Saturday, October 18, 2008

Homophobe Patil Is A Pain In The Ass





By Roger Alexander

Would you believe it? India’s Union Cabinet is stuffed with a bunch of paranoid homophobes. If Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code – which criminalises same sex love – is repealed, it would “have far-reaching consequences,” they claim. Not only that, legalising gay sex would raise “law-and-order issues” and that society – except for some sections of urban India – wasn’t ready for it. Ironically, the homophobic charge is led by the effeminate union home minister Shivraj Patil.

The fertiliser hit the PMO’s air-conditioning when Union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss decided to back a widely held view that Section 377 was an anachronistic law that ought to be repealed. Ramadoss and the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) want homosexuality to be made non-punishable, citing it as a health problem. They argue that Section 377 is hampering the anti-AIDS drive in the country.

In fact, NACO, in its affidavit to the Delhi High Court argues, “Enforcement of Section 377 can adversely contribute to pushing HIV positive persons underground, which would make such risky sexual practices to go unnoticed. The National Commission on Women and the Planning Commission also support the repeal petition pointing out that the anti-gay law is a colonial relic that even the UK rejected in 1967.

Still, at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, many ministers not only supported Patil but also took exception to Ramadoss’s “uncalled utterances on the issue” which, they said, showed the government in bad light and was causing embarrassment to the ministry of home affairs (read Patil). The Cabinet also decided to continue opposing the demand for it repeal in court. Curiously Ramadoss was not present at the meeting, and the matter was hurriedly discussed without the concerned minister present as is the practice. The Prime Minister, as is his wont, failed to take sides and asked the ministers to sort out their differences through discussions. What a joke.

Nonetheless, Patil continues to tilt at windmills. And if proof is needed that a moron is in charge of the criminal justice system, go no further. Opposing a PIL in The Delhi High Court which seeks the repeal of the archaic Victorian law that still adorns our statute books, additional solicitor general PP Malhotra actually quoted the Bible – presumably the King James’ version – to buttress the government’s against “unnatural sex.” Patil clearly does not know of India’s rich homosexual tradition, both in the mythologies and in secular history that he has to tell his lawyer to take recourse to the Bible, of all things. 

Asking the court to disregard Ramadoss’s views on legalising gay sex among consenting adults, the advocate general said Section 377 was “the will of the people.” Even the normally status-quoist judiciary was dumbfounded. “These are not scientific reports. These are articles quoting the Bible, which is propaganda. Show us scientific reports which justify criminalisation of  such acts (gay sex),” the bench observed.

Commenting on the ongoing courtroom battle, my friend gay activist Ashok Row Kavi wryly observed, “These gandus don’t know their ass from their elbow.”

Roger And Out

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