India has once again voted against the rights of the LGBTQ community. And this time it has done so on a global level. India was amongst the 13 countries that voted against the passing of a UNHCR resolution that denounced death penalty for homosexuality. In simple words, if death penalty is awarded to a person for being a homosexual, India will have no problem with it.
Out of the 47 members, 27 voted in favour of the resolution, 13 voted against it and seven members abstained from voting for it. And India, of course, was one of the 13 countries. The other countries that voted against the resolution were US, UAE, Bangladesh, Botswana, Burundi, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Japan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The countries that voted for it include, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, Togo, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Albania, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Slovenia, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Panama, Paraguay, Venezuela, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and the UK.
Even as the UN Human Rights Council has denounced death penalty, India stands as one of the regressive countries that continue to look down upon same-sex couples and relationships. Indicating once again that the community has a long way to go before the much promised ‘right to privacy’ will be granted to them. The fight against section 377 of the IPC (the Victorian law that criminalises same-sex relationships) got a boost in September 2017, when a bench of the SC upheld the right to privacy as a fundamental right, giving hope to the LGBTQ community. But that hope was snatched away soon after, when India stood against their right to live in UNHCR.
With the UNHRC’s new resolution in mind, we asked the common man what they thought about it. But instead of getting answers for or against the resolution, we were faced with people who were scared to even acknowledge that homosexual or queer people exist! Nobody wanted to be associated with the word 'gay', nobody wanted to talk about sexuality or even acknowledge that those people live amidst them. Homosexuality, sex and sexuality are topics that are looked at with remorse in the country.
Renowned Bollywood director Karan Johar’s book An Unsuitable Boy had everyone hoping that the director would finally come out of the closet. The director however said everything and abstained from uttering the 'three words'. He said, "Everybody knows what my sexual orientation is. I don't need to scream it out. If I need to spell it out, I won't, only because I live in a country where I could possibly be jailed for saying this."
Now we know why he feels threatened to express himself clearly, why he refuses to utter those ‘three words- it's because we don't let him. Despite the numerous pride parades, despite the right to privacy and the right to live that have been upheld by the courts. No matter how much we want to repeal the archaic law that criminalises the community, we have a long long way to go before the common man first recognises their existence, accepts them and lastly respect and protect their rights.