Decriminalization of homosexuality by the Supreme Court of the country is just the beginning of the battle. The panel discussion on Section 377 on the second day of the literature festival was one of the most interactive sessions of all. In the panel we had Aatish Taseer, Madhavi Menon, Robert Dessaix and Vasudhendra. The session was moderated by Anjali Gopalan.
Vasudhendra, expressing his views said that the society was friendlier with LGBT community than the legal system. He also expressed that there is lack of knowledge base to educate both LGBT community and the non – LGBT community. There is no information for public in vernacular languages. There is no information stock in regional languages that explains the living, culture, and lifestyle of the community in positive and healthy way. He gives one interesting instance of his life where his friend once asked him whether the gay virus had bitten him and that was the reason for his present situation. In simple terms, Vasudhendra tried to explain that the public thinks being gay-like or belonging to LGBT community is a disease. There is stigma and misconception among people because of lack of knowledge. He also tells that the community does not want sympathy but empathy is most welcomed.
Madhavi Menon rightly pointed out that the examples sighted by the courts were all western examples but much of Indian tradition were hidden. She reminded us of the Aravanis of Tamil Nadu and she also admitted that before tapping our back for the good for the community, we also need to understand that we have got this freedom at the cost of many losses.
Robert Dessaix , an Australian novelist , essayist, and journalist tried to compare the situation here in India to back in Australia. 18 years ago, homosexuality became legal in Australia. He clearly expressed that Australians “couldn’t give a fine duck” whether or not someone was gay. He even mentioned that only the uneducated Australians care about sexual identity. He also made a point that India has a good narrative with cultures, traditions coinciding opposite to those of Christian and Islamic states that only have right and wrong. He believes India has to change the narrative style of its own and that will take another 100 years for us to reach the point.
Aatish Taseer made a point of meeting the truth. He spoke about the time his grandmother read his book for the first time where he openly admitted that he was gay. According to him, It may be difficult for anyone to suddenly accept the point but it will in turn bring strong waves of positivity.
About the Author: Aishwarya A Rajpurohit is a student journalist at National School of Journalism, Bangalore. She presently writes for Bookstalkist.