Guest Post by Jordan Osserman
Amidst the outcry of queer rage and mourning against the Supreme Court judgment has emerged a strand of skepticism (For examples See here , here and here) from within queer circles, directed at the participants in the anti-377 campaign. These skeptics allege that the 377 organizers failed to adequately consider the impact of their activism on the most marginal queers in India (lower class/caste hijras, kothis, MSM, etc.). In the most biting version of the critique, the 377 campaign is portrayed as an elite middle class movement, fueled by foreign-funded NGOs, against a largely symbolic, immaterial enemy. 377, these critics allege, was never a central cause of LGBT oppression; a paper tiger, relatively unknown by police and Indian society writ large until middle-class queers arbitrarily put it on the agenda and invested it with symbolic meaning. To the extent that marginal sexual minorities have been represented at all, their voices have been appropriated in the service of a campaign at best irrelevant, and at worst dangerous, to their lives.
In this post, I’d like to challenge some of these claims. We can summarize the critics’ arguments as follows: 1. Section 377 has not historically targeted LGBT people, and rarely affected the lives of sexual minorities prior to the activist mobilization against it. 2. Instead of fighting 377, activists should have prioritized campaigns which would concretely benefit LGBT people, particularly the most marginalized. Alternately, if the 377 campaign had to go forward, the legal strategy and organizing should have been more inclusive. 3. The “liberal outrage” against 377 may be as much to blame for violence justified in the name of the law as the Supreme Court’s decision. For, now that queer activists and the Indian media have popularized the notion that the Supreme Court has “re-criminalized homosexuality,” homophobes have become aware of a new weapon with which to target sexual minorities. I will attempt to address these interlinked arguments in their respective order, before drawing some final conclusions about activism and organizing.
Continue reading Naz and its detractors: A response by Jordan Osserman
SIDDHARTH NARRAIN based on his legal and extra legal expertise arrives at the conclusion that size does matter
A LETTER TO YOUR LORDSHIPS
Your Lordships have called us, LGBT Indians, a “miniscule minority”. Never mind that statistically we constitute at least four per cent of the population, which are over four million people. Your Lordships say that there are only 200 persons impacted by section 377 over the last 150 years. Never mind that there are millions of LGBT persons who have been under the shadow of this law over the last 150 years, discriminated against, blackmailed, harassed, outed to their families, driven to suicide, forcibly married, diagnosed as mentally ill, raped, assaulted, and disinherited.
Your Lordships say we are a “miniscule minority”. Since you are so fond of dictionaries, lets flip one open.
Miniscule: The adjective miniscule is etymologically related to minus, but associations with mini have produced the spelling variant miniscule. Continue reading Size does matter your lordships – A letter to the Supreme Court: Siddharth Narrain
No Going Back
The Supreme Court’s decision in Suresh Kumar Kaushal v Naz Foundation has re-criminalized millions of LGBT persons, putting their lives at risk and subjecting them to the threat of violence, harassment and arrest. Despite this loss in court, we should not see this as a defeat. It is not a defeat because the mood of the country has changed, rising up in anger against prejudice masquerading as law. The public backlash against this decision has caught even LGBT activists by surprise. It is not a defeat because finally voices from the political establishment of this country have come out in support of LGBT rights. The top leadership of the Congress party, Cabinet Ministers, and spokespersons across the political spectrum have spoken out against the judgment. The BJP’s official stance supporting 377 appears out of step with reality, and there is a section of the party that does not support this view.
It is not a defeat because parents of LGBT persons have rallied around their children in this hour of crisis. It is not a defeat because friends, colleagues, students, teachers, and classmates have been shaken up by the injustice of this moment. The outrage and anger, the public show of solidarity and small gestures of support, has been overwhelming. The 377 judgment is not a defeat because commentators across the political spectrum have criticised the logic of the judgment. It is not a defeat because the legal community including the Advocate General of this country has questioned the rationale of this decision. Described as a judgment devoid of humanity and compassion, the Supreme Court’s decision has prompted many comparisons – A.D.M. Jabalpur, A.K. Gopalan, Mathura, Gian Kaur, Dred Scott, Plessy, and Bowers. It is not a defeat because this judgment has spawned a new generation of activism.
The Supreme Court’s decision has emboldened the human rights movement in this country, brought together diverse groups on a common platform. The Delhi High Court’s 2009 judgment affirmed the constitutional rights of millions of Indian citizens. The Supreme Court verdict has reversed this, but it can never erase that moment of freedom from our past. The mood of this country has changed. Public discourse has changed. People have changed. The law must change. There is no going back.
In cities across the world, people are mobilizing protests against the judgment. Join the Global Day of Rage on Sunday, 15th December.
MAYUR SURESH finds the Supreme Court guilty of contempt (of citizens)
Contempt: – The word ‘contempt’ comes from the Latin word “contemptus” and much like its modern counterpart, is the feeling that a person or a thing is worthless or deserving scorn.
Contempt is a feeling that is often felt by Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in India. It’s been meted out to LGBT people equally by the British who aimed to civilise us, and those today who seek to ‘preserve our culture’. An 1838 report on the Draft Penal Code called homosexual acts a “revolting subject” and said that the “frequency” of homosexuality in India “remained a stain on this land.” In 1934, the High Court of Sindh called a man who had consensual sex with another man “a despicable specimen of humanity”. Not to be left behind, those appellants who approached the Supreme Court reserved the choicest of contemptuous words for LGBT people in India: “disgusting”, “filthy”, “delinquents”.
Continue reading Contempt of Citizens: Mayur Suresh
A post on the cowardly judgment of the Supreme Court by DANISH SHEIKH. I term it a cowardly decision because if it had said that we are homophobic then it would at least have been admirable for its honesty if not for its belief. It instead chooses to mask its homophobia with crimes of unreason
Now you’re legal – Now you’re not!
With the ease of a particularly sadistic magic trick, a 98 page document has sent millions of LGBT individuals time-warping back into pre-2009 criminality. If there were any constitutional justifications for this act, they are not to be found lurking in the pages of this shockingly poorly reasoned decision. The Supreme Court has taken a chainsaw to one of the most beloved court decisions of our time, and surgically extracted everything that made it such an important verdict. Besides, of course, that little side business of equal-moral-citizenship granting. A broader walkthrough the shoddiness of the judgment can be found here, (http://kafila.org/2013/12/12/we-dissent-siddharth-narrain/) I’m presently looking at some of the more egregious of its violations. Continue reading Crimes of Unreason: Danish Sheikh
A preliminary walk through the unreason of the Supreme Court in the 377 judgment by SIDDHARTH NARRAIN
We hope to see many more pieces which exposes the judgment for what it is- an example of judicial non application of mind. I have also written a short piece looking at the judgment in the context of the Mandela moment
The Supreme Court’s decision in Suresh Kumar Kaushal & Another v. Naz Foundation & Others is an unprecedented ruling, deciding to turn the clock back to pre-July 2009, when LGBT persons were criminalized by section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. On close reading, the judgment is based on a narrow and blindfolded interpretation of the law, ignoring the momentous changes in society and notions of morality that India is witnessing. Further, the judgment, in many parts, relies on shaky precedent, does not explain the logic of its conclusions, and is surprisingly dismissive of substantial evidence that was placed before it. Continue reading We Dissent: Siddharth Narrain