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Zee News – Taboo relationships May 4, 2005

Posted by qmediawatch in Sexuality & Gender, Television.
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Zee News – Taboo Relationship

DATE : 2/5/2003
Correspondent: Renuka Garkkal
Adaptation by: Jigme Palden Pazo
Programme: Special Correspondent
Telecast: Saturday 9:30 pm
Repeat telecast: Thursday 4:30 pm

Long repressed in the West, the third gender of sexuality seems to finally be coming into its own in the Western world. But what about the scenario in India, where factually speaking the very act of sexual intercourse between two members of the same sex is against the law? Zee News Mumbai Correspondent Renuka Garkkal set out to shed light into the shadows of this forbidden world and came up with some eye-opening findings.

To begin with, India’s colourful history is rife with examples of homosexuality in different forms. Probably the best known are the erotic sculptures adorning the celebrated temple architecture of Khajuraho, where one can find couples of the same sex entwined in ecstacy alongside the regular couplings of members of the opposite sex.

Among the earliest examples, there is a reference in the great Indian epic, Mahabharata when Arjun one of the five Pandava brothers chose to conceal his identity in the guise of a `kinnar`. When the five brothers were sent into exile, they had to go into hiding for a period of one year, assuming identities of ordinary mortals. While the others opted for professions like cook, advisor to the King and cowherds, Arjun became a dance teacher, for which he assumed the identity of a eunuch. This is one of the earliest known records in Indian history that illustrates a clear-cut case of a transvestite tendency.

In South India, one of the most popular deities Lord Ayappa was said to be born from the union of Shiva and Vishnu. The story goes that a demon called Bhasmasur won a favour from Shiva through prayers. Shiva granted him a boon by which whatever he touched with the palm of his hand would burn and be reduced to ashes. Bhasmasur turned the tables on Shiva as he wanted his wife Parvati for himself. In his desire for Parvati the demon set off to destroy Shiva with the same power he had blessed him with.

Meanwhile, Parvati turned to Vishnu to intervene for the sake of Shiva. Vishnu assumed the form of a beautiful dancer named Mohini, who captivated Bhasmasur with her seductive perormance. Mohini urged the demon to emulate her dance movements until she placed her hand on her head. When the latter copied the movement, the power of his hand destroyed him for good.

A peculiar problem arose when it became clear that Shiva himself had been bewitched by Mohini’s beauty. This led to a liaison between Shiva and Mohini, which produced the birth of a child, who went on to become Ayappa.

Coming closer to the present day, the law that outlaws sex between two members of the same gender came not from religious fanatics of any kind, but surprisingly, the British during the days of their rule in India. It was then that a series of laws deemed fit by the British rulers for India were drafted in the Indian Constitution. Among them was the one banning homosexuality in any form as a criminal activity.

Therefore, it is a great irony that at a time when the West has begun to come to terms with this controversial lifestyle, India is still governed by laws made by Westerners in a different age altogether. As more and more Western nations legalise gay unions, with the US recently overturning the law against sodomy, India lags far behind in terms of tolerance of sex between two males or two females.

Therefore, it is a great irony that at a time when the West has begun to come to terms with this controversial lifestyle, India is still governed by laws made by Westerners in a different age altogether. As more and more Western nations legalise gay unions, with the US recently overturning the law against sodomy, India lags far behind in terms of tolerance of sex between two males or two females.

In today’s urban India, cases of homosexuality have an undeniable presence. However for a vast majority of them, secrecy is not just preferable but necessary. Keeping sexual activity of this nature under wraps has led to the serious threat of AIDS and STDs in the population. Harassment by the authorities is also commonplace for those indulging in the outlawed encounters.

However, a glimmer of hope lines the horizon. Two organisations have already been set up in the country for the cause of homosexuals with Humsafar for the males and Aanchal for females, also referred to as lesbians. Though they face an uphill task in changing the mindset of the nation to this controversial subject, the first few steps have been taken in what is destined to be a long-drawn battle for acceptance.

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