It’s been 25 months since the government ruled out Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and acknowledged consensual homosexual sex between adults as legal.
But what still makes it inequitable is the constant objection offered by half the country — the constantly given looks full of disgust and words of utterly divisive judgement!
25 months of freedom and 25 additional months of remaining behind the closet!
While half of the janta is not ready to accept homosexuals and transgender people, the other half is loving and welcoming them with open arms. And with the constantly slow yet increasing rate of acceptance demands acknowledgement and awareness more than ever.
Let’s try to know more about the laws that favour the LGBT community and enable them to get their equal rights.
Same-sex marriages are not yet legal in India; neither same-sex couples are offered rights such as a civil union or a domestic partnership. However, 2011 witnessed a Haryana court granting legal recognition to a same-sex marriage involving two women.
In 2017, a draft of a new Uniform Civil Code was proposed to the Law Commission of India that also involved the demand of legalising same-sex marriages.
It defines marriage as “the legal union as prescribed under this Act of a man with a woman, a man with another man, a woman with another woman, a transgender with another transgender or a transgender with a man or a woman. All married couples in partnership entitled to adopt a child. Sexual orientation of the married couple or the partners not to be a bar to their right to adoption. Non-heterosexual couples will be equally entitled to adopt a child”.
According to Article 15 of the Constitution of India, discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth is strictly prohibited.
The Transgender Persons Act, 2019 also rules out any kind of discrimination against transgender people. However, the community have protested against it, claiming that the bill hurts the transgender community more than helping it.
Discrimination in high schools
Discrimination, bullying and ragging targeted at a student on the ground of their sexual orientation or transgender status are prohibited under the UGC Regulation on Curbing the Menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutions (Third Amendment), 2016.
Service in Indian Military
The LGBTI community is also banned from openly serving in the Indian Military. But, Member of Parliament Jagdambika Pal (BJP), in 2018, introduced a bill to the Indian Parliament to amend the Army Act, the Air Force Act, and the Navy Act that would allow LGBT people to serve in the military.
The Indian Constitution recognises transgender people as a third gender population — neither male nor female. The community got its voting rights as a third gender in 1994. Recognised as socially and economically suppressed class, they are also entitled to reservations in education and jobs and the welfare schemes framed by the union and state governments.
People from the transgender community have a fundamental constitutional right to change their gender without any surgery and the entitlement of mandatory recognition of their gender as a third gender on official documents.
In April 2019, the Madras High Court declared that the term “bride” under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 would include trans women as well.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s plan Saathiya also includes homosexuality and states, “Yes, adolescents frequently fall in love. They can feel attraction for a friend or any individual of the same or opposite sex. It is normal to have special feelings for someone. It is important for adolescents to understand that such relationships are based on mutual consent, trust, transparency and respect. It is alright to talk about such feelings to the person for whom you have them but always in a respectful manner.”
The Madras High Court, in 2019, directed Tamil Nadu to ban sex-selective surgeries on intersex infants and upheld the marriage rights of transgender women.
There is a lot to happen, loads of petitions are pending — we are yet to witness more historical judgments, and while we wait for all of those — we need to make ourselves first. We need to accept the community and tell them that they are ours, and we belong to them — that we all are equal and deserve an equal way to live our lives. We need to prove ourselves first!