INDIA\’S HUMAN RIGHTS REGRESSION

Is it anyone\’s business what consenting adults do – sexually or otherwise – when in private? 

Don\’t bother answering, I\’ll answer it for you.  Of course not.  It is nobody\’s business but theirs.

Now please read the following excerpt from Andrew Bumcombe\’s article in London\’s Independent, and find out how difficult it is for some people to understand this simple, obvious concept:

Back in 2009, Lesley Esteves was dancing inthe streets after judges in Delhi decriminalised homosexuality. When the DelhiHigh Court suspended the draconian Section 377 of the Indian penal code whichdated from the days of British rule, India\’s lesbian, gay, bisexual andtransgender community thought there was no turning back.

Five years on the euphoria has gone. InDecember, the country\’s highest court overturned the lower court\’s ruling, onceagain making gay sex a crime punishable by up to ten years in jail and puttingtens of millions of Indians at risk of prosecution or harassment. Last month,that court – which had said gay people in India were just a “minusculeminority” – upheld its decision against an appeal and said it was up to thegovernment to change the law.

But there is little chance for that. Whilesenior figures of the ruling Congress party supported repealing Section 377,the leadership of the main opposition party, which most analysts believe is setto secure power in an upcoming election, do not. As it was, the currentparliament held its last session on Friday; it could be years before a newparliament amends the law.

Campaigners have long complained that whilethat while there have been few prosecutions during the past 20 years, the law hasbeen used to harass and blackmail gay men. Driving homosexuality undergroundwould make it far harder to counter Aids and provide homosexual men withtreatment.

Furthermore, the law is at odds with variousarticles in India\’s constitution which supposedly guarantee the right to lifeand personal liberty, equality, and which prohibit discrimination.

How sad that, as so much of the world is finally realizing that – assuming the participants are adults and the activity is private – their sexual behavior is no one else\’s business, a country like India – which purports to be an open democracy – tells them that they can be severely punished for daring to act as if they are free.

And, even sadder, India knew better for years, and has decided to regress back to the past.

Maybe one day the powers that be will have another change of heart and reverse their reversal.  I hope so for the country\’s sake – and for the sake of every human being who lives there. 

What they can do to gay people they can do to straight people.  That\’s something the intolerant crowd cheering this decision ought to keep in mind.

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