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Sexual orientation should be a “Freedom of Choice”

By | Ramesh Ranjan | Editor – www.humanengineers.com

The British law making homosexuality a criminal offence is as archaic and unjustified as apartheid. Despite examples of homosexuality in ancient India, people have continued to see it as moral corruption.

Hope came in 2009 when the Delhi High Court ruled that gay sex was not a crime. But in 2013, the Supreme Court overturned that decision.

With due respect to the Apex Court, but the Supreme Court’s judgment on Section 377 of IP in 2013 which inter alia penalises homosexual relations was quite unfortunate and regressive. Section 377 of the Indian constitution is a descendant of an archaic law from the colonial British rule, which described homosexual acts as “unnatural”. It was incorporated into the IPC in 1860. The judgment discloses an intolerant mindset and which is also insensitive to the real problems of those with a different sexual orientation for which they are not to be blamed nor branded.

LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community are equal citizens of this country and thus entitled to all the constitutional protections of equality, liberty, privacy, dignity and health. By setting aside the Delhi High Court ruling , the Supreme Court — the supposed protector of fundamental rights of citizens in this country, particularly the marginalized communities — has snatched away from the LGBT community all these fundamental rights. It more or less brands them as criminals and is grossly unfair.

The right to choose must be left to an individual and cannot be forced upon. As long as it is a consensual relationship between 2 adults, no one has the right to impose their views on them. It defeats the basic principles of equality, freedom and liberty enshrined in the Constitution. Its absurd to believe that relationships must be only between a man and a women. Its a norm laid down by the society in the past. Times have changed, the world has moved on and become more liberal and tolerant to diversity. In these liberalised times, people are increasingly speaking up for the rights of deviants. Even the current Pope who represents the Catholic and who were once terribly opposed to Homosexuality and same sex marriage has openly expressed that its not a sin, which shows changing mindset by religious leaders. India once again joins the ranks of countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is considered a criminal offence and the penalty is life imprisonment or even death.

There is hope again. The Supreme Court has set a constitutional bench to look into the law criminalising gay sex, saying, “societal morality changes with time”.

Its heartening that this judgement has been opened up for review by the Supreme Court after a huge public debate and seen people from all walks of life expressing their disappointment and disagreement to this judgement. The politicians for once are listening to the voice of the public and are talking about taking corrective action through an amendment to the Article 377. It is against the right to life as it includes one’s freedom to choose one’s life partner. It is an inviolable right of an individual to choose his partner for life. One must have a broad outlook to analyse the emerging trends and the transformation that society is going through.

Decriminalising sex between consenting adults will help protect the LGBTQ community from social harassment and police action.

The hearing gives hope to the community as the bench includes Justice Chandrachud, who as part of the nine-judge bench deciding the fundamental nature of right to privacy had on January 8 said that LGBTQ community members’ sexual orientation had an inseparable relationship with their fundamental right to privacy and accepted that the SC had erred in denying them that right.

Homosexuality is a social reality since mythological times, and it has been accepted worldwide. India cannot pretend not to see the reality….

Lets hope that the Supreme Court will heed to the same……..

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Ramesh Ranjan

A Business Consultant, Executive Coach, Visiting Professor, Content Manager & Editor. Ex IIM NASSCOM LRC, ex VP NHRD Bangalore Chapter, ex VP-HR@Schneider Electric, Head HR@ APC, Caltex,Co Systems, Natural Remedies. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rameshranjan/

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