Newsclick interviewed Himadri Roy, LGBT rights activist and Professor in Gender Studies at IGNOU on the US Supreme Court judgement that allowed same sex marriage. Himadri says that the judgement got highlighted in media only because of the economic hegemony of the US and its investment in the NGOs running LGBT movement. He points out that it is necessary for both, the government and the society, to make efforts to bring people from LGBT community into mainstream. He attacks the statements made by Senior BJP leaders in India who called homosexuality a disease. He also spoke against the current India regime's orthodox nature in terms of sexual orientation of individuals. Simultaneously, he talks about the loop holes in Indian constitution which allow marital rape.
Pranjal: Hello and welcome to Newsclick. Today, we have with us Himadri Roy who is a professor in Gender Studies and also an LGBT rights activist. We are going to discuss about the recent judgment by the Supreme Court of United States of America which has allowed same sex marriage and also about the corrective rape. Hello Himardri. Starting with the judgment by the supreme court of America which has said that the same sex marriage has been allowed in United States. But there have been various countries which have allowed same sex marriages in the previous years. Recently, Mozambique a small country which has allowed it. Nobody is talking about it. So what is the implication of this judgment?
HR: Importantly is politically and economically U.S is considered to be supremo of all the other countries. So Mozambique does not figure anywhere in the political scenario or the economic scenario anywhere in the international scene. Then coming to Peru or Venezuela wherever the rights are there people don't talk about them also because they are very small countries considered at par with the US. They can't. Therefore, the US rules every media world and they are controlling this kind of news so that everything is hyped on them.
Pranjal: People are also being saying that it has also to do with the capital which has been involved in the LGBT movement and hence that's where US has a more dominance in.
HR: That's absolutely right Pranjal. The fact is over here; the most important thing is that the fund that is coming for running the NGOs in this country are mostly by the UN and other funds are US funds. When these funds come to the country, lots of things are taken care are looked over supervised, scrutinized by our government, Indian government. In those cases, lots of NGOs has to be shut down. When 377 case was taken up HIV and AIDS and everything was coming up where lots of people the trans-gender rights of this country everyone is fighting for that. So funds come from US a lot besides Europeand Union and beside them. The US is the main funding country of this running NGOs of LGBT people.
Pranjal: Irony is also that we are ready to accept the funds from the United States on the same issues but when asked on the issue of 377 concerned are law Minister says that we don't want to touch the judgment of supreme court. So what do you have to say about it.
HR: Over here, the most important fact is like before also I feel like before coming to the comment of the political leaders. But as a law Minister he should also pay respect to the judgment that was given by the Delhi High Court during that time and when positive sign was given during contemporary period of the Union Law Minister that time, during those period also he has to take them into consideration before passing this kind of judgment. I don't think that he should comment like that. The supreme court is also an apex body that decision is final but that decision can always change in the parliament. The parliament political leaders have the right to do that. There were people from the political leaders from this cadre I mean the NDA government. There are people who are supporting it. Now, all of a sudden they are not voicing their opinion in their cabinet or the parliament, then the Law Minister can't do anything. Recently, there have been various bodies in the public forum which have been calling homosexuality as an unnatural disease and it should be cured in all that. As a medium to it, there is a phenomenon called corrective rape which has come into limelight. Would you like to tell something about it. What is it all about.
HR: It is actually, corrective rape is a word used in South Africa the first time by the government that time during that period. They were using it to “rectify” I should use that word from that judgment itself. “Rectify” one's sexuality through rape and this rape is usually done. Why is it rape because it is not consensual. The second thing is that it is done by the family members within the family tree by someone who is known closely and well respected that kind of thing has to be done to rectify the sexuality of the person. See for an example a lesbian. That came up in the South Africa the first time. One of the lesbian was thoroughly raped by his father and brother both of them to rectify her sexuality but that was not rectified. So that was the term used by the UN later on to corrective rape. When this entire phenomenon of corrective rape we are talking about. It also is a medium through which we can also connect to the issue of marital rape that we have seen in our society. The law even does not seem to recognize that sort of rape also. In our country, the laws are itself has lots of gaps loopholes into them. If you consider rape for example, rape comes in different sections of it in a different forms of our law, Indian Penal Codes. Now, when we look into it the most important fact is that we don't see marital rape figuring anywhere. Marital rape in our country it is a thought, it is a belief that it has been imported from outside because the term itself is English term. There was no Hindi term for it. Therefore, the people were trying to say it has been imported from outside that's why the new people who are fighting the activists and all they think that's another way of giving women a boost to fight against marital rape or dragging the men to the patriarchy to the courts again. That's another thing.
Pranjal: Recently also when we look at all these phenomenon taking place in a society or in a political structure. There have been voices that have supported LGBT rights, specially the trans-gender rights people fail to recognize lesbian and gays. But transgender special bill was brought into the parliament. But when we look at it's implications and implementation in the society that's completely missing. To quote, there is an example in Delhi University. There's a single student who has been registered as a trans-gender and it's name has also not been revealed as if he or she is a criminal. So what do you want to say about it?
HR: Over here it is very interesting that the trans-gender do not want to get enrolled in universities and conventional universities very importantly the reason is they do not want to face the harassment. Though rights are given, educational and health rights are given to them, they know that they have to face harassment everyday on every phase of life in whatever forms. Like, they don't want to face it. Now, if you go to your class for example, you are talking about the student goes into the class teachers will probably harass. The classmates will harass. What he or she will do? She has nowhere to run away. She has to go to classes because attendance become compulsory. Assignment submissions are compulsory. Then only she will be allowed to sit for the exams. If she has strength enough to fight the battle, then she probably can fight and for that you need the support of the family but also from the society. Society begins from the cluster units of your classmates. Friends so called. Now, if they don't support, now where do you stand. Probably, I don't know how far the policies of the admission of the University of Delhi has formed out. I don't know, probably they have figured it out in such a way as far as I can recall, one of this admission through the extra-curricular activities one of the quota was sports quota. I think in the sports quota also you have all the policies, rules and regulations for males and females. But what about trans-gender sports quota. As if they don't play any sports. These are certain of the complications probably that's why you have won admission out of lakhs of students were there enrolled in.
Pranjal: Lastly Himadri, if you want to conclude all these things what do you think is the way ahead?
HR: See, the most important fact is for corrective; let me sort out two things very categorically. Like, if you say corrective rape only for these kind of people then I don't think this is a way to force anyone to change your sexuality you cannot. As we know US Psychiatric association has removed that from the list of diseases. It has been removed. Homosexuality does not figure anywhere. In our country, there are psychiatrists who treat, who give electric shocks, who still run old traditional thoughts to rectify the sexuality. That's not possible. So 377 has to go. You cannot hook on to it saying that you want to rule the society through this. It not only contains this part on this. It contains many things into it. We only think out of that 377 has become a tag line for the LGBT people and people very easily tag them okay he or she is an LGBT so fine him or penalize him through 377. But that's not only there. Even heterosexual husband wife anyone can because oral sex is included in it. So if a husband and wife is having oral sex that's a 377. That's as simple as that. So I think that's why thinking of a larger perspective of the society not only homosexuals, not only LGBT people also everyone in the society. 377 has to be removed and corrective rape is not the solution. Not at all the solution.
Pranjal: Thanks Himadri we would like to end on the note that struggle is the way ahead and society must and must bring itself to recognize these things and all to raise voices against the phenomenon of corrective rape and 377. Thank you Himadri. Thank you for watching Newsclick.