Homosexuality can be described as the attraction or sexual relations between members of the same sex. At times, even the sexual orientation of such people is called ‘homosexuality’ only and they, themselves, are known as ‘homosexuals’. Though in the western countries homosexuality is not a big issue, it is still considered as a taboo in India. The society, the law as well as the government of the country have failed to recognize it as a normal phenomenon and even today, open discussion on such a topic is a big no-no.
Section 377 of the IPC states that ‘Whosoever has carnal intercourse voluntarily against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall be liable to fine’. With the adoption of the law in 1860, by the British Government, homosexuality became illegal in India. The punishment for engaging in homosexual relation can go up to lifelong imprisonment. As far as the enforcement of the homosexuality laws in India is concerned, the country has hardly noticed any convictions in the last 20 years.
Life in India
Though homosexuality is not accepted in the Indian society, it is nonetheless coming more and more to fore, especially with the liberalization of the society. In the metro cities of India, like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, one can notice a mushrooming underground gay nightlife. A number of discotheques, bars and clubs have opened up in these cities, in which one or two nights are reserved for gays and lesbians only. Infact, Time Out (a fortnightly magazine in Delhi) has a separate column, in which the gay events happening in the city are covered.
However, as we delve deeper into India - to the smaller cities and towns, the situation is very bad. In the absence of any hangout places like bars and pubs, homosexuals find it difficult to come out the closet and accept themselves the way they are. Either they keep the truth within themselves on their own or they family forces them to de so. Sometimes, they even marry individuals of the opposite sex out of family pressure. The result is nothing but, a frustrated life for themselves as well as their partners.
The internet boom currently being experienced in India has come to the rescue of homosexuals. Today, one can see mushrooming of the social network sites that have special communities dedicated to gays and lesbians. Apart from that, numerous gay dating and lesbian dating portals have been launched. With this homosexuals have started shedding their inhibitions, since they can always make use of the anonymity that internet provides. At the same time, they can also find like-minded people from the comfort of their homes.
Though Indian community has not accepted homosexuality till date, it has been gaining recognition gradually. One of the main contributors to this increasing recognition is Bollywood. Even the media is not too far in trying to get homosexuals their due. Non Government Organizations (NGOs), National Aids Control Organization (NACO), Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, Law Commission of India and Planning Commission of India have demanded legalization or at least de-criminalization of homosexuality, in view of the need to control HIV/AIDS. Whether they get successful or not is left to be seen.