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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Paradigm Shifts Gay Rights: Happy and Gay days ahead…

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The Delhi High Court’s revision of Section 377 was one of the strongest portents of progressive India. Deepak Kashyap, Masters in Psychology from Bristol University and practicing counselor for homosexuals in Mumbai, explains how the law has helped to make the world a better place to live in.

Being a psychologist by profession, I’ve seen how the new ruling changed the lives of homosexuals. Now, many gays come out and seek help. Previously, there weren’t very many who would do so despite facing various forms of hostility. Besides, we as counselors or psychologists could not reach out to them either, because the law did not permit us to do so. So, the High Court’s decision has unquestionably been beneficial to this community.

On the question whether or not the law has helped change the mindset of people, I would say not, since I have been involved with gay rights for years, and I still don’t see much change there. However, this is not to deny the fact that our society is beginning to accept homosexuals. Taking my personal experience into account, I had always been open about the fact that I’m gay; years ago, gays were only seen as fancy items where people would give us that unusual stare, but now I see that it’s much more easy and comfortable to be a part of this society. I’d also add that it takes a long, long while for an existing culture to change. Complete acceptance of homosexuality would require a culture change, which will take time.

The level of acceptance also varies from city to city. For example, in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Pune etc people are a lot more open minded and have a higher level of acceptance. The other cities would take roughly 10-15 more years to accept the law and accept homosexuals as normal beings.

On the future of gay rights, the legal issues are still pending at the Supreme Court. I wouldn’t be able to tell exactly why it’s taking so long, but here are some leads. The last time this case was brought forth, there were 16 organisations challenging the High Court’s decision. And out of those sixteen, 99 per cent were religious organisations. It’s very strange actually; before the government came in, there was religion owning our bodies and before that there were the kings owning our bodies. The question is whether my body belongs to the state, to the religious heads or to myself. My body belongs to me and I have the right to express my bodily desires the way I want to unless I’m hurting someone. I’m pretty sure that the Supreme Court will decide in favour of legalising homosexuality. We have a constitution which guarantees dignity to every citizen and the same must be our right too. There will very soon be a time when homosexuals will stay comfortably along with everyone in the society, not only in some cities but in all parts of our country.

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