In spite of being a sensitive issue, discussions regarding gender and sexuality are heating up all over the country. With a large number of students being a part of the varsity, sharing different backgrounds and cultures, it is a great platform to openly garner different stances. As a step forward in the view of gender sensitization,  The Gender Studies Group, Delhi University has launched four FAQ booklets on the topics – The Body, Sexual Minorities, Sexual Harassment as well as Accommodation in and around the University.

With the recently launched booklets, the Group aims to connect students to the knowledge on these issues. Often not openly discussed, students remain indifferent to the subjects of harassment, abuse and bullying. The booklets provide useful information about the rights of the students and social conditions prevalent in the university. It aims to incorporate students and make them heralds of social awareness and change.

For instance, the booklet titled “Body”, talks about the definition of gender, which includes transgender, consent in a sexual relationship, basic anatomy of the male and female reproductive organs and the misconceptions attached. It also talks about health, hygiene, contraception and date rape. “Accommodation” is another booklet that comprises of restrictive rules and regulations in hostels, especially for women and also cautions them about the forms of harassment that they might encounter. The booklet on “Sexual Minorities” deals with the LGBTQIA – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexuals, Trans, Queer, Intersex and Asexual — and explains each term. It also embraces the issue of homosexuality and common questions arising in its context as to why, how and if it’s wrong.

Excessively it acquaints students as to how to collectively oppose and protest moral policing, harassment, gender biased rules and violence in the university. These booklets rationally question the myths and taboos concerning gender, sexuality and accommodation. The Group’s efforts are delegated towards guiding students in the right direction and analyse such issues with a coherent and open mind.

The booklets are available at a few places in the University including the Delhi School of Economics. Soon these will be distributed in other places too.

Tanya Agarwal

[email protected]

On Tuesday, 28th January, the Women’s Development Cell of Lady Shri Ram College for Women organized a talk by Dr. Ashley Tellis, a renowned professor and LGBTQIA activist who spoke about how Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code affects women. An extremely controversial and contested section, the recent upholding of 377 by the Supreme Court has been challenged and attacked massively by the LGBTQIA community.

Dr. Tellis held the attention of almost 50 students of the college by handing out two questionnaires at the outset, the first about how one is constructed as a woman which entailed questions of pain, shame, menstruation and violence that being a woman in a patriarchal context is part of, and the second was one that posed questions about sexuality (that are most frequently asked to homosexual individuals) to heterosexual people. These questions ranged from when one ‘chose’ to be heterosexual to why heterosexual people try to ‘influence’ others to follow their lifestyles. These exercises brought students to understand social constructs of gender and sexuality more closely, so as to set the discussion on section 377 in context. Dr. Tellis then spoke of how even the reading down of the section in 2009 only extended rights of sexuality to homosexual men of elite classes, almost never mentioning lesbian and other categories of women. He also evoked theoretical concepts of post modern scholars like Foucalt so as to explain his points better.

The enthusiastic group asked Dr. Tellis several questions about how to address concerns of breaking the sexual binary, the way in which femininity is viewed and his own experience of being open about his sexuality in the University set up, making the talk an interactive and informative experience.

On Friday, 9th January, the DU Queer Collective organised a non-violent protest against the upholding of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code outside the Faculty of Arts at the University Campus.  Demands ranged from putting a stop to the increasing number of security and police personnel on campus, to the onslaught of gender studies programmes and graduate and undergraduate levels, especially with the coming of the FYUP. The protest also aimed to voice united concern on issues of discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexuality that exists at various levels of the university.

Section 377, that deems consensual sex between two adults of the same gender as unconstitutional was reinforced and gay sex was criminalised on 11th December, 2013.

Some brilliantly nuanced arguments were made by eminent speakers like Nivedita Menon, Kavita Krishnan and Apoorv Anand as the small, but spirited gathering cheered them on.

Image Credit: Pallab Deb for DU Beat

Those unfounded concerns of homophobes around the country, who suddenly were facing growing discussions on Queer Rights after the SC judgement, finally have an answer. Known for their quirky sense of humour, All India Bakchod (AIB) came out with a new video featuring Imran Khan. Loaded with wit, the video answers concerns ranging from Indian culture to how gays drink coffee. Yes, the very same AIB that had previously made rounds around social media with bangs of sarcasm to advocate the reasons why women get raped.

Bani adds: One major element of the video is the message stated clearly at the end – ignorance is a choice. A choice many Indians make everyday – a choice our highest judicial body made some time back.

The recent Supreme Court judgement turned millions of Indians into criminals, something which took the Queer rights movement in the country 377 years backwards. Amongst all the heartbreaks and outrage, social media also teemed with an unprecedented number of non-queer allies voicing their disgust at their compatriots being stripped of their dignity.

When in 2009, the landmark Delhi High Court judgement gave the non-straight part of the population the legal protection to love who they wanted to love, the halls of social media were still not ringing with as much support from those who did not directly benefit from the ruling. But this time round, tragedy did what triumph of reasoning and Human Rights could not do and the queer community gained more visible and vocal support from its straight allies. This video is not the only example. A married, heterosexual man started the Gay For A Day campaign, which even though was criticised by a few commentators, showed just how much support the queer rights movement has garnered throughout the years. Another example of how much has changed was the number of politicians coming out in opposing to the upholding of Article 377.

If sexuality were celebrated, and people were free to choose their partners from whichever sex – gender roles would diminish. The concern over who will make the sandwiches and who will earn the bread would be nobody’s business. If sexuality was celebrated, comprehensive sexuality education would be the norm – children would be given the space to discover who they really are and teachers would be comfortable using words like ‘masturbation’ in biology classes.

If sexuality were celebrated, same sex couples would be choosing to marry (or not marry) on their own terms and families and friends would love them for it. If sexuality were celebrated, government forms wouldn’t ask us to choose between ‘male’ and ‘female’. If sexuality is celebrated, more and more famous people would speak about their own. If sexuality is celebrated, section 377 wouldn’t exist.

If sexuality were celebrated, marital rape would be punishable and recognized in a court of law. A woman wouldn’t be the property of her husband. Heck, she may never have a husband! If sexuality were celebrated, self proclaimed God men who see homosexuality as a disease would be hiding their faces and publicly apologizing to all of us. If sexuality were celebrated, honour killings wouldn’t happen – marriage would be a personal choice which we would all be free to take as and when we wish. If sexuality were celebrated, the Supreme Court of India would first look into the several pending cases of sexual assault and discrimination (many of which are against Judges, lawyers, police and government officials) before even thinking of attending to an appeal as regressive as de-legalizing ‘gay sex’.

If sexuality were celebrated, one’s homosexuality wouldn’t be one’s primary identity – a ‘gay’ doctor, a ‘gay’ lawyer, a ‘gay’ artist would simply be a doctor, a lawyer, an artist. If sexuality were celebrated, many of us wouldn’t be criminals in our own country today. If sexuality were celebrated, desire and passion would be good things, and people wouldn’t be made alien to their own bodies. If sexuality were celebrated, the word ‘gay’ wouldn’t be used as an insult, or to refer to effeminate behaviour by men (as if being feminine is an insult in itself!)

But then again, sexuality is more tabooed than celebrated and we still live entrenched in a patriarchy that separates us from ourselves and where every desire is colonized and repressed. Not only does the Indian state today control our food, water and electricity, but who we’re having sex with and what ‘legal sex’ is. Sex today isn’t simply seen in terms of pleasure – an activity between two consenting adults, but an activity strictly limited to a man and a woman (preferably married), belong to the same religion, caste and class. Anything – absolutely anything – disrupting this is against the law. When I see it this way, the Supreme Court ruling that read own the Delhi High Court judgement that decriminalized homosexuality doesn’t come as much of a shocker.

But the fight for free love and free sexuality continues. Even in dire disappointment, this is an opportunity to press for progressive laws and subsequently, progressive mindsets. This is our opportunity. Don’t lose hope. Keep your faith, continue your fight.

Image credits: Pallab Deb

The sixth Delhi Queer Pride 2013 was conducted on Sunday, 24th November 2013 at 3pm. People assembled at the Corner of Barakhamba Road and Tolstoy Marg basking in the glory of the rainbow colors! With shouts of “Hum Anek Hai” and “One India”, people joined in to celebrate the diversity within the gender spectrum fighting for the cause of gender equality.

Here are a few pictures that demonstrates in city in spirit of the rainbow colours!