I think it’s important to pause time a little to appreciate everything the Supreme Court as an institution has decided to write down a few days ago.
I’ve been holding off on typing out a blogpost which summarized all of my thoughts and feelings – outside of legalese, until I read the judgement – because I felt it would be unfair for me to do so. Don’t ask me why, my brain is a little weird and elects to do things like this. Multiple naps later, I have accomplished my objective and hence can be objective (hey? but also not really.) about everything that’s happened.
Here is some context. In India, there was a Law – that is Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The Law criminalized “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”. This was enforced against individuals who are not heterosexuals – thereby criminalizing all homosexual activity in India (at minimum). The (at minimum) is important to understand because there was little to no clarity about what was meant by the “order of nature” – and there are multiple questions about whether the Court, or the State gets to decide what the “order of nature” is, by means of Law.
Anyway. The other important thing to understand about India is that our social fabric is complicated, to say the least. I wouldn’t want to generalize and call it regressive, but there are enough and more people within Indian society who are far too nosy, do not understand the concept of personal autonomy and choice, and generally make it difficult to find “identity”.
There have been attempts to get this Section struck down in the past. The Indian legal system assesses all Laws according to the Constitution – which establishes basic norms for Laws to follow and says things like “Laws should not violate fundamental rights”. The act of “striking down” by the Court is effectively a ruling that says that a particular Law is contrary to the principles within the Constitution. This is the simplest way of explaining things.
Only one attempt was successful. And the joy of that attempt was far too short-lived. The Indian Court system works on a system of appeals and a Court hierarchy. The High Court said S. 377 was unconstitutional, but the Supreme Court said it was fine. And so the legislation continued.
That was until a few days ago.
What took place a few days ago was the culmination of the efforts of far too many people, and the correction of a social injustice that has been taking place for far too long. If you want to assess the impact a Court decision can make to an individual’s life – without it being something tangible, like the value of inheritance, or the conferring of a property right, you should assess the impact this case will have on an entire generation of people.
My roommate asked me how long I thought this decision would take to actually come into effect. And I couldn’t give him an answer. Because while it’s an excellent step – it’s merely the beginning of a lot of change yet to come.
Our world is heteronormative. We’ve normalized heterosexuality, nay, glorified it, to the extent that people have been shocked by preferences that are different. This behaviour of ours, while unhealthy, has led to a situation where people are uncomfortable with a public acceptance of who they are – and this concept applies to things beyond sexuality as well.
But for the confines of this post, if we were to restrict ourselves to a discussion on sexuality.
It’s so strange to think that two people who love each other deeply could never publicly display their affection with the same comfort that two others do – especially if they want to.
It’s odd, for me, to think that people have to hide what they’ve known about themselves – and face severe bullying for revealing to people who they really are.
It’s surprising that the Law played complicit to this. And it’s terrible that this is a remnant of our colonial past.
For everything we’ve done as a free country, you can think of this case as another positive step toward freedom – one of prejudices. I believe one of the judges have stated that we owe the LGBTQIA community (and you can add letters to that abbreviation), because of the prejudice they have faced. I think that we owe them an apology, but also more than an apology, a lot of corrective behaviour.
I’m not entirely sure how that’s going to play out.
I need to explain. I’m socially privileged because I’m a boy who is heterosexual. By socially privileged, I mean that the level of discrimination and generally “icky” social things I have to combat on a daily basis are far lower than different groups of individuals. That “privilege” needs to go. I shouldn’t be in a position where I’m treated in a superior manner to another person because of my “identity”.
That’s just odd.
And I’m happy the Court said 493 pages of things that are in places far too verbose, but for the large part, ought to be said.
School is a weird place. We crack “gay” jokes very often, I think. And label things like shirts as being “gay”, or people are being “gay” because they act a certain way. I think stereotyping is generally an art that little kids are masters of, and a terribly politically incorrect art that has somehow descended into humour on the playground, or worse, in the locker room. We’ve all been complicit in this at some point or another. That’s one of those things that might change with generations to come. And I’m hopeful that it does. I’m also sorry I played a part in attaching a negative connotation to the phrase “gay” – because it doesn’t have a negative connotation at all.
Today’s an excellent day to watch Nanette, by Hannah Gadsby.
It’s also an excellent day to think about how screwed up the first 20 years of your existence have been if your own country arbitrarily and artificially created 2 classes of people within the same species.
And be reminded by Twitter that we still have caste as a problem.