Most of us are aware of Outrageous Section 377 of Indian Penal Code as a law criminalizing homosexuality. But there is so much more to it that you don’t even know and I promise you that by the end of this article you’ll be baffled to know that you’ve been engaging in criminal activities!
Let’s start with a quick history lesson. Our IPC (Indian Penal Code) was made by Britishers long back in 1860 when India was their colony. So that’s how old section 377 is; more than one and a half centuries old.
Basically, this section says that any voluntary act of sexual intercourse against the order of nature is an unnatural offense, and these acts are punishable by life imprisonment or imprisonment up to 10 years, with or without fine. The most important words here are “against the order of nature”. Homosexuality is considered to be against the order of nature, but following is a lot more which come under the same category. Broadly, there are four kinds of unnatural offenses in India.
Let’s start with something which most of us would agree upon:
Bestiality: It is the act of sexual intercourse by a human being with lower beings, aka animals. I know it’s gross and cruel, but sadly it’s practiced by many people, and I’m so thankful that it is covered under the section 377, even though there aren’t many rules & regulations for the safety of animals in India. So this is totally acceptable as an ‘unnatural offense’.
Moving on to the next kind, i.e. Sodomy– It is the act of voluntary anal intercourse between two males or a male or female. This is where I start to find this section impractical, and here’s why; how can any voluntary act between consenting adults be “unnatural” be it sodomy or any other thing, as long as it’s harmless to anyone involved. I don’t see any reason for it being ‘against the order of nature’.
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Moving on to the next kind, the most shocking one, Buccal coitus i.e Oral sex. Yes you read that correctly, it is ‘against the order of nature’ and you’re a criminal! And I am not even kidding. My rant will start again here, how can something which is so common, harmless, and done between consenting adults be “unnatural and punishable”. This is truly baffling and disconcerting.
Lastly, the most disapproved but vastly protested for offense, Homosexuality.
A lot has been said for and against it and I won’t go into that; though truly, I support the LGBT community and want them to get the same rights as the rest of us. But what I’d like to bring to attention is that tribadism aka lesbianism is not punishable in India! Good thing for the ladies, but again how bemusing is this. Such is the Outrageous Section 377.
After reading all this, wouldn’t you all agree with me that there’s a need for this section to be modified in respect of the present Indian society? Instead of making voluntary and consensual sexual acts punishable, we should be moving towards equality among all, regardless of sexual orientation and gender. But sadly, the current scenario is such that India abstained from voting at UN Human Rights Council regarding the LGBT issues and Baba Ramdev claims that yoga can ‘cure’ homosexuality. Whereas, the original makers of section 377 have decriminalized homosexuality in their country, and have legalized same sex marriage, giving equal rights to all.
I hope the day comes soon when Supreme Court of India amends section 377 in a way that helps usher India to an equal and fair future.
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