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Encyclopedia > Homosexuality in India

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Homosexuality in India, despite having an ancient history, is still considered a taboo subject, by both Indian civil society and the government of India. Homosexuality is also criminalised, due to provisions against "unnatural sex" and sodomy, under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Many interpretations of Islam, India's second largest religion, vehemenently condemn homosexuality. In recent years, both due to liberal attitudes and the need to control HIV/AIDS, several Non-profit organisations and the planning commission of India have all demanded legalisation or at least de-criminalisation of homosexuality and acceptance, tolerance and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. The Government of India (Hindi: भारत सरकार Bharat Sarkar), officially referred to as the Union Government, and commonly as Central Government, was established by the Constitution of India, and is the governing authority of a federal union of 28 states and 7 union territories, collectively called the Republic of India. ... François Elluin, Sodomites provoking the wrath of God, from Le pot pourri de Loth (1781). ... Indian Penal Code (IPC) provides a penal code for all of India excluding Jammu and Kashmir. ... Islam (Arabic:  ) is a monotheistic religion based upon the teachings of Muhammad, a 7th century Arab religious and political figure. ... A Muslim couple is being wed in India, even as a Hindu man takes his ritual bath in the river. ... Species Human immunodeficiency virus 1 Human immunodeficiency virus 2 Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS, a condition in humans in which the immune system begins to fail, leading to life-threatening opportunistic infections. ... Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS or Aids) is a collection of symptoms and infections resulting from the specific damage to the immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). ... A non-profit organization (often called non-profit org or simply non-profit or not-for-profit) can be seen as an organization that doesnt have a goal to make a profit. ... The Planning Commission is an institution in the Government of India, which formulates Indias Five-Year Plans, among other functions. ... Homosexuality refers to sexual interaction and / or romantic attraction between individuals of the same sex. ... It has been suggested that toleration be merged into this article or section. ... Social equality is a social state of affairs in which certain different people have the same status in a certain respect, minimally at least in voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, and property rights. ... A lesbian is a woman who is romantically and sexually attracted only to other women. ... GAY can mean: Gay, a term referring to homosexual men or women The IATA code for Gaya Airport Category: ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Transgender (IPA: , from trans (Latin) and gender (English) ) is an overarching term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies that diverge from the normative gender role (woman or man) commonly, but not always, assigned at birth, as well as the role traditionally held by society. ...

Contents

History

A monk caresses a layman, from the Temple of Visvanatha, Khajuraho, Central India, 10th century CE.
A monk caresses a layman, from the Temple of Visvanatha, Khajuraho, Central India, 10th century CE.

The Manusmriti, which lists the oldest codes of conduct that were proposed to be followed by a Hindu, do include homosexual practices, but only as something to be regulated. Though homosexuality was considered a part of sexual practices, it was not always well accepted. There were punishments prescribed for homosexual behaviour. For instance, if a mature woman was found having sexual relations with a young woman (virgin), her "head should be shaved immediately or two of her fingers should be cut off, and she should be made to ride on a donkey."[1] However, if two young women (virgins) have sex, each "must be fined two hundred (panas), pay the double of her (nuptial) fee, and receive ten (lashes with a) rod."[2] Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (400x750, 50 KB) Monk gropes layman. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (400x750, 50 KB) Monk gropes layman. ... Sculpture from a temple at Khajuraho Hermit monk performing auparashtika on a princely visitor. ... The Manu Smriti or Laws of Manu, is one of the eighteen Smritis of the Dharma Sastra (or laws of righteous conduct), written c. ...


The punishment for male offenders was less severe: "Causing an injury to a priest, smelling wine or things that are not to be smelled, crookedness, and sexual union with a man are traditionally said to cause loss of caste" [3] "A twice-born man who commits an unnatural offence with a male, or has intercourse with a female in a cart drawn by oxen, in water, or in the day-time, shall bathe, dressed in his clothes."[4] Other sexual crimes were punished at least as severely: "A man who has committed a bestial crime, or an unnatural crime with a female, or has had intercourse in water, or with a menstruating woman, shall perform a Samtapana Krikkhra." [5] This meant he would have to drink a mixture of "the urine of cows, cowdung, milk, sour milk, clarified butter, and a decoction of Kusa-grass, and fast during one (day and) night". [6] Caste systems are traditional, hereditary systems of social stratification, enforced by law or common practice, based on classifications such as occupation, race, ethnicity, etc. ...


The skewed treatment may have been due to gender bias, considering that the Manusmriti is the same scripture that has stated that the status of woman in the society is the same (or even lower than) that of a man’s land, his cattle and other possessions.[7]

Cover of Same-Sex Love in India : Readings from Literature and History
Cover of Same-Sex Love in India : Readings from Literature and History

The Rig Veda, sculptures and vestiges depict sexual acts between women as revelations of a feminine world where sexuality was based on pleasure and fertility. In the Kama Sutra sex acts involving homosexuality are permitted in some castes but not in others.[citation needed] The recent book "Same-Sex Love in India : Readings from Literature and History" by Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai analyses the history of homosexual behaviour in India, drawing from Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and modern fictional traditions.[8] In the preface to the book, Ruth Vanita says that the book 'traces the history of ideas in Indian writing traditions about love between women and love between men who are not biologically related.' The book has an impressive collection of stories from the Mahabharata, Panchatantra, Kamasutra, Shiv Purana, Krittivasa Ramayana, Skanda Purana, Amir Khusro, Baburnama, and a variety of modern Indian material. Image File history File links SamesexIndia. ... Image File history File links SamesexIndia. ... The Rig Veda ऋग्वेद (Sanskrit ṛc praise + veda knowledge) is the earliest of the four Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas. ... Modern translated version of the original Sanskrit. ... Ruth Vanita (1955-) is an Indian academic, activist and author who specializes in queer and gay studies. ... Salim Kidwai is an activist and scholar of queer and gay studies in India. ...


Legal status

Homosexual relations are technically still a crime in India under an old British era statute dating from 1860 called Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises 'carnal intercourse against the order of nature.' Since this is deliberately vague in the past it has been used against oral sex (heterosexual and homosexual), sodomy, bestiality, etc. The punishment ranges from ten years to lifelong imprisonment. British India (otherwise known as The British Raj) was a historical period during which most of the Indian subcontinent, or present-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, were under the colonial authority of the British Empire (Undivided India). ... Indian Penal Code (IPC) provides a penal code for all of India excluding Jammu and Kashmir. ... Look up Bestiality in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


The relevant section reads:

Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Enforcement of the law and Rights Violations

Convictions are extremely rare, and in the last twenty years there have been no convictions for homosexual relations in India. However, Human Rights Watch argue that the law has been used to harass HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, as well as sex workers, men who have sex with men, and other groups at risk of the disease.[9] The group documents arrests in Lucknow of 4 men in 2006 and another 4 in 2001. The People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Bangalore Chapter, has published two reports of the rights violations faced by sexual minorities and, in particular, transexuals (hijras and kothis) in India. Human Rights Watch Banner Human Rights Watch is a United States-based international non-government organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. ... Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS or Aids) is a collection of symptoms and infections resulting from the specific damage to the immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). ... A sex worker in Germany A sex worker is a person who earns money by providing sexual services. ... Some or all of this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... Lucknow   (Hindi: लखनऊ, Urdu: لكهنو, ) is the capital city of the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. ...


Demands for law reform

In 2003, the Delhi High Court refused to consider a petition regarding the legality of the law, saying that the petitioners, a sexual health NGO called the Naz Foundation had no locus standi in the matter. Since nobody has been prosecuted in the recent past under this section it would perhaps seem unlikely that the section will be struck down as illegal by the Delhi High Court in the absence of a petitioner with standing. However, this does not rule out the possibility of some other High Court ruling on this section or even the Supreme Court in a "Public Interest Litigation" (PIL). Naz Foundation won its appeal in the Supreme Court against the decision of the High Court to dismiss the petition on technical grounds. The Supreme Court decided that Naz Foundation had the standing to file a PIL in this case and sent the case back to the Delhi High Court to reconsider on its merits.[10] The Delhi High Court has been reconsidering the petition. There has been a significant intervention in the case by a Delhi-based group supporting gay rights, women's rights and child rights, called 'Voices Against 377'. Voices has supported the demand to 'read down' section 377 to exclude adult consensual sex from within its purview. The High Court of Delhi was established on October 31, 1966. ... In law, standing or locus standi is the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged. ... The Supreme Court of India is the highest court of the land as established by Part V, Chapter IV of the Constitution of India. ... Public interest litigation means litigation for the protection of public interest. ...


Recent government and police spokespersons have said that there is a movement to read down consensual homosexual intercourse from coming under the purview of this act. A police spokesperson has said that this section is now only applied in cases involving rape, paedophilia and bestiality.[citation needed] Further, if applied for homosexual intercourse in theory it cannot be applied against the passive, penetrated partner but only against the active, penetrating partner. However, the government has not made any official statements in this regard and continues to insist that homosexuality is illegal in India and against 'Indian culture', even if in practice it does not prosecute these cases. Pedophilia (American English), pædophilia/paedophilia (Commonwealth English), or pedosexuality is the paraphilia of being sexually attracted primarily or exclusively to prepubescent children. ...


The law continues to be on the books. It is used by some to threaten and blackmail homosexuals. It has been used in the past to harass people involved in condom distribution amongst homosexuals. It is also used by the police when registering complaints lodged by the parents of the parties involved. For instance, a lesbian couple that ran away together in Uttar Pradesh, India were arrested and handed back to their parents, in spite of both parties being of legal age by applying this section as the legal basis for their arrest. Uttar Pradesh (Hindi: , Urdu: ‎, translation: Northern Province, IPA: ,  ), also popularly known by its abbreviation U.P., is the most populous and fifth largest state in the Republic of India. ...


There is increasing demand from activists to decriminalise homosexual relationships. An impressive collection of academic articles and personal stories celebrating diverse sexuality is Because I have a Voice: Queer Politics in India, edited by Arvind Narrain and Gautam Bhan.[11] The book documents current struggles at the personal and political levels.


In September 2006, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and acclaimed writer Vikram Seth came together with scores of other prominent Indians in public life to publicly demand this change in the legal regime.[12] The open letter demands that 'In the name of humanity and of our Constitution, this cruel and discriminatory law should be struck down.'


Recognition of same-sex couples

There is no legal recognition of same-sex couples under Indian law. During a recent visit to India by the Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was asked by a journalist what he thought of the new law allowing gay marriage in Canada. His reply was that "there would not be much appreciation for a law like that in India," and he went on to talk about how they were culturally very different societies. The Prime Minister of Canada (French: Premier ministre du Canada), is the head of the Government of Canada. ... Paul Edgar Philippe Martin (born August 28, 1938) was the 21st Prime Minister of Canada and a former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. ... The Prime Minister of India is, in practice, the most powerful person in the government of India. ... Dr. Manmohan Singh (Punjabi: , Hindi: , translation: Charming Lion) is the 17th and current Prime Minister of India. ...


The supreme Sikh religious body, the Akal Takht, has issued an edict condemning gay marriage and has Sikhs living in Canada not to support or allow gay marriages in gurudwaras. In 2005, two unnamed women in Hyderabad asked the Darul Qaza, an Islamic court, for a fatwa allowing them to marry, but permission was denied with a rebuke from the chief qazi. None of the principal Christian denominations in India allow same-sex marriage. A Sikh (IPA: or ; Punjabi: , , IPA: ) is an adherent to Sikhism. ... The Akal Takht (Punjabi: , ) is the second holiest shrine of the Sikhs. ... Same-sex marriage is marriage between individuals who are of the same legal or biological sex. ... A Gurdwara is the Sikh place of worship. ... Hyderabad or Haydarābād (Telugu: హైదరాబాదు Urdu: حیدر آباد ) is the capital city of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. ... Islam (Arabic:  ) is a monotheistic religion based upon the teachings of Muhammad, a 7th century Arab religious and political figure. ... A fatwa (Arabic: ‎; plural fatāwa), is a legal pronouncement in Islam made by a mufti, a scholar capable of issuing judgments on Sharia (Islamic law). ... The introduction of this article does not provide enough context for readers unfamiliar with the subject. ... Christianity is a monotheistic[1] religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. ...


There have been a few cases of gay and lesbian marriages being conducted in India by Hindu priests as far back as 1993.[citation needed] However, these marriages have no legal recognition under Indian law, and often meet with societal disapproval.


Gay marriage is not a debated issue in India, a country where homosexuality is still technically illegal. Except for a few sporadic incidents, homosexuality or same-sex marriages are almost never discussed in public though the situation has changed significantly.


Gay life in the country

There is a vibrant, if largely underground gay nightlife in cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Bangalore, including discos and nightclubs. The police used to harass homosexuals in the past but things have changed dramatically in the last six years. The situation in smaller cities is more complicated, while there are no gay discos or parties, there are however cruising areas in all major cities. These cruising places are still occasionally monitored by the police, especially in North India but the biggest threat seems to come from blackmailers and hustlers. “Bombay” redirects here. ... Delhi   (Hindi: , Urdu: ‎, Punjabi: ) is the second-largest metropolis in India after Mumbai with a population of 13 million. ... Hyderabad or Haydarābād (Telugu: హైదరాబాదు Urdu: حیدر آباد ) is the capital city of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. ... Bangalore (proposed to be renamed Bengalooru or Bengaluru) (Kannada: ; pronunciation: in Kannada and in English) is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. ... Dark green region marks the approximate extent of northern India while the regions marked as light green lies within the sphere of north Indian influence. ...


The Internet has created a prolific gay cyber culture of sorts, with chatrooms and Gay dating sites such as GayDia.com providing an alternative way for meeting people. Websites like GayBombay offer a safe and convenient environment for meeting gays all around India, organizes various events - parties, treks, film festivals, cooking meetings etc.There is a lot of social tolerance of gays in cities while in rural areas relationships among men are accepted but kept under wraps.


Political parties

None of the major Indian political parties have endorsed gay rights concerns into their official party manifesto or platform. Likewise most of the minor political parties either ignore the issue or view homosexuality as something that was imposed upon India by western imperialism. However, one of the Politbureau members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Brinda Karat, did write an open letter in 2003 to the then Minister of Law and Justice, Arun Jaitley, demanding a repeal of section 377, IPC.[13] The gay rights movement is a collection of loosely aligned civil rights groups, human rights groups, support groups and political activists seeking acceptance, tolerance and equality for non-heterosexual, (homosexual, bisexual), and transgender people - despite the fact that it is typically referred to as the gay rights movement, members also...


References

  1. ^ Manu Smriti chapter 8, verse 370. text online.
  2. ^ Manu Smriti chapter 8, verse 369. text online.
  3. ^ Manu Smriti chapter 11, verse 68. Text online.
  4. ^ Manu Smriti chapter 11, verse 175. Text online.
  5. ^ Manu Smriti chapter 11, verse 174. Text online.
  6. ^ Manu Smriti chapter 11, verse 213. Text online.
  7. ^ http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/3-17-2004-51794.asp
  8. ^ Same-Sex Love in India, Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai eds., Delhi: MacMillan, 2000.
  9. ^ India: Repeal Colonial-Era Sodomy Law, report from Human Rights Watch, January 11, 2006.
  10. ^ Gay Rights is matter of Public Interest: SC
  11. ^ Because I have a Voice: Queer Politics in India, Arvind Narrain and Gautam Bhan eds., New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2005.
  12. ^ The Guardian, 'India's Literary Elite Call for Anti-Gay Law to be Scrapped'
  13. ^ See Siddharth Narrain, 'A battle for sexual rights'.

The Manusmriti (Sanskrit मनुस्मृति), translated Laws of Manu is regarded as an important work of Hindu law and ancient Indian society. ... The Manusmriti (Sanskrit मनुस्मृति), translated Laws of Manu is regarded as an important work of Hindu law and ancient Indian society. ... The Manusmriti (Sanskrit मनुस्मृति), translated Laws of Manu is regarded as an important work of Hindu law and ancient Indian society. ... The Manusmriti (Sanskrit मनुस्मृति), translated Laws of Manu is regarded as an important work of Hindu law and ancient Indian society. ... The Manusmriti (Sanskrit मनुस्मृति), translated Laws of Manu is regarded as an important work of Hindu law and ancient Indian society. ... The Manusmriti (Sanskrit मनुस्मृति), translated Laws of Manu is regarded as an important work of Hindu law and ancient Indian society. ... Human Rights Watch Banner Human Rights Watch is a United States-based international non-government organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. ...

See also

Hindu views of homosexuality are diverse, as Hinduism is a heterogeneous religion with no central doctrinal authority. ... The situation of human rights in India is a complex one, as a result of the countrys large size and tremendous diversity, its status as a developing country, and its history as a former colonial territory. ... Ashok Row Kavi was born in Mumbai on June 1, 1947 as a premature child. ... Parvez Sharma is a gay Muslim film director born and raised in India. ...

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