Be inclusive, even if laws are not

Even as the gay community, supporters, human rights campaigners express disappointment at India’s top court which upheld a ruling criminalising gay sex, plans are on for a roadmap for the future.

What happens next is the inevitable question that becomes part of a larger debate that the judgement has triggered. How does the layperson and society at large now react to the judgement? While the legal aspect is one thing, one hopes at least that corporates, individuals and other public and private organisations keep stressing on anti-discriminatory laws and practices at the workplace.

The movement had a boost especially when the High Court had read down Section 377, with an uptick in awareness and a concerted effort not to discriminate against the community. This should continue, and one wishes to see individuals trying in their own way to break stereotypes and spread more positive messages about the community.

While some Bollywood movies continued to hammer home the frayed stereotype of the limp-wristed male gay character or the ‘maa’ who is so afraid her son may be gay, we also see a smattering of more sensitive movies. The enlightened filmmaker and his or her celluloid offerings must continue viewing the community through this new, more sensitive prism.

Supporters had been heartened that there was more visibility via the medium, if this continues and there is correct portrayal instead of caricaturing as some filmmakers are doing, it can only mean bringing the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community more mainstream.

While laws are vital for society, that is why one sees a campaign in the West, where gay persons are fighting for the right to marry, attitudes too play a huge role in how the community is perceived and treated. The LGBT strata in this country has often stated that even if laws change, and the homophobia may not express itself overtly, they may still face prejudice and hatredin covert ways.

Everybody may not have the power or the wherewithal to change legislation. Let individuals then exercise power the way they can — bring LGBT in the mainstream, oppose discriminatory practices and be inclusive, so that minds and hearts are open and accepting, even if the laws are not.  

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