Thursday, September 10, 2009

Exile as a choice

Exile as a choice

Sentimentality and nostalgia have ruined the rich possibilities afforded by the ‘migrant’ novel, feels Neel Mukherjee, recipient of the 2008 Vodafone Crossword Book Award for his novel Past Continuous. Excerpts from an email interview… ADITYA SUDARSHAN
Treading a different terrain: Neel Mukherjee.

Neel Mukherjee is a writer and critic, born in Calcutta and living in London, whose debut novel tells the story of a young man escaping the city of his birth in search of a better life abroad. Past Continuous was the joint winner of the 2008 Vodafone Crossword Book Award for English Fiction. In an email interview, Mukherjee discusses his novel, its journey in the world of publishing, and some of his making as a writer.

Past Continuous is your first novel and it’s obviously deeply felt. Did you worry at any stage about how your candour would be received? For example, did you worry that the scathing treatment Calcutta gets in this book might offend some of your readers? And now that the book’s been out a while, how would you assess the reaction of readers in this respect?

I do not have any memory of worrying about the reception its candour would get but the thought did cross my mind, that Calcuttans and Bengalis might murmur against the book. I was relieved when my anxieties turned out to be unfounded. I’d like to think it’s because I do not write as an “outsider”: I know the place and the period in my blood and my bones. So no one could accuse me of not “being” a Bengali/Calcuttan. It may also have something to do with the fact that the book’s attitude towards Oxford and London are as scathing and disaffected so it balances out the disenchantment with Calcutta.

There have been plenty of books dealing with emigration from India to the West. But the protagonist is rarely as little nostalgic about what he is leaving and as single-mindedly bent on escaping, as Ritwik in Past Continuous. Were you aware, while you wrote this book, that you were treading a different emotional terrain from other ‘migrant’ novels? Is that something you deliberately set out to do?

Yes, it was a very deliberate move on my part. I was trying to look at exile as choice, as volitional and sought-out. The garden variety of nostalgia, which is nothing more than a spurious, confected sentimentality, has ruined the ‘migrant’ novel. If you must have nostalgia, there must be new ways of doing it. Aleksandar Hemon, the Bosnian-American writer, for example, looks back on his life in Sarajevo all the time, but he reinvents nostalgia for his purposes to the extent that we need to find another word for the feeling that charges his fiction. Nostalgia can be extremely powerful in the right hands: think of the intense longing in the films Andrei Tarkovsky made after he left the USSR. They wring your soul. Alas, no such thing marks Indian ‘migrant’ literature yet.

You chose a gay protagonist for the novel, and yet the fact of his homosexuality didn’t seem to me central to any of his predicaments. He might have been heterosexual and had just the same crises – only the details would differ. Do you agree with this reading? Or do you think the novel has something specific to say about Ritwik’s sexuality?

I cannot tell you how much I agree with this reading. Ritwik’s homosexuality is a sideshow. The novel is not a “gay novel” in the sense The Swimming-Pool Library or The Spell are. I’m dismayed to hear it described as a “coming-out” novel or, worse, a “coming-of-age” novel. It could then, with equal justification, be called a novel about fruit-picking, or a novel about a posh London hotel. I was once told by a reader, who was disappointed, I think, that the book was not “about” homosexuality, that I “didn’t do anything with Ritwik’s homosexuality, just placed it in the novel without dealing with it”. What’s there to deal with? His sexuality is what it is, a given, and I was not interested in mounting an enquiry into it at all. It’s a novel “about” other things.

When I finished reading Past Continuous that old line of verse came to me: East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet. Is there a sense in which you share that sentiment?

Yes, I do. I’m much more attracted to the miscegenation of cultures than to harmony. The vision of, say, Naipaul, of such complicated enmeshments and their intractable nature, excoriating though it is, speaks an undeniable truth that is lacking from the flimsier works written by lesser writers to “celebrate” multiculturalism or happy fusion of East and West. I’m much more interested in the long-term historical legacies of such (mostly baneful) encounters between worlds.

I understand that before Picador India got it, the book was considered by many agents and publishers in the U.K. Were there any recurring comments or suggestions that you received from them?

Agents don’t usually send suggestions in this country if they turn you down. The agent who took me on made one very sensitive suggestion and I accepted it instantly because it went “ping” in my head. I have one very bad experience with a UK publisher, who gave it out to be understood that she wanted to publish my book and made me do a lot of changes, all outside a contract, only to reject it in the end. What was worse was that it was obvious from the outset that she simply hadn’t “got” the book: she wanted me to turn the novel into a fluffy, romantic, weepy Exotica Fest. She wanted the “smells and colours of India”, a love-story in Ritwik’s narrative, a love-story in the Miss Gilby narrative, something that would “wrench the heart” ... I’m really, really lucky I wasn’t published by her. I think of that experience as something akin to surviving a rail crash.

You did a course in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. How useful was that experience in shaping you as a writer? Would you recommend a creative writing course to amateur writers?

It was one of the worst years of my life. The UEA Creative Writing MA was in irreversible decline by the time I joined the course: too many students; very mediocre teachers in my year; their craven kowtowing to the illusion that writers can be made out of people who are not readers; the inanity inherent in the “workshopping model” ... The anti-intellectualism that so defines the English was nowhere more starkly on show than in that dreadful MA course. What it does give you, and I think this is quite useful, is a kind of toughness, a resilience to both the dominant norm in writing produced by the Creative Writing Industry and to useless, content-free, unintelligent criticism. It can build a good filtering system in you, so that you can instantly detect rubbish in comments you get on your work and, equally, the perceptive stuff. It also teaches you to push against the zeitgeisty kind of writing that has taken over publishing and that is invaluable. So, in short, all you learn from a Creative Writing course is to go against it, a kind of walking the via negativa. On a more personal level, I should quit complaining about my time at UEA because it was there that I met the most exciting writer working in the UK today: Ali Smith. Alas, she didn’t teach my group.

As for recommending creative writing courses to amateur writers, yes, I suppose I would, very reluctantly, simply because it’s getting impossible to have your manuscript seen by agents if you do not have the rubber-stamp of a good writing school.

Who are your favourite authors and what do you like about them?

The list is endless. I’ll pick just a few. Gustave Flaubert, because he took realism to its stretching point. Samuel Beckett, because he picked up the pieces after that and created new possibilities for fiction by taking prose back to zero. Mikhail Bulgakov, for that one novel, The Master and Margarita, which shows you what a wild, untrammelled imagination is capable of. Penelope Fitzgerald, for her left-field imagination, her left-field prose, her astonishing way with details. R.K. Narayan, because the whole world is there in his gentle, witty, immensely affectionate novels; irony had not become a default position for moral impoverishment yet. Richard Yates, for the glitchless surface of his psychological realism, under which runs a bleak vision of humanity. James Salter, for some of the most extraordinary prose in the Anglo-American world.




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India turning favoured destination for gay tourists


India turning favoured destination for gay tourists

*      Published on Sun, Sep 06, 2009 at 11:50, Updated on Sun, Sep 06, 2009 at 12:10 in India section



INDIA WATCHES: People take part in the annual gay parade in Budapest on September 5, 2009.

INDIA WATCHES: People take part in the annual gay parade in Budapest on September 5, 2009.

Bangalore: With the government warming up to the idea of legalising homosexuality in India, tour operators in the country are trying to sell India as the ultimate tourists destination for gays.

The section of the tourism industry that hopes to benefit from visits by homosexual tourists may well bring a turnover estimated at two trillion dollars by year 2012, a market that's just waiting to be exploited in India.

The director of Indjapink, Sanjay Malhotra said, "Gay men or the LGBT community as they're called, is the biggest spender of lifestyle products. They have maximum disposable incomes as they come from DINK (double income, no kids) group. So they're recession proof and one thing they cannot compromise on is their vacation."

With customised trips involving gay-friendly chauffeurs and operators, the travel tour company is to be India's first dedicated gay travel boutique.

The lesbian-gay community in India has been largely keeping a low profile and there are very few who come out in the open. But it's gay men from abroad who're the primary targets of the tourism sector, with custom-designed packages to avoid harassment and embarrassment.

Tour operators recall an incident when a gay couple from abroad was in India to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Their trip was largely incident-free, but on their way back to the airport, their driver advised them to bring their wives the next time to enjoy this country's beauty.

Tour operators hope to keep their clients away from this kind of embarrassment, so the region can be at par with countries like Thailand in promoting a gay-friendly environment.

The vice-president of Karnataka Tourism Forum, Lovleen Arun said, "We need to sensitise the drivers, guides to expect this. Probably, we may think of making it a part of our training and the training courses we have for everyone."

So while courts are still debating the big gay issue, social acceptability is one obstacle in an opening tourism market.




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The WSD Book Bazaar at Shilpi Kendra - September 10-12, 2009


The Welfare Of Stray Dogs(WSD) has organised The WSD Book Bazaar, an exhibition of donated new and secondhand books from September 10-12, 2009 (Thu-Sat) from 10 am to 7 pm at Shilpi Kendra, Colaba Causeway(Opposite Cafe Mondegar),Colaba. Come browse around and pick up thousands of books  displayed on self- help, best sellers, travel, humor, spirituality, philosophy,  Indian and foreign fiction and non-fiction and children's books at throw-away prices. 

Here is a sneak peek of some of  the titles and authors of the books that are on display.


P.G. Wodehouse, Aldous Huxley,Robin Cook, Agatha Christie,P D James,John Grisham(hardback editions),Dale Carnegie,Jhumpa Lahiri and many many more


Biographies - Lady Diana, Lady Sarah,Queen Elizabeth, The Dalai Lama


Classics like Homer's Odyssey


Yes Prime Minister


The Cricinfo guide to International Cricket - 2009


The Penguin CNBC Business Yearbook 2009


Mumbai Footpaths - A coffee table book of photographs of Mumbai Footpaths


Collected Works Of Joseph Conrad ( 20 volumes) with a printed autograph ( Rare books category according to Blackwells)


and thousands more...


Also on display  Music CD's, DVD's LP's, Painting and Limited edition prints and other artefacts.


All proceeds from the book sale will go towards our sterilization and rabies prevention programme.  

The Welfare Of Stray Dogs (WSD) is an animal welfare NGO that conducts a mass sterilization & immunization programme for stray dogs and has sterilized more than 36,500 stray dogs with an objective of bringing down their population and eliminating rabies. WSD has impacted more than 1,00,000 strays through on-site first-aid, adoption and immunizations.


Do spread the word around !


Thanks and regards


Abodh Aras




The Welfare Of Stray Dogs(WSD)

Tel : 64222838/23733433
Website :
WSD Adoption Blog :
E mail :

Adopt a street dog.They are a breed apart!




Patent rejections welcomed by HIV/AIDS groups

Patent rejections welcomed by HIV/AIDS groups

Wed Sep 9, 2009 1:37pm IST





1 of 1Full Size

By Bappa Majumdar

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's rejection of patent applications on two life-saving HIV/AIDS drugs last week has been welcomed by health officials, who say it will ensure wider access to the medicines.

India has the world's third highest caseload, with 2.5 million infections, behind Nigeria and South Africa.

India's Patent Office rejected applications for leading antiretroviral drug tenofovir, manufactured by U.S. biotechnology group Gilead, and darunavir, which is made by Ireland's Tibotec Pharmaceuticals, officials said.

"This is a welcome decision and we have always been supporting AIDS drugs should not be patented, because if they are patented it will reduce their access to common people," said B.B. Rewari, a senior official at India's National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), the main government agency battling the deadly disease.

A patented tenofovir drug would have cost 3,000 rupees ($62) each, but a generic would be cost around 570 rupees, he said.

"It is a welcome decision for Indian patients and for other developing countries who are battling the disease," said Rewari, who heads the country's anti-HIV/AIDS national programme.

A spokeswoman for Tibotec Pharmaceuticals said the company was reviewing the decision and was not making any comment immediately.

AIDS workers say both companies could challenge the decision by filing a second patent application. The decision could also affect some Indian companies who have a fixed price for HIV/AIDS drugs, targeted towards rich clients.

"At the end of the day, the decision is good for the people who need these generic drugs for a lower price," Christy Abraham, the ASIA coordinator for Action Aid said.




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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Firsthand account of casting couch in showbiz

Firsthand account of casting couch in showbiz


Priyanka Chopra plays a supermodel in Fashion.

Neha Sharma and Rahul Sabharwal, Hindustan

it’s here that the fashion industry isn’t too proud matching steps with Bollywood. What happens behind the glitz and glamour of the ramp can shock even the boldest.

Model-turned-actor Aryan Vaid reveals, “Casting couch is a reality of the fashion world, it happens all the time. Once, I was auditioning for a show and the designers asked me to strip for them and wear something kinky. It was so direct. Another time, this bigshot offered me money to sleep with a politician in Delhi.”

Vivan Bhatena, model and ex-Mr India concurs, “My model friends often tell me they have to drop their pants every time they walk the ramp.” Model Bruna Abdullah (of Brazilian origin) says, “It happened to me, too... I’ve also heard a male designer asking a young boy to sleep with him if he wanted work.” 

Young aspiring models testify ‘sex for work’ as being a common demand. A 25-year-old ex-model recounts, “I met a producer for a show on TV and he asked me to accompany him to Nainital ‘to spend some time’. I backed off.”

A Delhi designer who’s a part of a designer duo, says, “A famous male model fled to Mumbai as he was being harassed by a leading gay designer in Delhi who threatened to ruin his career if he didn’t give him sexual favours. Everyone in the fraternity knows them.”

He further adds that another model went to a leading Delhi designer, known for his flamboyant image, and was asked to sleep with him before the auditions. The model even complained to the head of the fashion council organising the auditions but was told that they are helpless.




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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Not lGBT related... but useful -Students warned on flat ad scams

Students warned on flat ad scams

Gumtree ads

Adverts on websites like Gumtree are proving popular for scammers

Students looking for accommodation are being warned to beware of bogus landlords advertising on the internet.


Scotland Yard is telling would-be tenants of the dangers of sending money before seeing a property.

The scam typically involves bargain properties in adverts posted on free listing websites in student cities.

The "landlord" tells victims that the property can only be viewed if they give their bank account details. The money is then stolen.

The Metropolitan Police's Fraud Prevention Team has been monitoring the scams. In a review of a recent week's worth of reports on internet-related crime, it found almost a third involved this type of housing scam.

"Things to watch out for are adverts where there are no telephone numbers or where the only e-mail address is a free one - a Hotmail or Google e-mail address - where you're not sure really who you are dealing with," said Det Sgt Chris Felton. to your universities, your student unions. They will have approved housing lists

Ben Whittaker, National Union of Students

Raj Singh, who recently came from Canada to London to start a law degree, was the victim of such a crime.

He thought he wouild have a rented flat waiting for him. But when he arrived in the UK, there was no property and he had been tricked out of the deposit.

"After going on a website I found a flat which was for £500 a month - the owner told me that I had to show two months' rent in a money transfer place. And once I had he would fly in to the UK and show me the place," explained Mr Singh.

But within hours of him transferring the money into what was meant to be a third party's account, it had vanished and the supposed landlord could not be contacted.

"That £1,000 was money I made from a part-time job. It was my lifeline. I now might have to share a room with two others to make sure my rent is not so high," he said.


The National Union of Students (NUS) has heard reports of the scam from across the country. They suggest students use their universities for guidance when looking for somewhere to live and not to feel rushed into deals.

"There are plenty of houses out there, plenty of stock," said Ben Whittaker of the NUS.

"Go to your universities, your student unions. They will have approved housing lists. Even if your hall of residents teams can't accommodate you they will often point you in the right direction."

Although the warning from the police is particularly aimed at students as the new term begins, it emphasises anyone using free listing websites should be wary.

The style of scam has also been seen in bogus car sales and holiday home lets.

"If you're being asked to send money upfront without being certain that property exists or the person has control of that property then you need to be very, very careful," Det Sgt Chris Felton said.

"Think once, think twice, ask some friends, get some advice and if you're ultimately not happy don't send any money," he said.




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There's Space For All At The Party

There's Space For All At The Party


During my student days at Boston University, i recall being introduced to the writings of Aime Cesaire, the great African essayist, playwright,

poet and politician whose stirring prose was often a manifestation of his rage against the colonial enterprise. "It is not true that the work of man is finished", declared Cesaire, "...the work of man is only just beginning...and no race holds the monopoly of beauty, intelligence and strength and there is place for all at the rendezvous of victory.'' I'd like to think that message still resonates with marginalised communities wherever they exist, including those in the spotlight of the Delhi high court's landmark judgement on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

Decriminalising homosexuality marks a critical point of departure in the lives of many across the nation; young and old, gay and straight, rich and poor. And while full emancipation may yet be an unfulfilled desire, it is an important first step in a legitimate struggle along that long arc of justice. To be sure, there will always be a blinkered few who will opt for an over-simplistic "us versus them" dualism but this is where rational argument and nuanced analysis can and should take centre stage in mainstream Indian politics. Moral prescriptions aside, the issue here is less an examination of sexual peccadilloes than about ensuring a vulnerable minority's unfettered access to fundamental human rights enshrined in our Constitution and guaranteed to every Indian citizen.

AIDS continues to be a global health crisis and India is teetering on the brink of that abyss. It is time to accept that reality, erase the stigma and create a safe space for a free and frank discussion of sexual behaviour to enable access to quality health care for all. Legal barriers and criminalisation have for too long effectively blocked the empowerment of groups at high risk of HIV infection by denying or obstructing their right to live healthy and safe lives. It is unconscionable that in a country with one of the world's largest populations of people with AIDS, Section 377 has been used by officials to obstruct the work of legitimate HIV-prevention groups, leaving high-risk communities defenceless against infection. AIDS and the new wave of activism it engendered around the world may have fully awakened many to gay people all around them, but a tardy and still embryonic national awareness will not save the lives of those whose abridged rights make them even more vulnerable during a rampaging plague.

Legislation here can be a powerful tool in shaping a policy response to the AIDS crisis. When based on universally accepted human rights standards, and appropriately implemented and enforced, the law can support positive public health outcomes and enable individuals and communities to realise their rights without fear or favour.

Self-appointed custodians of Indian culture and the extreme right will always harbour archaic prejudices about anyone not like them but they never did merit serious attention in a free-thinking democracy like ours. Let us recognise that there are sections of Hindu, Muslim and Christian groups that have misgivings about homosexuality but also agree that it should not be criminalised. They would be the first to acknowledge that laws governing religious doctrine cannot be equated with the law of the land in a secular democracy. I find it disingenuous on the part of those who use selective text and inference to condemn someone's sexual preference while ignoring some of the proscriptions in their own teachings. Rather than pontificate on virtue and vice, we really ought to leave all value judgements to a higher power.

In the final analysis, policy and perception feed off each other and a paradigm shift in both is needed for real progress to take place. If my campaign experience across the socio-economic divide has taught me anything, it is that young India is not just a barometer of social change but a determining factor in shaping it. Indians of my generation are not afraid to speak the truth to power. That gives me hope. More so about the poor and less privileged sections of the gay community in both urban and rural India who have neither the financial nor political clout to counter the persecution, blackmail and incarceration they are constantly subjected to. For them, decriminalisation and its proper implementation could be life-altering.

So the next time you see your gay friend, relative or neighbour, think about the rights you were born into and the rights of others for which you've fought. Ask yourself if you can step out of your comfort zone to advocate for the rights of all, regardless of gender, caste, sexuality, ability, or religion, to pursue your freedom and happiness. After all, our convictions mean the most when they include those beyond ourselves. And when push comes to shove, we may still find there is place for us all in Cesaire's rendezvous of victory.

The writer is a member of Parliament.




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Friday, September 04, 2009

Re: Gaybombay:375] A Rational Approach Towards Same-Sex Unions? By M. Burhanuddin Qasmi

This is a rediculous article that quotes god and morality even when it is supposedly talking about science. All of its examples are also based on just this line of argument. But here is the main problem with this line of reasoning:
The freedom of the individual is sacroscanct as long as it does not affect another tangibly. And 'tangibly' is the key here. It should not be enough that the the other's moral indignation has been tickled. He has to be tangible harmed. Homosexuality in private does not do that. It does not affect society in any way other than raise the moral and religious heckles of nutcases like the author here.
As far as the religious arguement goes, its is easy for the author to either not quote, or not have read the millions of religious people from various religious denominations who have either expressed their sympathy or their support for the rights of LGBT.
This very simply means that the authour and their ilk are not the only religious voices, and there is no reason why in a secular society, their arguements should be given any greater weightage than the voices who do not agree with them.
The equating of homosexuality with incest is the most rediculous arguements of all. There is no criminal sanction is our society for adult incest. So where is the question of doing anything overt to 'legitimise' it.? It is just high drama that may wash in friday sermons in the mosque courtyard. It equates to sheer bullshit in any respectable journal.
Finally as far as adult having sex with children goes, it is a criminal offence in any form (homosexual, heterosexual, or any other way). So that example is also illogical and irrelevant. But the queer thing here is that the holy Quran sanctions paedophila. It allows an adult person to marry and have sex with and impregnate a girl as young as 13. All that is required is that the girl should be pubert. I hope this great author has the moral courage to wax as eloquent as he has done here, against such a practice as given in the Quran.
Best regards to all,
Aditya Bondyopadhyay

2009/9/3 <>

A Rational Approach Towards Same-Sex Unions

Thu, 2009-09-03 00:15 —


By M. Burhanuddin Qasmi

"What! Of all creatures do ye come unto the males, and leave the wives your Lord created for you? Nay, but ye are aggressive folk." (Al-Qur'an 26:165)

Following the footsteps of a few Western countries, the Delhi high court has decriminalized the consensual sex between adults of the same gender on July 2, 2009.

All the major media houses – electronic and print, were agog with flashing headlines the next day- "Homosexuality in India decriminalized" and "India ultimately democratized". The judgment of the Delhi high court said that committing homosexual acts that is having gay or lesbian sex or having unnatural sex, which in turn means same-sex marital relationship or sex among bi-sexuals and transgenders, is no longer illegal in India.

The high court verdict came blatantly and argued that it is against the fundamental right of liberty and life to punish the adult and consensual practitioner of unnatural sex. The on record judgment thus reads:

"Moral indignation, howsoever strong, is not a valid basis for overriding individuals' fundamental rights of dignity and privacy. In our scheme of things Constitutional morality must outweigh the argument of public morality, even if it be the majoritarian view."

This judgment in fact, repealed the Article 377 (1860) of the Indian constitution.

Under the section of unnatural offences the article 377 of Indian Criminal Panel Code Cr.PC) reads:

"Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine."

With the high court judgment, the voices of protest had been heard from all corners of the Indian mainstream society including anthropologists, medical scientists, religious and political leaders. A majority of the Indians interprets the judgment as something against nature, Indian tradition, religion and culture. And more interestingly, all major religious leaders – Hindu, Muslim and Christian are united on this front and have decided to fight against the judgment of the high court, but the Supreme Court as of now has declined to put stay orders on HC's verdict.

Certainly, the Delhi high court has flung open a never-ending debate among sections of intellectuals including Indian parliamentarians. The members of 'Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender movement' (LGBT) who have actually filed a PIL seeking legalization of gay sex among consenting adults in 2001, of course, are very happy with the verdict and have marked it as 'landmark' and 'historic' decision and the day – '2nd July 2009' a day of celebration. Thus, the issue invites our methodical study with genuine and humane rationalism.


Sodomy, modern homosexuality, is consistently considered both legally and morally wrong since the age of pre-recorded history. In the three major religions of the world – Islam, Christianity and Judaism places on the plain of the River Jordan named, Sodom and Gomorrah have been used as metaphors for vice and punishable sexual deviation of human beings.

The religious scriptureso of the glorious Qur'an and holy Bible relate the story of Prophet Lut (as) or Lot's nation in Surah Al-Hijr: 72-73 and Genesis 19:24-25. The meanings remain somehow similar in both the scriptures 'for the sins of their inhabitants Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, "were destroyed by the Lord of Heaven". The story has therefore given rise to words in several languages, including the Arabic words Luti or Luwatat which in English is "sodomy", a term used today predominantly in law to describe non-vaginal intercourse, as well as bestiality.

In 1976 the historian Michel Foucault argued that 'homosexuality as an identity did not exist till the eighteenth century; that people instead spoke of sodomy, which referred to sexual acts'.

Actually sexual life of a person has two major orientations – heterosexual, that is vaginal male-female or natural sex and homosexual. Europeans have later divided the homosexuals or the same-sex relationship into four categories:

1. Gays are called those men who have their sexual desire only with other men.
2. Lesbians are such women who fulfill their sexual needs only with other women.
3. Bisexual are those who are found to have sexual desire with both men and women.
4. Transgender are those who have resemblance to both men and women and can play either role during sexual meetings.

Beginning Of The LGBT Right Movements

Human culture and morality has been gradually influenced by so-called Western personal freedom jeopardizing human etiquette and man's distinction from animals. Though a little number of people throughout history have been engaged in unnatural and immoral acts of homosexual behaviour either because they do not find women or they are found of transgression against established law or because they find a greater pleasure in it.

But it is a historical fact that before the 18th century, homosexuality was considered a dangerous crime and all countries in the world had punishment for it and even in England the punishment for this crime was the death sentence. In 1785 some people from England raised voices to reduce the punishment but a majority of people were against it and so it could not be done. It was a dark day in the history of mankind when in 1791 the French government announced that homosexuality was not a crime and there would not be any punishment for this act.

Various scholarly articles and books record that since the Stonewall riots of 1969 in the USA, widely considered the start of the LGBT rights movement, there has been increased visibility, recognition and legal rights for lesbian, gay and bi-sexual people, including the rights to marriage and civil unions.

Rational Or Irrational Decision

A British scholar writes, 'Homosexuality – whether lesbian or gay – has been, and still is, regarded as inherently obscene. In 1936 Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness was declared obscene because it dealt with lesbianism. Nearly 50 years later, in 1984, the London bookshop Gay's the Word was prosecuted and 800 items seized on the same grounds'.

'This is in fact ruination of Indian culture. Homosexuality is an unnatural act and it is dangerous to moral values. It plays a key role in making the society liable to fall. Thus such verdict can never be accepted and the government must not hasten to amend the section 377 of IPC' has been the reaction of a prominent Indian scholar, Maulana Badruddin Ajmal Al-Qasmi, the president of Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) and MP of the Lok Sabha form Dhubri constituency of Assam, following the controversial verdict of the Delhi HC.

Hearing the petition filed by NAZ Foundation, a bench comprising Chief Justice Ajeet Prakash Shah and S. Murlidhar argued that the section 377 of the IPC goes against the 21st article of the same section, which gives every citizen equal right to live "his own life". Therefore, it must be amended. Amending the 21st article, would provide the citizens with opportunity to live lustful and profligate lives and we must not overlook the fear which indicates ruination of the already devastated society. The verdict has destroyed many principles such as security to the religious tenets, health code and the moral values only to save one article. Thus here harm is more than benefit, so the argument is not wise.

Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, a Hyderabad based theological jurist expressed his anguish against the HC verdict in a long article carried by a national Urdu newspapers on July 31, 2009. He argues 'living one's "own life" does not mean at all, that brushing aside with all the religious and moral values, man should cross all the limits of lust and inhuman wishes and the government should provide him with the constitutional security'. Consensual sex between adults of the same gender is an unnatural act which is neither allowed in any religion, nor accepted by any noble man, he further wrote.

When this writer talked to a teenage medical student in Guwahati, Assam, he responded with sharp counter questions. He asked, "If the judges, who have issued the verdict find their own sons or daughters in such 'shameful' act, will they bear it? If not, then why did they allow such unnatural act that will surely ruin the whole society and the Indian culture?"

For many the verdict of the Delhi HC was uncalled for and they demand that the higher judiciary should revise it soon and the government should not amend the section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

Homosexuality and gayness are against both nature and logic. It is a moral lapse that kills the soul of civilized society. It is an unnatural aberration, which destroys and debases a human being. Those who granted it a legal status and considered it as a personal choice of a citizen cannot stand on their own logic. For instance men's personal choice has no limits, even speaking exclusively about one's sex life.

There are thousands of reported and unreported sexual incidents between most respected and very close family members who are adult, sound and did it with mutual consent like sex between father and daughter, mother and sons and brother and sister. Those who did it or eager to do are of course human, by the general definition, they love to name their act as personal choice or 'individual freedom' and more so it can be termed as one's family affair. Are we the rest of the society – governments and human right champions about to legalize their acts too? If not, then of course every freedom, every personal choice has a limitation and precisely the limitation in this case is wholly based on social, cultural and religious grounds.

Adultery, fornication, say pre-marital and extra marital sexual relations or sodomy, gayism and lesbianism were considered 'sin' or illegal earlier by all the civilized socialites with same degree as they consider sexual relation between father and daughter or mother and son today. The sexual understanding in the former cases is now changed – they are no more so 'heinous' in most of the 'developed' western countries, thanks to aggressive campaign by the players involved in the acts– consensual sex between father-daughter or mother-son is still somehow intact in mainstream societies of the world.

My point here is that in a democracy, no doubt, public opinion and consensus of individuals do matter. So if some day a few people come out openly and demand to legalize what they are doing today in hiding, with the criminal tendency in hearts, as sexual relations within close family members and put 'logical' arguments with reference to economy and durability of the relationship and cite scientific and medical reasons in support of the act as it is not physically harmful or beneficial; would we amend the present laws, social structure and family system? If yes, what will be the last choice of a person in his sexual behavior and where will he finally rest his lustful freedom express with more moral degradation in the future of the human race. And if no, then better that the government and the society tries to limit it today rather than waiting for a morally worsening tomorrow.

Furthermore, sexual life between two individual is not just to fulfill one's lust or physical need but it is mainly for procreation of human races and this purpose is defeated if the anal canal is used for sexual purposes. It is contrary to the Creator's design of male and female – Adam and Hawa (Eve) which is a natural fit. Homosexuals – gay or lesbian, cannot naturally give birth to children. The almighty Lord clearly sees homosexual activity as symptomatic of living by one's desire rather than the Creator's design, it is clear transgression of the law of nature and it's rampage, uninterrupted practices will invite irreparable ecological, biological and health damages to the entire human folks.

Major Religions On Homosexuality


A rightist Hindu Ramesh Shinde writes 'In Hindu Dharma, being a eunuch and having homosexual relations are two different matters. In Mahabharata, 'Shikhandi' has been known as a eunuch warrior; but Dharma does not recognize homosexual relations and considers it as abnormality. The verses 62 and 63 in Chapter 2 of the Bhagwad Geeta explain about how an excess of sex can destroy man. In 'Narada-Smruti', marriage of homosexuals is considered to be taboo'.

S K Gupta, spokesman of Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the July 2 judgment of Delhi high court decriminalizing homosexuality. The petitioner prayed to the apex court to set aside the judgment as such sexual acts will have corrupting effect on the culture and ethos of Indian society. The famous Yoga prince Baba Ramdev appears to consider homosexuality a mental disease and he suggests it is curable through Yoga.


Traditional- say original Judaism explicitly condemns and prohibits homosexuality. It has prescribed one of the sever punishments for those who commit homosexual acts. In an article for Lisa Katz argues: 'The various movements within Judaism differ in their view of homosexuality. Traditional Judaism considers homosexual acts as a violation of Jewish law (halakha)'.

According to the Bible, homosexual acts are "to'evah," an abomination.
In Leviticus 18:22, it is written: "And you shall not cohabit with a male as one cohabits with a woman; it is an abomination."

And in Leviticus 20:13, it is found: "And if a man cohabits with a male as with a woman, both of them have done an abominable thing; they shall be put to death; their blood falls back upon them."

New York's Jewish Week described Dennis Prager as "one of the three most interesting minds in American Jewish Life" details in his article 'Judaism's Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism Rejected Homosexuality' and argues 'when Judaism demanded that all sexual activity be channeled into marriage, it changed the world. The Torah's prohibition of non-marital sex quite simply made the creation of Western civilization possible'.

Dennis Prager further writes: The revolutionary nature of Judaism's prohibiting all forms of non-marital sex was nowhere more radical, more challenging to the prevailing assumptions of mankind, than with regard to homosexuality.


A hand some amount of references can be cited from biblical texts (New Testament) and from the scholarly writings of Christian clergies which clearly condemns sodomy (homosexuality) from as early as 250 CE. The writings of Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, Aristides, Cyprian, Eusebius, St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine of Hippo, and in doctrinal sources and canon law such as the Apostolic Constitutions – for example, Eusebius of Caesarea's statement which condemns "the union of women with women and men with men."

"Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers – none of these will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

A report published by The Times of India, July 2, 2008, gives the news "Women priests are fine, but gay bishops are not allowed. This is the attitude of Anglican Church in India which is supporting the traditionalists." Bishop Gavit, the former church of North India bishop of the city said, "We in India and also other countries of South Asia have been opposed to the issue of gays in church like other countries of Asia and Africa," he said.

There is also a report in Hindustan Times, the same day (July 2, 2008), which reads that homosexuals are not mentally sound people. The report follows; "Protestant church leaders in Mumbai have likened homosexuals to people not of sound mind" as the Anglican Church inched towards a schism between liberals and conservatives. Both the church of North India (CNI) and the Church of South India (CSI) are supporting a conservative breakaway faction of Anglican Church, called the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, on the battle over allowing gay clergy into the church.

"We are not comfortable with the idea of a gay priest," said Reverend Prakash Patole, Bishop of Mumbai, CNI."

"CNI and CSI have accepted women priests but we haven't got to stage of welcoming homosexuals," said Reverend K.I. Dyvasirvadam of St Stephen's Church, Bandra.

Similar views were echoed by many Christian priests and religious scholars. "The Bible does not recognize gay marriages or gay priests," said Reverend Benny Thomas of CSI, Mumbai.

'God clearly sees homosexual activity as symptomatic of living by one's desire rather than the Creator's design.' (Romans 1:25–27).


Islam being the most modern and of course the latest among all major religions in the world speaks unequivocally on the illegality of homosexuality. There are references in the Qur'an which directly or indirectly refer to gay and lesbian behavior. Some obviously deal with effeminate men and "masculine women." However the two main references to homosexual behavior are:

"We also sent Lut: He said to his people: "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." (Al-Qur'an 7:80-81)

"What! Of all creatures do ye come unto the males, and leave the wives your Lord created for you? Nay, but ye are aggressive folk." (Al-Qur'an 26:165)

Prophet of Islam Lut (as) is referred to as "Lot" in the Hebrew Scriptures. This passage is an apparent reference to the activities at Sodom and Gamorrah. It seems to imply that there was no homosexual behavior before it first appeared in Sodom. The passage also links the sin of Sodomites (the reason for Sodom's destruction) to homosexuality.

Many Ahadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad (saws)) discuss luwatat (sexual intercourse between males):

"When a man mounts another man, the throne of Allah shakes," means the act is a heinous crime and severely punishable by the law of almighty Lord.

"May Allah curse him who does what the Lut's people did." (Ibn Hibban)

There is at least one mention of lesbian behavior in the Hadith: "Sihaq (lesbian sexual activity) of women is zina (illegitimate sexual intercourse) among them." (Tabrani)

There is a consensus among all Islamic scholars that all humans are naturally heterosexual. Homosexuality is seen by scholars to be a sinful and perverted deviation from the law of nature. All Islamic schools of thought and jurisprudence consider gay acts to be unlawful. They differ in terms of penalty but every school has prescribed punishment for the unlawful act.

Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi of the USA based ISNA said: "Homosexuality is a moral disorder. It is a moral disease, a sin and corruption... No person is born homosexual, just like no one is born a thief, a liar or murderer. People acquire these evil habits due to a lack of proper guidance and education."

"There are many reasons why it is forbidden in Islam. Homosexuality is dangerous for the health of the individuals and for the society. It is a main cause of one of the most harmful and fatal diseases. It is disgraceful for both men and women. It degrades a person. Islam teaches that men should be men and women should be women. Homosexuality deprives a man of his manhood and a woman of her womanhood. It is the most un-natural way of life. Homosexuality leads to the destruction of family life."

Medical Science On Homosexuality

The World Health Organization's (WHO) ICD-9 (1977) listed homosexuality as a mental illness; it was removed later from the ICD-10, endorsed by the Forty-third World Health Assembly on May 17, 1990.

'A sharp rise in HIV infections could be looming among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Asia unless they are given better access to health services…' say health experts.

In the recent past a meeting jointly held by WHO, UN Development Programme, and UNAIDS in Hong Kong to find ways to deal with HIV/AIDS problem in the region. The primary conclusion of the meeting was that there is a "paucity of information and several knowledge gaps" due to lack of surveillance but the research that has been done indicates "widespread HIV transmission throughout the region where MSM (men have sex with men) and TG (trans gender sex) appear increasingly and disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic".

Dealing with the ongoing debate in India following July 2, 2009 verdict of the Delhi HC a senior sex therapist in Mumbai and MD Dr. Rajan B Bhonsle who is also an Hon. professor and head of the department of sexual medicine at Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai mastered an article 'Gay rights is ok, but what about health risks?; carried by DNA newspaper on July 14, 2009. Dr. Bhonsle's argument, to me, is striking and factual, hence sharing the abstract of his article will bring home the medical aspects of homosexuality. He writes:

'Being a medical practitioner in the field of sexual medicine for over two decades, I have seen severe medical complications arising out of "consensual sodomy" or "anal sex", whether between two homosexuals, or even when it has been compelled on a woman by a man.

The physical and emotional trauma of these victims stirs my heart and cannot go unmentioned in the midst of all this debate of "de-criminalizing consensual sexual behavior in privacy between two same-sex individuals".

Kiran was a 20-year-old frail boy from a poor family. He got a job of a peon in a private office after a lot of struggle. His boss, a 46-year-old rich married man, fancied anal sex. He pressurized Kiran to have anal sex with him after office hours in his cabin. Kiran felt helpless as this job was vital for him. He consented to the demands of his boss.

A few months later, when he approached a doctor, he had developed infected painful fissures at his anus and had partially lost control on the mechanism of the anal opening which was not functioning due to the injuries during anal sex. He had lost his job and had no courage to approach the police as he felt he had neither the moral right nor the legal standing as he was major and had "consented" to this act.

Deepak, a 32-year-old married government employee was a bisexual. He would indulge in anal sex with some of his male office colleagues 'consensually' for mutual pleasure. His wife was completely oblivious to this side of her husband. Deepak also never felt that his secret parallel life would ever affect his marriage.

During the second pregnancy of his wife, the obstetrician detected that she was not only HIV positive, but her tests for Syphilis, Hepatitis-B and Genital Herpes were also found positive. Deepak too was tested positive for these four STDs. It was obvious that Deepak had contracted all these STDs from his multiple homosexual contacts and now his wife and unborn child were also victims of these life threatening infections.

In all the cases, the involved individuals were 'adults' and were engaging into anal sex with 'mutual consent' in 'privacy'. Doctors get to see several such cases. I wish all those who are critical of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (1860) need to give serious consideration to their demands. The legal experts, social activists, gay organisations and the media cannot afford to be ignorant about possibilities such as these.

As a medical expert, I would like to talk about some medical facts related to anal sex. Medical science regards anal sex as "high-risk behavior".

Physiologically, the anus is not designed for penetration by any hard object. The anal sphincter tightens ordinarily if stimulated, as a protective reflex action, and any attempt at penile insertion may be distressing even if done slowly and gradually. If the penis is forced into the anus, injury is possible. The lining (mucus membrane) of the rectum is very thin, tears easily, does not heal fast and therefore is vulnerable to infections.

Also, the tears can enlarge to a fissure or a crack leading to the outside of your body. There is also a possibility that a fistula could open up, allowing faeces to re-route into the abdominal cavity or into the vagina. This can cause serious surgical complications. One may lose control over the anal sphincter causing continuous involuntary leakage of faecal matter.

Some of the micro-organisms that are normally present in the anus of even a healthy individual are known for causing severe urinary infection if they enter the urethra and urinary tract. During anal sex the urethra actually enters the rectum, inviting infective bacteria into the urethra and thus the urinary tract. Repeated urinary infection can cause serious problems such as renal damage and even kidney failure.

Masters & Johnson in their book on 'Sex and Human Loving' warn, that because bacteria are naturally present in the anus, anything that has been inserted into the anus if subsequently put into the vagina, can cause severe vaginal infections. Therefore moving from anal intercourse to vaginal intercourse is extremely hazardous.

The rate of transmission of HIV (and other STDs) through anal sex is much higher compared to other penetrative sexual acts. It will be enlightening to know that the condom, which is thought to be a means of "so-called safe sex", is not designed for anal sex by the manufacturers. Anal sex involves a totally different kind of pressure dynamics, and the latex or polyurethane condoms are not manufactured keeping these pressure dynamics in mind. The condom is far more likely to get torn during anal sex (thus paving the way for the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other STDs). Therefore I reiterate that anal sex even with the use of a condom is definitely a "high risk behavior".

Finally, I would like to conclude by saying that as a society, we need to learn to accept all "persons" with equal human rights irrespective of their choices, but we do reserve the right to reject certain "behaviors" that are injurious to the health of those persons or others connected to them...'

The Call

Here the final call is STOP. We need to stop here and now. Freedom of individual choices has no limit at all. A society would face complete social, moral and collective collapse if all individual members of the society are given just a free hand to go with their own life anyway they like.

For example the youthful owner of the BMW car loves to drive by 250 km per hour speed on Mumbai-Pune express highway whereas a trucker enjoys going by 20 km speed on the fast-track of the same express road. Why are the both wrong, and the traffic police hunt and fine such offenders on road at the spot! Another adult sane, for instance, loves to go complete nude in public as his or her show of personal 'freedom', thanks to universal sense of humanity that till date no country in the world though legalized it. In the former case the reason being for such driving unlawful or punishable crime is either the driver will harm himself or the others on the road not following the prescribed rules for driving on that highway. And in the later it is nothing but morality, saneness of human being and social structure of human life that does not allow another human to remain completely nude all the time and to freely roam around in market places, offices and even at home before others.

Spirituality or morality is naturally manifested to every human being, it changes the degree later with social or behavioral changes of a child. Without moral or spiritual force from within, even an atheist or a nonbeliever in any religion will reduce his 'own life' a hell in a very short span of life. Legalizing homosexuality or say extra martial heterosexuality is logically inhuman. No sane society should allow or appreciate it.

The author M. Burhanuddin Qasmi is the editor of Eastern Crescent magazine, a Darul Uloom Deoband alumnus and the director of Mumbai based Markazul Ma'arif Education & Research Centre.

- Asian Tribune -




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