PERKS OF BELONGING TO THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY

-MADHUSHREE PAUL

PERKS OF BELONGING TO THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY

What is LGBTQ? Well, if referred to the literal meaning, LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer people. But what does it really stands for? LGBTQ is a community that breaks the stereotypical mentality of our society, which was defined as an “unnatural being”, something that contradicts nature’s course merely because it is something that the society cannot accept. The current article gives a sarcastic view of perks of belonging to the LGBTQ community. This community of very, very normal people have been fighting for their rights since the time when the Indian Penal Code came into force in 1860 under the British rule. The British Government even went as far as stating that the third gender was a “criminal tribe” that targeted caste groups as being hereditary criminals. But let’s face it: “The British had the sense to make homosexuality legal in 1967 in England and Whales. But for some strange reason, we are holding on to it.”- Arnab Goswami. The article goes through the perks of belonging to the LGBTQ community.

And we still are. Even after the Supreme Court openly apologized for all the injustices done to the LGBTQ community, somehow our society is feigning indifference and intolerance towards the fact that LGBTQ is a community of normal human beings doing what any normal human being does – Live life.

Let’s go through the “perks” of belonging to LGBTQ community

PERKS OF BELONGING TO THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY

PERKS OF BELONGING TO THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY

PERK NO. 1: THEY ARE DIFFERENT. SUFFERING FROM A DISEASE. UNNATURAL.     

                       SHOULD NOT EXIST.

LGBTQ are considered different because of their sexual orientation. Sexuality is apparently not a huge spectrum and does have boundaries, at least that’s what the majority of our society believes in. How beautifully the society has interpreted one’s sexual orientation and compared it with electrons and protons, how they attract each other, how south pole is attracted to the north pole of a bar magnet, how only a penis and a vagina makes a good pair and for what? To increase population because humankind might still face extinction? For the continuation of one’s lineage? Because possibly God will punish us? Yes, exactly that. FYI there are 7.7 Billion souls living on this earth which is three times the Earth’s sustainable level. 

Transgender or the third genders that includes people who change their sex as well, have their own issues. For a very long time traditional transgender (hijras) have not been accepted in our society. Every time a transgender is born, families give up the baby right away. Why? Because it’s a better option than accepting the child as one’s own and nurturing them with all the love and care they deserve.

The families can’t accept a body that is neither a boy nor a girl. Reasons for these are the age old belief that Hijras are born that way because they are blessed or cursed. The beliefs are mixed all throughout the country. There are around 4.8 million transgender people in India and some states do protect them through housing programmes, offering welfare benefits, pension schemes etc., which though helps them out but does not cover the fact that they are not as socially accepted as they have the right to be.

How are these people suffering from a disease though? Well, a former health minister who served from 2009 to 2014 named Ghulam Nabi Azad, very profoundly commented on homosexuality stating that “Unfortunately, this disease (homosexuality) where a man has sex with another man, which is found more in the developed countries, has spread in our country as well. Gay sex is completely unnatural and shouldn’t exist.” He made the comment while addressing an AIDS convention in Delhi which was organized by the parliamentarians. Later, the Union Health Minister was found blaming the media for misquoting him and says he did not refer to homosexuality, but only to HIV. He claimed that the media had misinterpreted his comments because he was delivering in both Hindi and English language. Here is what he said exactly :

“Jo, chinta ka vishay hai, badkismati se duniya mein bhi, aur yeh bimari (disease) humare desh mein bhi aa gayi jahan aadmi aadmi ke sath sex karta hai, jo ki bilkul unnatural hai, nahi hona chahiye (should not exist) lekin hai. Humare desh mein bhi uski sankhya achhi khasi hai ki mard mard ke sath sex karta hai, usko dhundhna bada mushkil hai. Kyuki kaun karta hai, kaha karta hai uska pata nahi chalta hai.”

Apologies for misunderstanding you Sir!

The Indian government has been letting the LGBTQ community down for the reasons of “homophobia”. It’s a spreading disease they say. When Congress MP Shashi Tharoor stood up to bring a bill in the Parliament for discussion, it was no surprise that it would be dismissed. Even though the Congress government was making statements in favour of homosexuality, they weren’t present in full attendance when MP Shahi Tharoor was attacked with homophobic mockery. And BJP has always suffered from homophobia, there is absolutely no point in expecting anything from them.
This is one of the perks of belonging to the LGBTQ community.

PERK NO. 2:  LEGALLY? ACCEPTED. SOCIALLY? NOT YET.

Even though the Supreme Court did struck down some parts of Section 377 in 2018, specifically decriminalizing consensual sex between homosexuals, has homophobia vanished from the minds of this society? Social acceptance means acceptance by the society without any prejudice or discrimination, and the society we are talking about is rooted in indifference towards anything that is different from the natural course or the ordinary course. Although the government is taking steps towards recognition of LGBTQ community, is it really working? Is it really enough? 

“19 year old boy committed suicide in Chennai after he was ridiculed for being homosexual”

 “Not my fault I was born gay: 19-year-old commits suicide over homophobia – Everyone knows I am a boy. But the way I walk, think and talk is like a girl. People in India do not like that.

This is already disturbing, because the boy really, only states that he walks and talks like a girl. Does not really prove that he is gay. For all we know, he might have been rummaging through confusion, struggling to get his bearings right. If we follow biology, his estrogen and progesterone level could have been higher than his testosterone level. This phenomenon happens in woman as well where the testosterone level is higher than the estrogen and progesterone level, the socially accepted term is “tom boy”, where a girl just tends to walk and talk like a boy. Still does not prove that all “tom boys” are lesbians. But obviously even after such overflowing attendance in biology classes, people (surprisingly even youngsters) still believe diversity is limited.

There is not enough awareness as to who are gays and lesbians or the concept of homosexuality and bisexuality. Who knows? It could be a contagious disease, just touch a lesbian or a gay and one will magically (with rainbows and unicorns flying around) will transform! No? Maybe the very famous “Gay gene” has been working its wonders. Oh, wait! “Gay gene” doesn’t exist anymore? Researchers claim so? That’s unfair! How would the society understand homosexuality, bisexuality or queers then? 

Well, how about sexual orientation? Individuals liking men (gays), woman (lesbians) or both (bisexuals) or no one at all and very amazingly, just being asexual?

The previous Governments have definitely been inclined towards recognizing the third gender. In 2005 due to increase in demand, Indian passport application forms were updated with three gender options: Male, Female and Eunuch. For further recognition, in November 2009, the Government agreed to enlist third gender or eunuchs as “Other” distinguishing them from males and females for identity proofs and voter ID requirements. Is that helping either? Workplace discrimination laws and maternity benefits laws fail to account for LGBTQ+ persons.

Even though there is a mixed reaction from IT sectors, some HR Policies in some companies being inclusive and others exclusive, the judicial system is also doing very little in protecting the LGBTQ community from possible harassments. For instance The Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013, only considers a female as a victims, ignoring LGBTQ and heterosexual Men altogether. It’s a shame how this act was furbished in the 21st Century, after 66 years of independence and yet the main concept running through the MP’s and MLA’s minds was not “Gender neutrality”. 

PERKS OF BELONGING TO THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY

PERK NO. 3:  PASSIONATE ABOUT JOINING THE ARMED FORCES? KINDLY LOOK 

                        ELSEWHERE.

So, the verdict, as of now, for all the citizens who are passionate about joining the armed forces but unfortunately also belong to this so called “unnatural” community, better not waste their time into preparing themselves for these exams, because whether they’ll be accepted into serving their own country or not, it will be based on their sexual orientation. Yes, their sexual orientation. It will solely decide whether their national duty as Indian citizens should be by serving in the armed forces or not.

Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has ruled out inclusion of gay soldiers in military, stating Indian Army is not “westernized”, rather it is “conservative”. The Armed Forces decides to cut short LGBTQ, specifically gays from serving in the Indian Armed forces, why? Because apparently, it will amount to “unbecoming conduct”.

The three defense services – the army, navy and the air force bar homosexuality, not explicitely though.

Section 45 of the Army Act , 1950 states that “Any Officer, junior commissioned officer or warrant officer who behaves in a manner unbecoming his position and the character expected of him shall, on conviction by court-martial, if he is an officer, be liable to be cashiered or to suffer such less punishment as is in this Act mentioned; and, if he is a junior commissioned officer, or a warrant officer, be liable to be dismissed or to suffer such less punishment as is in this Act mentioned. – Chief General Bipin Rawat declared “The army is conservative. We will not let this perpetrate in the army.

We will still be dealing with them under various sections of the Army Act”.  Now Section 45 is pretty loose and flexible and does not really points towards a specific offence, rather only states the whole concept of unbecoming, not fitting or appropriate; unseemly. The main question that’s bothersome is that unseemly behavior could be projected by both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Seems only homosexuals are being targeted here. Reason being: The Army is conservative. Understood. But not modernized? The question about human rights is being upheld and the only answer to that is as apparent as being Not Modernized.

Well, if one would just go through the history of India would very clearly see through to the bottom and know that India as a country has always had LGBTQ dipped into its cultural folds. Believe it or not. The ministers of our country definitely do not believe it, as if the explicit and erotic pictures and various sculptures depicting homosexuality, bisexuality, even sodomy in Hindu temples aren’t proof enough. 

Imagine a child, born and brought up in an army background, has always dreamt about joining the Armed Forces, about serving their country, hits puberty and very naturally starts realizing he or she is homosexual. Should the child leave his or her dream and ambition to join the Indian Armed Forces? 

The Armed Forces is not a place of employment or acquiring a job. It is about passion and it takes guts to really imagine oneself in that place and feel glorious and magnificent about it. To let go of most of the luxuries of life that civilians’ enjoy day in day out. To go through the training every single day, which, to civilians’ will amount to nothing but torture.

Is it fair to make a child decide, to force a child into a position where he is torn between accepting himself as he is and his aspiration to serve his country? The 5 day psychological test of SSB specifically asks the candidates to show their true self. No place for pretending. Be what you are and you will get through. But if you are homosexual or bisexual, they ask you to look elsewhere because Army is conservative and is not modernized.

Dump that dream down the gutter!

PERKS OF BELONGING TO THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY

PERK NO. 4: COUPLES CANNOT ADOPT. THAT’S THE WAY IT IS.

After a year of legalizing consensual sex between homosexuals and bisexuals, LGBTQ people are being recognized as normal human beings in a very slow pace, but the change is happening. The change is almost negligible, but definitely happening. LGBTQ people still face issues like employment discrimination and right to own or inherit property. There is still no specific law mentioning marriage between tran – persons. But don’t worry change is happening. Just sit tight and wait for the change to happen.

The most hilarious of these is that Homosexual couples cannot apply for adoption either. Under the Family laws, the only legitimate and ground-holding form of expressing emotional and financial dependency is Marriage. To be precise, marriage between heterosexual people. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1956 still makes an exception here and lets unmarried woman adopt children. The laws does not even allow widower men to apply for adoption, let alone single heterosexual men. And so far as talking about homosexual couples, well, it’s still a long way from acceptance.

The first openly married gay couple in Kerala Nikesh Usha Pushkaran and Sonu MS have been fighting for the rights to adopt.  The couple feels that decriminalization of homosexuality is a milestone in India’s history, which it is. Except, it is not enough. 

Hopefully, it won’t be long before there are bills passed stating specifically about marriage of same-sex people, and their right to adoption. Their right to protection against discrimination at work place, protection against peer pressure. Right to serve their country as they want and not torn between choosing themselves and their ambitions.

Hopefully there will be a time when the society believes more in LGBTQ people for who they are and not how they must change to fit in. Because why is fitting so important? Fitting in to maintain the stereotypes and taboos of our society. Why? India is known for its culmination of diverse cultures and beliefs. Why not let it flourish in that very sense. Every human deserves the right to feel normal, like anybody and everybody else residing in this country, where people will only turn around to take a look and notice anything at all, but not someone’s unbecoming, unnatural demeanor. Hopefully change will take place. And hopefully it’s not a fool’s hope. 

PERKS OF BELONGING TO THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY.

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