Where there is a way, leave it up to us Indians to find a will—a will to misuse, abuse and exploit! In a country known for its intolerance towards sexual minorities, young people are now grabbing at the homosexuality straw to buy an emigration ticket.
According to a story in the Times of India today (22 May 2006), pairs of men are lining up outside the consulates of various countries that recognize same-sex civil unions or marriage, citing persecution by the authorities in order to get asylum.
Lest we dismiss it as yet another amusing story, incidences such as these undermine the attempts of the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender communities in India to gain acceptance. The infamous Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code makes “carnal intercourse voluntarily against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal [punishable] with imprisonment for life, or imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall be liable to fine”. Note the term “voluntarily”—making even consensual sex a crime!—violating a person’s fundamental right to life and liberty, not to mention dignity.
Incidentally, as the story pointed out, there seem to be fewer cases of lesbian couples seeking asylum, speculating that two-headed monster of homophobia plus patriarchy keeps homosexual women in India deeper in the closet than men.
Section 377 is a relic of the colonial past, framed by the British authorities in the 1860s, apparently having replaced more tolerant social attitudes towards alternate sexualities. What is ironical is, the same law was repealed in the UK in 1967. However, like a good little former colony, we deem it necessary to carry this legacy of intolerance forward!