Section 377 has granted us freedom to love. But have we received freedom from our judgemental society?

6 September 2018. I distinctly remember sitting in the metro and constantly refreshing my google feed to present something meaningful and knowledgeable instead of the appalling comments by politicians or crimes. After five failed attempts, something struck my eyes and made it the best thing I heard in months – ‘Supreme Court rules gay sex is not a crime’. That day and some more passing weeks showed the contentment on people’s faces, the coming-out stories and the celebration of love in every possible manner. In a country with a population of more than 130 crores, it was the result of the repetitive efforts made by different NGO’s and individuals which section 377 congregated to come together. Individuals who were forced to marry, individuals who were made to feel different finally felt their screaming voices getting heard.

The law has given us the freedom to love but what about many who are trying hard enough to keep themselves up with the latest technology but still not ready to put efforts for vanishing the stereotypical notions engrossed in their mind. What about the individuals who are living in the rural India? The decision of Supreme Court is obviously a glorious one but while reading an article, I realized that most of the individuals who would benefit from it are the upper and middle class society of the cities. The ones in the rural areas do not have access to the environment as compared to the former ones. People who do not act according to the ‘societal norms’ are considered and treated differently. They are pressurized to make decisions which their immediate ones ask them to. The fact that section 377 operated to criminalize and stigmatize people for being themselves isn’t something new. The whole notion of identity is put at a fault. Even after receiving the freedom to love, LGBT+ community is still not accepted by many. The first ones to rebuff the sexuality of an individual are the immediate family members. Individuals are being cut from their families for putting their sexuality in front. One of my friend’s father did not talk to him for months after he came out and it was hard to empathize as I have never been in a similar situation. When asked from a heterosexual being, their sexuality do not go concurrently with their identity but in case of a homosexual being, it is the one of the first things that come in their mind because of all the atrocities they had to face while not being accepted. Sometimes they are forced to get into a heterosexual marriage just like women are, innumerable times or the whole idea of coming out and its conclusion scare them to such an extent that they themselves consider the former option keeping their jolly life aside. There have been numerous cases where individuals are taken to therapy or stupid babas who have the solution to ‘cure’ them. Many in our society believe it to be a disease and are not ready to accept that it is natural and not in the hands of one. There have been numerous cases where individuals resort to suicide as they got discarded by many. If the parents accept their children the way they are, most of the problems would be resolved as they are the most important ones in an individual’s life and their opinion and acceptance matters the most.

The problem arises with the stigma attached. The ignorance towards the LGBT+ community. The education which is not provided in schools regarding sexuality. The role of visual media. The unknowledgeable politicians. One of the important sources which shapes the structure of mindset is media which involves newspapers, journal, magazines, Bollywood, Indian television shows etc. The instant provenance people rely upon is the visual media. Bollywood has the history of creating sexist and homophobic movies and in return, these are the movies which create wonders in the box office. In contrast to these stand some other movies which do not receive any popular recognition but mostly do well on the critics stand such as Fire and Parched. The former created a lot of blunder and gave a spark to brawls and attacks nationwide. Movie theatres were attacked by Bajrang Dal workers and Shiv Sanaiks supported by the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Manohar Joshi stating that the film’s theme was ‘alien’ to our culture. While watching ‘Parched’, I got lost in a thinking as of how the women in the movie were attracted to each other but did not act upon as it fell under the category of non-conformation. On the other hand, the school syllabus does not have a hint regarding homosexuality. Efforts have been made by the Voices asking NCERT to incorporate sections which include sexuality education with special emphasis on sexual choice and diversity.

It is a predominant fact that people in our society need to get away from stereotypical, sexist and homophobic opinions and renew them with what’s acceptable. Each and every human on this planet should have the freedom to be what they are and should not be made feeling dejected about themselves. Hundreds of people participate in pride parades every year making it the most loved and warm celebration. It is a platform of euphoria where people from different backgrounds unite together to support a single cause. At the end, the world needs more love, kindness and warmth.

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