India Decriminalized Homosexuality But Its Moral Acceptability Will Take Longer
In a landmark judgement this Thursday, the Supreme Court of India legalized homosexuality in India by invalidating part of section 377 of Indian Penal Code. It was 1861 when British Raj had criminalised anal sex and oral sex for both heterosexuals and homosexuals under section 377 IPC making voluntary "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" an offence. This law continued even after India attained its independence.
So being openly gay or lesbian was criticised in Indian culture as something non-Indian and part of Western culture. Even parents didn't accept their ward's homosexuality giving the excuse of its illegality. But the judgement delivered by Supreme Court the day before has changed all these.
A new cultural shift seems to be on the cards for Indians now. Now LGBTQ community can openly come out in our society without any fear of harassment by authorities. However legal victory doesn't mean outright social acceptance.
Recently Indian Catholic bishops' conference has described the Supreme Court's decision as morally unacceptable. According to them, same-sex acts violate the purpose of human sexuality, which is procreation. "What is legal is not equal to moral acceptability," said a statement issued by Father Stephen Fernandes, secretary to the Indian bishops' office for justice, peace and development. Similar reactions were observed earlier against the court's verdict about legalisation of euthanasia. Larger section of society takes a long time to get used to any progressive change.
Court agreed that majority view cannot override the rights of a minority. I sincerely hope that same arguments will one day be considered for legalisation of the rights of animals too. Let's be ready for the changing society and wider acceptance of individual rights.