Sunday, June 28, 2009

India media goes gay--- Times Of India LGBT stories on June 28.2009

HI All

I am amazed at the coverage almost all  major papers have given to LGBT issues. Happy and gay times ahead. Have compiled most of it for you according to the papers they were published in. Here goes the Times Of India coverage



From Times of India

Anti-gay law may be changed soon

Two Key Ministers In Favour, Rigid Home Ministry Alters Stand On Repealing Sec 377

Vishwa Mohan | TNN

New Delhi: The government is planning to repeal the law that criminalises homosexuality. The home ministry, which has consistently opposed any change in Section 377 of the IPC that treats private consensual sex between same-sex adults as a crime, appears to have changed its stand.
    Home minister P Chidambaram is learnt to have expressed his views favouring the repeal of Section 377 to his officials. This is in contrast to his predecessor Shivraj Patil, who doggedly refused to make any change in a 150-year-old law that was introduced in India by the British, but junked in Britain 40 years ago.
    Chidambaram’s approach is significant as the home ministry has been a stumbling block so far in any attempt to change the law. Law minister Veerappa Moily has said he favours a “review’’. The health ministry—whose assent is a must to amend Section 377—has historically favoured a repeal.
    Sources in the home ministry said Chidambaram, in order to speed up the matter, will soon take it up with Moily and health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad at a joint meeting and seek their “formal’’ views. The opinion of state governments will also be sought, the sources added.
    Officials in the ministry believe that since the law minister too seems to be in favour of changing the law, the government’s stand before the Delhi high court, which is considering a petition challenging arrests under Section 377, may now change. Although the court has finished hearing arguments on the 2001 petition by the non-profit group, Naz Foundation, the matter can be taken up afresh.
    “If there is consensus over repealing the law or bringing in some suitable changes to decriminalize homosexual relationships, the ministry can submit before the court that it has changed its position and ask for
    hearings to be reopened,’’ said a senior officer.
    Earlier, the home ministry’s position was that homosexuality is not accepted by Indian society and repealing the law would open the floodgates for delinquent behaviour. It also argued that this was the only law that could be applied in cases of child abuse and male rape.
    The health ministry, on the other hand, had argued that homosexuals are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, hence the discrimination against them should end.
    The home ministry is now waiting to see whether new health minister Azad favours his ministry’s earlier stand. A final decision is likely after the proposed ministerial meeting, which will also consider bringing in new provisions to deal with cases related to child abuse and male rape in case Section 377 is repealed. The meeting is being called following PM Manmohan Singh’s intervention. He had directed the ministers to resolve their differences so that the government gets a uniform view on homosexuality. The high court, too, had told the government to sort out its differences. OPENING UP
A poll of avowedly heterosexual people in eight major cities on how they view homosexuality showed that prejudices aren’t quite as firmly entrenched as many might expect. The results indicate a more liberal attitude towards gayness than in the past. The times, it appears, are changing.


Swinging sixties

On the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, a look at the gay scene in India in the ’60s

Vikram Doctor | TNN

    Sunil Gupta probably shouldn’t have been there when he first saw other gay people. He was 14 or 15 years old and in the most notorious place in Delhi in the late 1960s. This was The Cellar, the first nightclub started outside a hotel, and Gupta was there as his sister’s chaperone. “I’d be given a Coke and told to sit in a corner seat,” he recalls.
    It was while sitting there that he heard people talking. “They said, did you know that guy there is gay,’’ says Gupta. He had heard about gays from magazines brought by Berkeley students who were paying guests with his family. “They had gay personals ads, and while the students weren’t gay, I could talk with them about it.’’ And now, at The Cellar, he could put faces (some still well known in Delhi, though still not out) to that term and realise there were gays living in Delhi, just as he could be too.
    The Pride marches taking place across the world this weekend commemorate the 40th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots which started on June 28, 1969. That night, the police raided a gay bar, a routine harassment, but this time instead of submitting, people fought back, kicking off the public struggle for queer rights. Today, it’s easy to forget that the struggle existed here too back in 1969. And impossible as Pride marches in India would have seemed then,
it was the community’s sheer existence at that time that would provide the soil from which today’s movement would spring.
    Men and men, women and women, have always been sleeping together in India, as evidenced in sources like the Khajuraho carvings, Urdu love poetry and literary references like Ismat Chughtai’s Lihaaf. The criminalisation of such practices, as brought in by the British, stifled any open growth of the community, yet it continued to exist. Police reports hint at the persecutions the community faced, yet it survived, as is shown by literary references, in sources as diverse as the sensational stories of Ugra (Pandey Bechan Sharma), Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet, and a wonderfully badly written, yet campily fun novel called The Dew Drop Inn by Leslie de Noronha, who was for years the theatre critic of Mumbai’s Catholic newsletter The Examiner. That novel paints a picture of a freewheeling gay scene in Bombay and Delhi in the ’60s, but always in private and mostly at parties.
    “It was vital to have a place of your own,’’ says S., a writer who came to Delhi in his teens. He remembers a maharajah who had a huge house in Delhi from where he made full use of his position as the Indian representative of an international sporting association. “It was really quite an exploitative scene, that was the unpleasant side to it,’’ says S.
    Foreigners were a large part of it. Many had stayed on after the Raj, usually as agents of foreign firms, enjoying the freedom their status gave them to lead a gay life they couldn’t back home. They also enjoyed the many Indian men
who preferred sleeping with foreigners, because they saw it as safer than sleeping with other Indians. By the late ’60s though, another younger type of foreigner was being seen—Peace Corps workers or the first hippies.
    Another change of the ’60s was the chance it allowed a few young people to experience gay culture in the West. This was courtesy Air India which, hard as it is to imagine now, was one of the leading, most stylish airlines in the world then. Run by worldly bosses like Bobby Kooka, it attracted many gay and bisexual men (and a few lesbians as well) to work as aircrew. Going abroad was still hard for Indians, so for the aircrew it was a great chance to experience gay life abroad. N., one of them, remembers how, on one of his first trips to the US, soon after they checked into a Manhattan hotel, two other gay crew members, who had figured him out, took him to a bathhouse where gay men met. “They went off to have fun and left me alone. I was so embarrassed it took me about three to four visits before I picked up the courage to approach someone!’’
In the years after Stonewall, N. did notice a greater openness in New York: “Before you’d take the cab to the head of the road the bathhouse was in, but later on they had no problem dropping you to the door!’’ But no change seemed forthcoming in India. Many of his gay colleagues got married, arguing that an open gay life in India was impossible, while others, like a lesbian couple he knew, emigrated. In Delhi too, S. saw gay IAS officers he knew getting married; there seemed no other option, and the sex they could always get on the side. And yet even then there were a few who resisted. B., an academic in Bangalore, cites the example of two older friends—a historian and a businessman—who never came out about their sexuality but never concealed it either and always remained friendly and supportive, but not exploitative, of younger gay men. “They really played a mentoring role to me,’’ says B. In 1990 journalist Ashok Row Kavi started Bombay Dost, India’s first gay magazine. In Delhi, a group of gays and lesbians started meeting to discuss how to start fighting for gay rights; they called themselves the Red Rose group because a flower was always kept on the table to identify it for newcomers.
In time more people would come out, more gay and lesbian books would be published, Fire would be made, attacked and defended, HIV would force government to tacitly acknowledge groups representing sexual minorities. And ultimately, in however unlikely a way, one has reached a time when both Dostana and Pride marches are possible. It is a huge change, yet it would not have been possible, here as in New York 40 years ago, without the gays and lesbians who lived their lives then.


Homophobic India in dubious league

Rubs Shoulders With Hardline Islamic Nations; Even China Lifted Ban On Gay Sex In ’97

Manoj Mitta | TNN

New Delhi: If the government musters courage to decriminalise homosexuality, or if the Delhi high court effects such a change on the petition challenging Section 377 IPC, India will shed the dubious honour of being among the 10 countries that can impose life sentence for gay sex.
    This category of homophobic countries includes Pakistan, Uganda, Tanzania and Sierra Leone—not exactly the kind of company that a liberal democracy wants to keep.
    It can’t draw comfort from the fact that there is a category of eight countries that are even more illiberal as they impose capital punishment for the same offence, which is variously described as “unnatural offence”, “buggery”, “sodomy” or “serious indecency”.
    Not surprisingly, those that put their homosexuals to death are essentially hardline Islamic countries: Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, Yemen, Afghanistan, Sudan, Mauritania and parts of Nigeria. India would do well to be conscious of the big picture, which shows that more than half the countries in the world have by now decriminalised homosexuality and that it is among the 85 countries that have clung to the archaic ban, accompanied by various degrees of penalty.
    Its great rival, China, has left India behind in breaching this cultural barrier. For all its draconian laws, China lifted its ban on gay sex in 1997. In the much touted combine of BRIC nations, India is the only one that punishes homosexuality as, besides China, Brazil and Russia too have long crossed the rubicon.
    The situation is no less embarrassing in its south Asian neighbourhood. For, Nepal, despite all its political turmoil, turned gay-friendly in December 2007 when its Supreme Court ordered its government to scrap laws that discriminate against homosexuals. It’s a precedent worthy of being followed by the Delhi high court should the Manmohan Singh government fail to take the initiative.
    India could also draw inspiration from the activism displayed by the Obama administration in March in reversing its predecessor’s decision to withhold US support to a UN General Assembly declaration calling for decriminalisation of homosexuality. Thus, US joined 66 other countries which had supported the declaration in December 2008 condemning human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
    Though all the states of US legalised homosexuality by 2003, the outgoing Bush administration refused to sign the declaration in December citing concerns that it would encroach on the autonomy of states to legislate on matters involving discrimination. On reviewing the policy, the Obama administration concluded that the declaration did not create any new legal obligations for US and would therefore have no effect on the existing laws in its states.
    India is out of sync with the worldwide trend of homosexuality being legalised in developing countries as well. Look at the some of the examples: Vietnam, Phillipines, Thailand and Kazakhstan in Asia, South Africa, Chad, Congo and Madagascar in Africa, Peru, Chile, Columbia and Bolivia in South America.
    The 27-nation EU has been in the vanguard of the movement to recognise the rights of LGBT (lesbians, gays, bixesuals and transgenders). France has the distinction of legalising homosexuality way back in 1791, as a sequel to its famous revolution. Its neighbour, England, lifted the ban much later in 1967. In the four decades that have lapsed since then, India has however shown little signs of doing away with the colonial relic of Section 377 IPC.
Homophobic nations include Pak, Uganda, Tanzania and Sierra Leone Those which order death for homosexuals are hardline Islamic nations like Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, Yemen, Afghanistan, Sudan, Mauritania and parts of Nigeria India only one out of the BRIC group (Brazil, Russia, India and China) to punish homosexuality
    Even Nepal, ravaged by political turmoil, turned gay-friendly in December 2007
    Even nations like Vietnam, Phillipines, Thailand & Kazakhstan in Asia, Chad, Congo & Madagascar in Africa, Peru, Chile, Columbia & Bolivia in S America have legalised homosexuality


So what if you’re gay? For mum, son still shines

Shreya Roy Chowdhury | TNN

New Delhi: When Harvard graduate Nishit Saran “came out”, he recorded the moment for the world to see. In his short film, Summer in My Veins (1999), he falteringly admits to his mother he’s gay and has ‘been with men’. His mother looks a little taken aback; she lights a cigarette, calms herself and assures her son that nothing has changed. In those few minutes, Nishit caught on film a response that every homosexual probably wishes for when he or she comes out to a parent: acceptance and a spontaneous offering of love and support.
    Few get it but they are the fortunate ones. “I’d read about homosexuality in the papers” but never “expected it to come into the house,” says Smitha, mother of Sunil, a 26-year-old, Chennai-based activist who came out three years ago. Sunil had just registered for PhD and announced that he wanted to specialize in queer studies. Reason: he was gay and “wanted to do something for gays”. Smitha may not have been prepared, but she refused to flip out. “I told him we will always love and support him and he is never to talk about leaving home again,” she says. Sunil’s ‘friends’, are welcome: “If he selects a good partner, we’ll accept. He’s a good human being, God will look after him.”
    Nita’s son, Anuj, came out so long ago that she doesn’t even remember the circumstances. She felt “empathy”. “I felt bad that he’d been forced to keep it all to himself,” she says. Accepting him was never an issue. “Homosexuality is like being left-handed, one of the things that can happen in life.”
    ‘Coming out’ does not imply a public revelation. Children may come out to their parents—often to counter pressure for marriage—but extended family and society-at-large are kept out. So the immediate family fields questions that the boy or girl previously handled alone. “I’ve been asked when he’ll get married; relatives and friends may have guessed but we don’t discuss these things with them,” says Smitha.
    Not all parents handle the revelation with equanimity. Counselors say for most, it’s guilt and shock, pujas and prayers, followed by grudging acceptance that jostles with hope that their children will become ‘normal’ again. “Mothers feel they have done something wrong if the child turns out to be homosexual. Fathers don’t want friends and relatives to know. Both want their children married in the hope that sexual encounter with the opposite sex will fix them,” says Magdalene Jeyarathnam, Chennai-based counsellor of parents of homosexuals. She’s handling nearly one new case every week of parents trying to come to terms with their child’s sexual orientation. She recalls the case of a couple whose own relationship was souring after their son’s coming out. They blamed each other till the son suggested counselling. Jeyarathnam also says that the sons and daughters, fearing the worst, admit to their sexuality only when they can fend for themselves.
    Though the number of lesbians coming to her is far fewer the ones who do come out are more easily accepted than gays. It is the sons who bear the burden of parental expectations. A gay son who can’t perpetuate the family line seems not adequate return on investment made in his upbringing and education.
    The weight of his parents’ ambitions is what keeps 26 year-old Sutirtho Ganguly from coming out. He is an only child and parents want the ‘normal’ life for him. His is the dillemma that the entire homosexual community in the country faces.
    (Some names have been changed)



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