Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

We said, “You Just Ain’t Ready Yet”

Posted by Jerry on July 13, 2006

Democracy can be a very dangerous thing. Indeed, Aristotle described democracy as a “necessary evil,” but an evil nonetheless. A democratic country can be a threat to its own citizens as well as to other nations. Consider the threat of democratic, nuclear-capable Iran; or that of democratically elected Hamas government of Palestine; or even that of the largest democracy in the world–India.

Farah Baria of the Indian Express wrote a brilliantly hard-hitting article on the irrational reasons for India’s homophobia. Consider the following excerpt from her article:

Recently, replying to a petition filed in the Delhi High Court by Naz Foundation, an advocacy, AIDS control and gay outreach organization, the Government claimed that Indian society was ”not ready” for the practice of homosexuality. In fact the 42nd report of the Law Commission opines that society’s disapproval was ”strong enough to justify it being treated as a criminal offence, even when adults indulge in it in private.” The penalty? Imprisonment for ten years or even life.

How ironic that in a country where criminals seem to go scot-free for roasting 14 people alive in a bakery, national leaders are acquitted for abetting the carnage of 3,000 Sikhs, scores are maimed or blinded because they belong to a ”lower” caste, women are wantonly assaulted on city streets, and many, many marriages are alibis for legalized violence and rape, our government wants to ”protect” us from law abiding citizens, whose only ”crime” is their sexual preference! [emphasis mine]

While I don’t agree with everything that Baria argues in the article–for example, her flat assertion that homosexuality is genetic, and that’s a fact; or her Kinseyan hypothesis of Indian sexuality–her article expertly dessimates some of the reasons used to maintain the illegal status of homosexuality in India.

Unfortunately, Baria, like most people, do not realize that it is useless to argue for “gay rights” without first, and most importantly, arguing for individual rights! India’s constitution enshrines democracy as a greater value than individual, human rights. That, translated in practice, means the majority mob gets to decide what the rules of the game are. If the majority Indians are not “comfortable” with legalizing homosexuality, well then the human rights of the homosexual minority can and should be trampled. At some point in the future, if the majority decides that they do not like eating broccoli, they can simply pass a law criminalizing its growth and consumption.

Democracy is the political application of Utilitarianism–irrelevant of all its variations–and they are both equally evil.

And this is why, in my salute to America on its Independence Day, I stated that I admire the philosophy that is at the foundation of American society and government: a constitutional inviolability of individual, human rights. This fundamental fact ensures that violations of individual rights–regardless of the majority opinion–will not become laws. The fact that America is not consistent in its adherence to its own Constitution is a matter aside; it does not invalidate the morality and potency of its Constitution.

[To read Farah Baria’s full article, click below]

The Indian Express
August 26, 2005
                
GAY LIKE US
WHY ARE INDIANS HOMOPHOBIC?
Farah Baria             

That I can’t name him in this piece, is perhaps the ultimate irony. I can’t, not because he gives a fig leaf – he doesn’t – but because the people who care for him do. And so this man I love so well is consigned to anonymity, to living in the shadow of another love that dare not speak its name.

It hasn’t been easy. At barely sixteen, he clipped a silver ring on his left ear, and let the world know exactly who he was – an act of such naked bravery, it was tantamount to social suicide. But hey, better to die than live a lie! It hasn’t been easy enduring those sidelong glances from sniggering colleagues, sidestepping black-mailing policemen, or assuring well meaning relatives that he wasn’t looking for a wife, thank you very much.

Now, twenty years later, the earring is gone, and the flagrant pink shirts have been packed away; age has mellowed the rebel, taught him that while what he does in his bedroom is no secret, it isn’t a public statement either. I once asked him
when he guessed he was gay. ”Oh, before I could recite Georgie Porgie” he said, with characteristic black humor. ”I always knew I was different.”

Last week, at the country’s first official gay rally in Mumbai, a section of his misunderstood species protested that ”different” does not mean ”criminal.” After all, in a world where babies are butchered because they belong to another God, and hatred is the official foreign policy of nations, surely no love between two consenting adults can possibly be a crime?

Yet, almost six decades after India pledged herself to liberty and equality, section 377 of the Indian Penal Code says it can – on the same grounds as child abuse and bestiality. While every other democratic country in the world has legalized homosexuality, our Government, which almost never addresses the issue of public morality – how can it, when corruption is as intrinsic to governance as the so-called ”crime” of sodomy is to gay sex? – seems almost passionate about enforcing its own brand of personal morality on private citizens.

Recently, replying to a petition filed in the Delhi High Court by Naz Foundation, an advocacy, AIDS control and gay outreach organization, the Government claimed that Indian society was ”not ready” for the practice of homosexuality. In
fact the 42nd report of the Law Commission opines that society’s disapproval was ”strong enough to justify it being treated as a criminal offence, even when adults indulge in it in private.” The penalty? Imprisonment for ten years or even life.

How ironic that in a country where criminals seem to go scot-free for roasting 14 people alive in a bakery, national leaders are acquitted for abetting the carnage of 3,000 Sikhs, scores are maimed or blinded because they belong to a ”lower” caste, women are wantonly assaulted on city streets, and many, many marriages are alibis for legalized violence and rape, our government wants to ”protect” us from law abiding
citizens, whose only ”crime” is their sexual preference!

Worse, its absurd contention that legalizing gay sex will encourage paedophilia is like saying heterosexual intercourse encourages rape or incest.

As for society not being ”ready”, 55 years ago, when the Constitution was being framed, were we ready for a ban on sati, equal rights to women, and concessions to backward castes? I think not. The joke is that for all our gratuitous prudery,
Indian society provides the model for Sigmund Freud’s gay archetype. According to Freudian psychology, homosexuality is caused by faulty child rearing, typically an overprotective, fawning mother, and a distant, autocratic father who the male child fails to identify with. But if the Freudian theory was indeed true, nearly all Indian men would be gay!

The scientific truth is that homosexuality is not a social crime; its a genetic fact. In other words, gays are born, not made, and persecuting them for their sexual preference is like persecuting someone for having a weak heart, poor eyesight or a crooked nose. This is hardly a new concept. Way back in 1948, the famous Alfred Kinsey report on human sexuality estimate that about 10 per cent of any given population across the world is homosexual.

Why, then, are Indians so homophobic? One hypothesis is that, as a nation, we are not comfortable with our own heterosexuality. Its a well researched fact that the human sexes are not mutually exclusive, but fall along a continuum;
we all have masculine and feminine hormones, masculine and feminine traits, masculine and feminine orientations, in varying degrees. But try explaining that to our average male chauvinist! Only when Indian men understand, accept and even celebrate their own feminine side, without feeling threatened or insecure, will we be free from sexual fundamentalism.

Moreover we are a nation of moral hypocrites. We ban legal dance bars, while illegal prostitution flourishes. We censor on-screen kissing, but gleefully lap up every smutty detail of our filmstars’ lives. We police what college girls wear to prevent ”indecent exposure”, but can’t seem to get enough of Baywatch.

That’s why when a sizeable gay society wants to come out of the closet and demand its fundamental right to equality Article 14), freedom (Article 19), and personal liberty (Article 21), it has to find a more ”respectable” reason: AIDS prevention and control. A petition filed in the Delhi High Court pleads that if homosexuality is legalized by scrapping Section 377, high risk gays will be encouraged to seek medical intervention, instead of hiding for fear of prosecution. But surely AIDS control is the corollary, not the postulate!

If gay Indians want to be recognized, they need to stop hiding behind the AIDS purdah, and demand to be treated first as sexual minorities, on par with religious and social minorities. If that is against our so-called ”cultural values”, so be it. Or as a gay friend once remembered, ”Feel proud to be a faggot. And leave culture to the bigots.”

2 Responses to “We said, “You Just Ain’t Ready Yet””

  1. Mark said

    “Democracy is the political application of Utilitarianism– irrelevant of all its variations–and they are both equally evil.”

    An excellent statement. It is rare to hear democracy called out in such a fashion, but I expect no less from an Objectivist.

    You are right on in pointing out the supremacy of individual rights. Especially here in the US we are seeing rights fought for and assigned according to one’s group status and thus not respecting the rights inherent in being a sole individual.

    “The fact that America is not consistent in its adherence to its own Constitution is a matter aside; it does not invalidate the morality and potency of its Constitution.”

    Thank you for the reminder. Sometimes one tends to lose focus and get a bit despondent.

  2. Ergo said

    Thanks Mark.

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