movement could influence and convince the state to decriminalize homosexuality. However, at the same time, I feel that there is so much more that we need to achieve to make sure that people from the LBTQIA+ community feel safer and accepted. I’m saying this because while we have achieved legal acceptance for individuals, but there is still such a long way to go in order to create a social acceptance for people who identify themselves within the LGBTQIA+ community.

After the court verdict, I could see the happiness that unfolded around me online – and honestly, this is such a bad time to not be home in Delhi because I really wanted to see the celebrations out on the street. But the point I’m trying to make is that yes, this is a massive win for us yet we must not let the fire die.

People’s opinions are often very hard to change. The happy tweets and Facebook post were great, but there were also those trolling around saying that homosexuality is unnatural. In fact, yesterday I had a conversation with a person who was clearly homophobic and honestly, seemed to have no intention of engaging in a discussion. The person said that he didn’t mean to be homophobic and just wanted to ‘ask questions’. However, just because one is posing their opinion in a ‘nice way’, doesn’t take away the fact that they were being homophobic. I usually don’t engage in a lot of online arguments, but I just couldn’t let a troll ruin this wonderful day. So, at first, I was being very patient because I felt that a conversation might just help them understand how homosexuality is as natural as their heterosexuality.

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But he did what trolls and haters do best – he started making unrelated arguments and infantilizing me. Anyway, what we can see is that people have their own judgments which they very nicely call ‘opinions’. Little do people realize the difference between their opinion and their judgment.

I also saw a video in which a journalist was out on the streets, trying to get reaction out of people in Delhi on section 377. It was interesting to see that how deeply rooted and problematic our notions of love and marriage are. A few people were okay with the idea of same-sex couples but couldn’t understand the idea that they may want to get married some day. On asking what the problem with marriage equality is, everyone said that same-sex couples won’t be able to have kids, which of course is the only purpose of marriage in a country with the second largest population (eye roll).

There is so much discomfort among people about homosexuality that just the legalization of it won’t help. We need to sensitize people and work towards removing the label of it being something abnormal and unnatural – because who are we to decide what is normal and what isn’t? In fact, what even does constitute as normal, anyway? There is such a long way to go, but as people who believe in equal rights and respect for all irrespective of their sexual orientation or anything else, we need to keep going. Yes, decriminalization is great, but unfortunately, that hasn’t been able to get the LGBTQIA+ community the respect that they deserve in society.

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