Dear judges, I don't want to feel lucky

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 16, 2013 04:47 hrs

Every time I line up to submit a visa application, I thank my stars that I’m not Muslim. Despite being on the default suspect list for illegal immigration, my chances of getting that stamp are a lot easier for not being on the default suspect list for terror.

I hate feeling lucky like that.

The Supreme Court’s verdict, striking down the Delhi High Court’s decriminalisation of Section 377, made me want to thank my stars that I’m not homosexual. That I’m free to fall in love and sleep with someone without being a criminal.

I hate feeling lucky like that.

Having read the entire judgement, I wanted to cry – cry for all my friends who pretend they have girlfriends or speak about “a person” they are dating, hoping their sexual orientation doesn’t “show”; cry for all my friends who, in their teens, had to bite the bullet and tell their parents that, in order to lead honest lives, they would have to disappoint them; cry for all my friends who, braving societal prejudice and the Indian Penal Code, have come out as gay.

My biggest shock came from the fact that the discussion on whether oral and anal sex are “against the order of nature” drew largely from a case that obviously involved rape.

Did the judges really not consider that one can be gay without raping someone else? That everyone who rapes a man isn’t always gay, and tends more often to be a hater?

Leave aside the fact that the judges’ view of oral sex would make practically everyone I know a criminal. There is a more serious question here – who defines “the order of nature”?  How does one react to a view like this?

“It is true that the theory that sexual intercourse is only meant for the purpose of conception is an out-dated theory. But, at the same time it could be said without any hesitation of contradiction that the orifice of mouth is not, according to nature, meant for sexual or carnal intercourse.”

Why not, then, just ban sex altogether? After all, we do have facilities for in-vitro fertilisation. To say that the theory of sex for the sake of procreation
alone is “out-dated” is redundant.

To say it contradicts the assertion.  Because, how is the assignation of various orifices to particular tasks different from the idea that sex is meant only for procreation, and anything that does not aid it is “against the order of nature”? Oh, what would amoral India do without the venerable judges to tell us how to have sex, and with whom?

Even worse is the argument that homosexuals form a “miniscule” part of the country's population and that “less than 200 people” have been charged under Section 377 so far. This, apparently, rules out the notion of discrimination against homosexuals by the authorities.

Isn’t a democracy supposed to guarantee everyone, minority and majority alike, equal rights?

And, if you were talk to the LGBT population, I suspect you would find that, even if “less than 200 people” have been officially charged with crimes, the number of people who are the victims of hate crime (even at the hands of the “authorities”), of teasing in schools, stereotyping in the media, pejorative-based humour on social networks and so on, is far, far, higher.

There is talk that the decriminalisation of gay sex could be facilitated in Parliament. But that isn’t the point here. The point is that our faith in the Judiciary, an institution we once held as incorruptible and ahead of its times, has been shaken.

The buck has been passed on a technicality. Rather than defer the matter to a constitutional Bench, the court has chosen to send it back to the politicians.

By saying what it has said, the judgement has set our country back by centuries. And this comes at a time when most of us thought and hoped that legalisation of same-sex marriage would be the next step. This verdict is akin to shooting down remarriage for divorced and widowed people.

The verdict has struck down several fundamental rights of our citizens – the right to privacy, the right to dignity, and most of all, the right to equality. It has sold out to bigots, some of whom don’t even know their own scriptures properly – for, can we not find instances of homosexual love in the Indian epics?

Perhaps we should be happy that so many of us are so affected by this judgement, and that, irrespective of our own sexual orientations, we feel compelled to join the LGBT section of our population – this “miniscule” section that has essentially been told it doesn’t deserve equal rights.
But, I feel depressed.

Despite the large numbers of people who showed up at the protest at Jantar Mantar, despite all the support on social media, despite the photographs of Indian gay couples kissing openly, all it takes is for a single bench to knock down a hard-fought, hard-won concession.

I feel lucky for being heterosexual. I shouldn’t. One shouldn’t feel lucky or unlucky for being what one is in a democracy.

Read more by the Author:

Tejpal assault: Why the media reaction disgusts me

When the Prince turned King Cong

Rahul as PM? : Five years of stand-up comedy

Rape has no gender

There is no such thing as a ‘brave rape victim’

Nandini is a journalist and humour writer based in Madras. She is the author of Hitched: The Modern Woman and Arranged Marriage. She sells herself and the book on

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