Homosexuality in India
Men and men, women and women relationships have existed since the ancient times, as evidenced in sources like the Khajuraho and Konark temple carvings, Urdu love poetry and literary references like Ismat Chughtai’s Lihaaf. Stories of Muslim nawabs and Hindu noblemen with habits such as maintaining a harem full of young boy’s point towards the existence of the notion of same sex relationships. And the fact that India is also the birthplace of the Vatsayan’s Kamasutra, which is hailed as the bible of intimate acts includes a complete chapter referring to homosexuality. Yet with all this history, the Indian society still denies and condemns homosexuality.
The Indian society is steeped in tradition and intimacy of any sort is not approved of unless it is legitimized in the form of marriage where socially approved sexual acts take place. The social order in our society is religious based which views procreation as the most important reason for sexual acts. In such a scenario, any expression of homosexuality is seen as an attempt to renounce tradition and promote individualism, thereby posing a threat to the order in Indian society. Though homosexuality is not accepted in the Indian society, with the growing trend of liberalization more and more gay people are coming out in the open. In the metro cities of India, like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, one can notice a mushrooming underground gay nightlife. A number of discotheques, bars and clubs in these cities, have one or two nights which are reserved for gays and lesbians only.
Gay people in India are using the Internet to organize social events in safe places and keep each other informed. But the country’s young gay movement faces many barriers: homosexuality remains illegal, and people with AIDS are stigmatized. Things are, however, beginning to change in India today. Gay groups have mushroomed in the last decade, some in previously un-thinkable places like Lucknow and Bijapur, with several of them bringing out their own newsletters and magazines. Indian newspapers, mostly English dailies, are devoting more space to gay issues than ten years ago, and in certain circles it is quite acceptable to be openly gay. India has now become the 127th country to decriminalize homosexuality, proving that the night is finally over.