No ‘Unnatural’ Sex Please, We Are Indians!
Times, September 11, 2003
Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi—Sexually adventurous
Indians may be unwittingly committing several crimes in the bedroom, including
some punishable with life imprisonment.
If the Government has its way, homosexuality, oral sex
and anal sex, which are increasingly an accepted form of sexual behaviour in
many parts of the world, will not be legalised in India just yet.
The Government’s contention in a court that
homosexuality should not be legalised as it was not accepted by Indian society
has outraged not only the gay community but many who believe the state should
keep out of the bedroom.
The Government was responding this week to a petition
questioning Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that deems “voluntary
sex against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal” a criminal
offence to be punished with imprisonment for life or up to 10 years.
“We expected nothing better from this Government than
the old bogey of Indian culture and society that is completely divorced from
scientific realities,” Aditya Bandopadhyay, a member of the Lawyers’
Collective HIV/AIDS unit that formulated the petition for the NGO Naz
“How can you criminalise a whole community when it is
scientifically, sociologically, anthropologically and historically accepted
that homosexuality is not a depravity or an aberration?”
The petition, filed in 2001, argued that consenting
homosexual acts should be legalized because the fear of arrest and harassment
from the police had driven gay people underground, hampering the anti-AIDS
Responding after a long time, the Government told the
court that Indian society was “intolerant” towards homosexuality and
repealing the law would “open the floodgates of delinquent behaviour”.
It was argued that this was the only law against child
abuse and male rape.
But Bandopadhyay retorted, “Why not frame separate laws
for child abuse and male rape? Anyhow homosexuals and victims of male rape are
harassed by the police.”
The Section under consideration also bans acts such as
oral sex and anal sex that could be described as “unnatural” since they
were not “penal-vaginal”.
Said Sarah Fernandes, a students’ counsellor, “Is
this a police state? Why should the Government decide how or who do I have sex
Echoing the indignation, bank executive Yogesh Mishra
said the law could not dictate what consenting adults did in their bedrooms.
“People have the right to choose their sexual behaviour.
In a progressive society, such a law is redundant and should be dumped
The petition said the sodomy law was at cross-purposes
with the fundamental right to life and liberty.
“The Government’s view is shocking and effectively
means sex should be only for procreation, not pleasure,” said Lok Prakash,
technical consultant with the Naz Foundation International.
Stating that this attitude was detrimental even to
heterosexuals, Prakash remarked that, legally, even a husband and wife could
not have anything but conventional sex.
This is a strange irony for the land that produced the
most ancient treatise on sex, the Kamasutra of Vatsayana, and the renowned
Khajuraho temples that depict most explicit, and no-holds-barred acts of
Noted sexologist Prakash Kothari refers to instances of
homosexuality, premarital sex and alternative sexual behaviour in Indian
mythology as well as scriptures.
“It is true that many acts are not accepted by society
today, but between mutually consenting adults, oral sex etc are acceptable
sexual behaviour,” he said.
“There is nothing like unnatural sex between
adults—only alternative sex.”
Kothari pointed out that it was better to have
homosexuals satisfying their relationship in their own way than becoming
“Laws are meant for citizens’ comfort and not
discomfort. Under the present scenario, IPC Section 377 needs to be
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