Scrapping of 377


In response to Pride celebrations, a reactionary movement has sprung up to “reclaim” space for the black and white of heterosexuality amid rainbow hues.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender,
Queer+ (LGBTQ+) community has
only recently garnered widespread
acceptance with the advent of increased
representation, favourable leaps in
legislative matters, and a heightening
of social awareness, which were
achieved after arduous struggles by the
marginalised community. The concept
of Pride in queer context implies the
promotion of self-affirmation, equality,
and dignity within individuals with a non-
binary sexual identity, a remembrance of
the bigotry (still) faced by the community,
and a celebration of the strides made.
Pride events like parades, festivals,
marches, and formation of queer
collective aim to normalise homosexuality
in the face of the tyrannising
heteronormative binary. Pride is also
quite a revolutionary concept that has
emboldened a community to embrace
their identity, which, earlier they had
to veil with a monochromatic shroud.
The conspicuous and colourful nature of
these celebrations reflects the collective
coming-out of the long-closeted
community into the mainstream.
Most Pride events happen annually
during June, which has been instated
as “Pride Month” to commemorate the
New York Stonewall Inn Riots of 1969 –
the first robust act of resistance against
a repressive administration. This year
witnessed the 50th anniversary of this
pivotal moment of the gay liberation
movement. Queer representation hit
the peak of main(lame)-stream with the
release of Taylor Swift’s kind of excessive,
kind of stereotypical, yet allegedly well-
intended “gay” music video, You Need to
Calm Down.
In India, on 6th September, the first anniversary of the scrapping of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalised homosexual intercourse, was celebrated with great fervour across the University of Delhi (DU) in various institutions. Kamala Nehru College, in collaboration with Nazariya, a queer, feminist resource group, organised a Pride event in their college. Lady Shri Ram College observed a hearty affair as well, with a queer-themed open mic, and a Pride party, followed by a Pride march organised by the college’s Women’s Development Cell. Throughout the North and the South Campus, a galore of Pride celebrations with a multitude of Pride flags, representing the multitudinous sexuality spectrum were fluttering through, strewn across streets, sewn into outfits, and painted on faces.
However, the ostensible nature of these celebrations, going in full-swing irked the likes of a few. A reactionary movement to reclaim the allegedly tarnished pride of heterosexuals, given the increased homosexual social movement, sprang up. Boston, and Massachusetts observed a Straight Pride Parade on 31st August. The organisers, who hold ties with the extreme-right movement in America, justified the event by accusing the identity politics of the left and calling for greater representation for straight people.

An elementary school in Mumbai, which goes by the name of Sanskriti School, joined in on the fad and insisted upon a Straight Pride Parade. An Instagram handle was made to perpetuate the novel idea but it can no longer be found on Instagram, reportedly owing to the negative feedback it received from the community on Instagram.
The Straight Pride Movement is not an idea in its nascence, and can be traced back to the 1980s, but something is to be said about its fledgling popularity. Even though both the aforementioned efforts were dwarfed by counter-protesters, they still gained traction and were valid enough for a few to latch on to it. This reveals the fragility of a small group of heterosexuals who feel insecure and attacked by the growing acceptance of a long-ostracised community.
Pride is a resistive, cultural movement with a lot of history, gravitas, and significance for the LGBTQ+ community, which is being undermined by such reactionary, shallow ventures. It is rightly said, “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

Feature Image Credits: Akarsh Mathur for DU Beat

Prisha Saxena
[email protected]

On the first anniversary of the scrapping of parts of Section 377, let’s take a look at the life of the members of the LGBTQ+ community post the revolutionary judgement. Have things really changed?

Today marks one year of the 377 judgement, where the supreme court unanimously ruled that consensual same-sex relations were no longer considered ‘against the order of nature’ as the law dictated earlier. The five-judge Constitution bench brought a landmark decision in the history of LGBTQIA+ rights in India. This decision was celebrated by many. Rainbow merchandise and profile pictures flooded the internet. Solidarity came in the form of hushed whispers in the University campus and low squeals of ‘Congratulations’ in-between friends. Solidarity came in the form of comfort that we’re not criminals anymore. The famous slogan used at pride parades and protests, “kaunsa kanoon sabse battar? AFSPA, sedition, teen-sau sathatarr (Which law is the worst? AFSPA, sedition, 377)” was now lost in the pages of history.

A reality check followed immediately after the judgement, it was a small step in a big direction, one that could change the face of queer rights in India, but did it make a difference to the everyday lives of queer-identifying folks?

The lives of people from the community are still subject to scrutiny, harassment, and threats. It is not uncommon to hear about young people from the community being disowned from their families because of their identity. It is not uncommon to hear about employees being fired because of their identity. Queerness comes with an eternal bond to humiliation and loneliness, even national champion Dutee Chand was degraded and shamed after she came out.

The 377 judgement creates the disbelief that people can finally come out of the closet, but in truth, coming out is like stepping out in a minefield.

Queerness comes with tied misogyny and sexism. Queer communities are far from getting away with hierarchies and casual sexism. The 377 judgement tackled consensual same-sex relations but it fails to address the homophobia in the everyday life of the society. From Bollywood tropes and songs to ‘woke liberal spaces’, homophobia still thrives proudly and shows very little signs of fading away. The abolition of section 377 also gave rise to rainbow capitalism. Corporate marketed rainbow-themed merchandise, from t-shirts to underwear, rainbow capitalism gave more leverage to the so-called liberal class for spurring out casual homophobia and queerphobia while masquerading around in rainbow merchandise.

“There is no difference; we now see rainbow merchandise being openly available by big corporate brands. That’s all.” says a student from Ramjas College.

Queer identities are yet to be accepted fully in the public space. In the case of the University of Delhi (DU), National Students’ Union of India’s (NSUI) election manifesto promises reservation in hostels for the LGBTQIA+ community and sessions to sensitise the students and faculty about them. However, the increase of harassment during the DUSU elections makes the University campus another minefield for visibly queer folks.

“My professors are more likely to act like discrimination based on my queerness no longer occurs because the judgement happened. Like section 377 was the only problem we faced and after the judgement, we were alright again.” says a student from National Law University, Delhi. “No, I don’t feel safe in public spaces. I think there’s more backlash because of the 377 judgement.” adds a student from DU. All of this makes one wonder, has the country really progressed since 377 was taken down?

“Not in the slightest, one cannot be persecuted by law but will be persecuted by the public.” says a graduate from Bangalore University. “The only difference I see is that people now know what Section 377 was.” says a student from the Ambedkar University.

India has a long way to go in terms of queer rights and making public spaces queer-friendly. The change does not begin from courtrooms but from small acts of acceptance and inclusivity.

Feature Image Credits: Namrata Randhawa for DU Beat

Jaishree Kumar

[email protected]