Nine days after the Indian Supreme Court’s verdict recriminalizing homosexuality, the Indian Government has submitted a review petition calling for a reconsideration of the ruling. This swift act has caught the LGBTIQ community of India by pleasant surprise, and ensured that the holidays be happy for desi queers folks. After the verdict of December 11 led to outrage in and outside India, there seemed to have been two possible ways to alleviate the plight of the queer community: a) get the parliament to pass a law reinstating the ‘legitimacy’ of queer love, or b) request a review of the Supreme Court decision by the Court itself. Many Indian queer activists favored the latter. To them, such a decision from the highest court of the largest democracy of the world was a blotch, and that the court itself had to clear its own tarnished image. This eventually became the sole possibility after the Hindu nationalist party in opposition began harping the “gays-are-unnatural” tune, as is natural to creatures of their clan.
That a slow-moving inertia-ridden government will take a decisive action within nine days, at a time when it was flipping out over other ‘hard’ issues is a pain-relief to queer Indians all over the world. According to review petition filed, the government contended that the Supreme Court ruling “suffers from errors apparent on the face of the record” and is contrary to “Fundamental Rights under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.” The queer rights-as-human rights argument has been doing wonders for us queers over the past year or so, thanks to the United Nations, which rebuked India after the ruling. This however, is the first time that the ‘rights discourse’ has entered the Indian government’s position on homosexuality, which is making people like me highly hopeful.
Over the past few days, the media in the country had been conducting debates and surveys in favor of queer rights in India. I was particularly touched to learn that high school kids in New Delhi had rallied in favor of the LGBTIQ community. Many heterosexual people came out in support, decrying the Supreme Court ruling (for instance, check out the first 19 seconds of this video). Vikram Seth, one of India’s leading novelist and poet, after publicly criticizing the ruling, wrote this stellar piece in support of love. Seth came out on national television a few years back. What I admire about Seth’s piece is how it brings about the dehumanizing face of not just homophobia but of all kinds of hatred towards love and people in love. Yet, at the same time, he does not trivialize homophobia as one of the many forms of discrimination – the tone is solid, the content delicate. All in all, it has been a string of heart-warming nine days.
Over the past week, my dad forwarded me numerous editorials and columns that were published in newspapers in English and local languages in support of queerness and queer culture. His support was reassuring (see for instance this one in Bengali). With all the animated discussion in the media, my cousin, the other pink sheep in the family, is gradually receiving some warmth of understanding from her mom after over a year of cold neglect.
As 2013 is ending on a hopeful note for Indian queers but on a dark one for those in Uganda, we can only resolve that the struggle is not over – it never is. There is no Queer Spring, as after each ‘spring’ in history the status quo inevitably returns. Challenging heteronormativity – both outside and within ourselves – is a constant and ongoing process. There is only a beginning but there can be no end.
Feature image AFP PHOTO/ PUNIT PARANJPE