Celebrations are still underway in Germany after the country legalised same-sex marriage. Rainbow-hued reports everywhere stated how the German Parliament passed the legislation only a couple of days after Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would allow politicians to follow their own conscience, rather than toe the party line on the subject.
On Saturday, this paper ran a report in which the city’s gay community was cheering the “fall of the conservative Berlin wall”, if we may say so. But that brings us to the question, when will India open up to same-sex marriage? Perhaps it’s laughable to speculate on this subject as our country is still fighting to remove Section 377 from the IPC.
Section 377, introduced by the British in our country in the pre-Independence era, criminalises sexual activities “against the order of nature”, arguably including sexual activity between homosexuals.
The Section was decriminalised with respect to sex between consenting adults by the Delhi High Court in July 2009. But the Supreme Court overturned that judgment in December 2013, ruling that an amendment to or repealing Section 377 should be left to Parliament, not the judiciary.
It’s time the Indian Parliament takes a cue from nations like Germany and ponders upon the need to remain shackled by a British law. This year, Britain celebrates the 50th anniversary of decriminalisation of male homosexual acts in England and Wales. It is a stupendous irony that the country that gave India the draconian Section 377, is now marking five decades of doing away with it.
It would be naïve to think that everything will change if Section 377 is abolished. But revolution begins with baby steps. Let us put Section 377 where it belongs - in history.