India Insight

Will India accept gay couples?

“Freaking unbelievable. Absolutely speechless!”
Gay rights activists in India have been posting congratulatory messages on blogs and Twitter ever since the Delhi High Court on Thursday ruled gay sex was not a crime.
human rights.

Some see the ruling as crucial for the country’s battle against HIV/AIDS.

India has the world’s second highest HIV/AIDS caseload and gay advocacy groups say fear of persecution by law enforcement agencies often leaves homosexuals without easy access to health information and preventive care, rendering them more vulnerable to infection.

The gay sex debate and repealing of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that makes “unnatural sex” a punishable offence will have wide- ranging implications in the months to come.

But it’s difficult to predict whether conservative Indians would change their perception of the gay community.

India has traditionally been a study in curious contradictions that are deeply interwoven in its social fabric through centuries. If it is embracing and tolerant of alien customs, it is also proud and conservative of its own.

An evil “disease”? Gay activists fight govt. in High Court

On June 29 of this year, hundreds of gays, lesbians and transsexuals danced and sang on the streets of three Indian cities, hoisting the rainbow flag on the country’s first nationally coordinated gay pride day.

gay1.jpgThough they waved slogans such as “gay and loving it”, many still wore masks – afraid to openly campaign against the dreaded Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which has banned “unnatural” sex since colonial times.

So where do the protesters find themselves nearly four months later, as gay activists battle a (divided) government to scrap the law, taking the case to the Delhi High Court?