India: A bestselling Indian author has publicly described the country’s anti-gay law as “immoral” and “a collective sin” while urging for scrapping of the law and for Indians to shun “hypocrisy” in their attitude on same-sex relations.
“Indians are extremely good at is detaching ourselves from misery, injustice and conflict. We go about our lives as if India`s big problems don’t exist…Another thing we are good at is not discussing any problems that have a sexual angle” wrote Chetan Bhagat in an op-ed piece for the mass circulation Times of India daily.
“In all this denial and hypocrisy we have buried and accepted a gross injustice that affects millions of Indians and clubs our nation with some of the most backward, regressive regimes in the world. It is the issue of gay rights, or the infamous Section 377, that still exists in our law books and criminalizes homosexuality,” he said.
With around at least 8 percent of the country gay, “we make 100 million Indians criminals and go about our daily lives as if their concerns are irrelevant to us. To me, this is nothing short of a collective sin,” wrote Bhagat.
Contrary to the religious, moral, political and legal standpoints involved that may want to criminalise same-sex relations, there is enough reason to not do so, said Bhagat, who the The New York Times described as “the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history” and Time magazine naming him as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Bhagat cited from the Rig Veda Hindu text to tell the 1.2 billion Indians, more than 80 percoent of who are Hindus that Hinduism teaches ‘Vikruti Evam Prakriti’ or “perversity/ diversity is what nature is all about, or what seems unnatural is also natural.”
He however advices gay people that “We live in a conservative country that needs to change, but change happens slowly” and that “any breakthrough in gay rights should not spill out on the streets, in the form of Western inspired gay parades… We have to nudge a conservative, almost hostile society towards change. If we freak them out, they will only withdraw further.”
He said that the Section 377 law that that describes same-sex relations as “unnatural” and punishable with life imprisonment which the Indian Supreme Court past December reinstated is “not an Indian law but an inheritance of British law…nothing but a relic of an unscientific, Victorian past.”
Hence, he concludes, “Gay or not, we need to do this. We need to remove Section 377. We need to move ahead in the world.