By Isha Adhikari-
When one thinks about PRIDE, it paints us the picture of bittersweet reminder of the celebration of freedom, but also the honor of 1969 riots of New York City’s, Stonewall.
As we are slowly but steadily walking towards the acceptance and appreciation of LGBTQ+ community, we are still far from the fair future, but as Taylor Swift said, “The shade never made anybody less gay”. Supporting that, in 2018, in the landmark decision of the Supreme Court of India, read down section 377 of the Indian penal code, decriminalizing homosexuality. Even though this sounds like a big win for the community, according to the opinion poll, one in four Indians still objects to same sex relationship. Why is so? Let’s find out.
PEOPLE JUDING PEOPLE
People when asked in general always relate homosexuality, against of religion. This obviously goes contrary to the various Hindu religious texts, according to which homosexuality is governed as an integral part of the society.
The Naradasmarti and the Sushruta Samhita (extracted from the sculptures at Khajuraho Temple) are renowned as two of the most important Sanskrit texts declaring homosexuality to be unchangeable and talks about human sexual behavior in detail. Further, they were put together by Devdutt Pattnayak as the place of homosexuality in Hindu literature, which was not tauted to be the part of the main stream, but its existence was acknowledged, however not approved in all instances.
Pride, the word itself, has a very simple and forward meaning. It preaches about self acceptance and being comfortable with yourselves more than it tells about how you accept others.
There is no doubt or denying that the opinions of public regarding LGBTQ+ rights in India are intricate and vary all through the country.
A 2016 poll by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association showcased that around the Indian society, 35% of the Indian people were in favor of legalizing same-sex marriages while others comprising of a total of 35% opposed this belief.
A survey by the Varkey Foundation found that support for same-sex marriages was higher among 18-21 year olds with a percentage of 53% in totality.
There is a huge belief that supports the idea of younger generation being more accepting when it comes to the queer rights, there could be various reasons that could fuel this theory. Following are some of the factors proving the claim:
A. Social media: Impact of social media in day to day life is no hidden secret from the world. Media now days can be compared to the Pandora’s Box, it brings everything you are interested in onto the table in front of you and this has helped excessively in improving the awareness while combating the myths around the LGBTQ+ community.
I, personally, am one of the examples of the many youngsters out there, who had to educate themselves about many things that are considered a taboo in Indian society, including queer part of our society and social media has provided tremendous aid in doing so.
B. Education, paved a vital role in normalizing LGBTQ+ community although it is crystal clear that students in underprivileged regions are still not that largely informed about the queer part of the society.
According to a 2017 poll, carried out by ILGA, following detailed data was ruled out wherein:
58% of Indians agreed that gay, lesbian and bisexual people should enjoy the same rights as straight people, while 30% disagreed. Additionally 59% agreed that they should be protected from workplace discrimination. 39% of Indians, however, said that people who are in same-sex relationships should be charged as criminals, while a plurality of 44% disagreed. As for transgenders, 66% agreed that they should have the same rights, 62% believed they should be protected from employment discrimination and 60% believed they should be allowed to change their legal gender.
Moreover, the acceptance toward LGBTQ+ is reportedly termed to be far higher in top government institutes, such as IITs than other institutions.
In addition, according to a poll conducted at IIT Delhi in 2015, 72% of respondents agreed that “being homosexual is normal as being a heterosexual.” Many IITs have their own LGBTQ+ clubs, namely “Saathi” (meaning “Friend”) at IIT Bombay, “Indradhanu” at IIT Delhi, “Ambar” at Kharagpur, “Unmukt” at IIT Kanpur, “Anchor” at BITS Pilani and more.
When talking about the shift in mindset that’s arriving evidently throughout the country, the 2020 Pew Research showed data with 57% of the Indians agreeing to the claims that “Homosexuality should be accepted by the society.”
This turned out to be a massive increase from 15% in 2014, while another survey in 2019 revealed that over 69% of Indians want same-sex marriages to be legalized.
HOMOSEXUALITY AND YOUTH
With the numerous amounts of polls conducted by various organizations, all over the world, there is no denying the fact that the young generation of the world is in today’s language “most woke.”
While this is extremely an uplifting fact, there prevails few incidents that could make all this a moot point.
Like the youth of other countries supporting LGBTQ movement, India’s youth is no different but the numbers of the allies waving the rainbow flag is still disappointingly low in our country.
By the study conducted by YouGov-mint millennial survey in 2019, only an average of 50% of the Indian Youth are actually supportive of queer society that too only in one of the major cities of Delhi NCR and Mumbai.
The concept of Bullying and Cyber Trolling in the various social media and physical platforms is outrageous among the youth and this can lead to severe threats, boycotting, bullying and repercussions for the person coming out of the closet as well as can be detrimental to the entire community.
It might seem like a hard pill to swallow but apparently people seem to think that they have the rights to decide who other people can love and believe that they can somehow reverse homosexuality, which brings the conversion therapy into the light.
“Reparative” or “conversion” therapy is a dangerous practice that targets LGBTQ+ youth and seeks to change their sexual or gender identities according to the conventional sexual or gender norms set up and accepted easily by the society.
However, it is clearly evident that conversion therapy does not work and is not at all morally ethical on the grounds of Human Rights as they can be harmful to the entire LGBTQ+ community and treacherous for the person going through it.
There is ample evidence that societal prejudice, bigotry adding up more societal beliefs to this myth revolving around conversion therapy, causes significant medical, psychological and other harms to the society at large. There is a huge ruse against reparative therapy and it has also been illegalized, in order to protect youth from this harmful practice.
Some right-wing religious groups promote the concept that an individual can change their sexual orientation or gender identity, either through prayer or other religious efforts, or through “reparative” or “conversion” therapy.
The research conducted on such efforts has disproven their efficacy, and also has indicated that they are affirmatively harmful. Beyond medical or psychological studies focused solely on reparative therapy, broader research clearly demonstrates the significant harm that societal prejudice and family rejection has on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community, particularly youth.
To conclude we have come a long way past the Stonewall Riots, but there still prevails the existence of many more Stonewalls ahead of us in the future. There is a very belief in the core of human beings that we will persevere and transcend through this like the “Rainbow” out of the dark cloud.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_India https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_and_the_LGBT_community YouGov-Mint Millennial survey (January 2019) https://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy https://www.yld.io/blog/pride-month-inclusion-and-diversity-at-work/