Home bias + Gay pride October 2, 2008Posted by nitinkarani in English, Indian Express, Section 377.
Oct 02, 2008
In reports emerging of the reactions of the judges of the Delhi High
Court who are hearing the government’s arguments against the
legalisation of homosexuality, the outrage and confusion that they
clearly feel at the illiberal and contradictory stand that the
additional solicitor-general has taken on behalf of the Government
come through quite clearly. The court’s incredulity is something that
is, needless to say, shared by all of liberal India, as the government
has in succession said that homosexuality “disturbs the public peace”,
impacts health adversely for homosexuals, impacts health adversely for
non-homosexuals, that it would “open the floodgates for delinquent
behaviour”, that it is a “social vice” and a “reflection of a perverse
mind”. This cavalcade of antediluvian attitudes and half-formed
misinformation is supposed to serve as justification for keeping an
unknown but large number of otherwise law-abiding citizens of India in
a state of permanent criminality.
Let us be clear on this: as the court implied, in asking for empirical
evidence, there is absolutely no data that can back up the
government’s claims. Indeed, in Brazil, for example, increased public
and administrative acceptance of homosexuality in an otherwise macho
culture was one prong of a multi-pronged effort to contain the spread
of AIDS. Some years later, the number of HIV/AIDS patients was barely
half the figure that had been predicted by the World Bank. Compare
that to famously homophobic Jamaica, where efforts to stem the HIV
epidemic have stumbled on the fact that no homosexuals come forward to
be treated, according to its own health ministry. India’s health
minister, Anbumani Ramadoss, has repeatedly said that it is his
ministry’s position that criminalisation of homosexuality impedes
anti-HIV work. He is to be lauded for this. What is even more
laudable, and impressive, is that he has chosen to publicly take on
the home minister on the subject, not only as a doctor and health
practitioner but as a liberal, demanding that Patil be “more
progressive” and “a lot more sensitive”, while pointing out that
acceptance of alternate sexualities has grown “the world over”.
Fortunately, this is a question of rights — fundamental rights in the
Constitution clearly prohibit sex-based discrimination — and the
domain of the courts. But whatever the decision, it is also a question
of basic dignity, and the government has already failed miserably in
ensuring that one of India’s minorities is provided the minimum
respect that any liberal…
Gay Pride: laws and outlaws
Posted: Oct 02, 2008 at 2333 hrs IST
UNITED KINGDOM: Considered one of the most liberal societies in the world when it comes to laws regarding homosexuality, the UK has certainly come a long way from the Buggery Act, 1533, of Henry VIII, whereby the act was an offence punishable by hanging. Homosexuality among consenting adults was decriminalised in 1967, with conditions. Numerous amendments later, the age of consent was brought down to 16 in 2000. The Civil Partnership Act of 2005 further created a parallel legal structure to marriage, which endowed on homosexual couples all the rights and responsibilities of marriage, including the right to adopt children.
UNITED STATES: The laws are different at the state and federal level. Civil unions are permitted in Vermont, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Connecticut while same sex marriages are recognised in New York, New Mexico and Rhode Island. The Supreme Court ruling in the 2003 Lawrence vs Texas case was a landmark judgment in the context of gay rights, with the majority holding that intimate consensual sexual conduct was part of the liberty protected under the Fourteenth Amendment.
DENMARK: Homosexuality legalised since 1933, with the equal age of consent set at 15 years in 1979. In 1989, it became the first country to legalise same-sex unions, also giving couples the right to adoption. Besides, Denmark prohibits any law or behaviour that discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.
FRANCE: Considered tolerant in matters of private morality, incidents of homosexuals being burnt to death last occurred in France in 1750. Homosexuality is not a crime; the Civil Solidarity Pact enacted in 1999 affords legal protection and the rights of marriage to same-sex couples as also unmarried opposite-sex couples. Also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
SOUTH AFRICA: One of the first countries in the world to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, it also became in 2006 the first African nation and the fifth in the world to legalise same-sex marriages. Its equal age of consent is set at 16 years.
INDONESIA: Considered one of the most tolerant among Muslim nations, a homosexual relationship between consenting adults and behind closed doors is not a crime. Same-sex marriages or civil unions are, nevertheless, not recognised by law.
CHINA: Homosexuality was de-criminalised in 1997, with the age of consent fixed at 18 years. But same-sex marriages are still forbidden.
SAUDI ARABIA: Does not recognise the right to privacy nor does it prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Homosexuality remains a crime of serious nature, and an indecent act under the Sunni Islamic notion of morality. Acts of homosexuality or cross-dressing can invite heavy punishment, extensive imprisonment along with severe lashing.
MALAYSIA: Homosexuality is a criminal offence, punishable under law, with imprisonment up to 20 years, fine and whippings. Heterosexual sodomy and cross-dressing are also treated as crimes. Politician Anwar Ibrahim, also the country’s former deputy prime minister, has been arrested twice and imprisoned for up to nine years on charges of having sexual relations with his male aides.