Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Homosexuals in India

When the president of Iran (a loudmouth paralleled only by the current American leadership as a purveyor of religious and bellicose rhetoric) was asked a question about the mistreatment of Homosexuals in Iran while speaking at Columbia university exactly a year ago, his response as "there are no homosexuals in Iran".

I am positive that if Dr. Manmohan Singh were asked the same question he would give an equally ludicrous response if he is in agreement with the stinking pile of manure his home ministry is defending in India. Men having sex with men (gays are called MSMs in India) is illegal in India. There are an estimated 22 million felons in India - a popuplation the size of Australia - if one wants to keep count.

While the relatively progressive Ministry of health wants to legalize homosexuality (aided by the courts in India - which satirically recommend banning sexual intercourse in resonse to the Home ministry's contention that Homosexualily helps spread AIDS), the home ministry (which in my opinion should be spending most of its time trying to fight terror in cities and stopping stampedes in temples) wants to keep it illegal. This is the stupidest thing I have heard in a long while.

With ~ 22 million homosexual men (and at least half as many homosexual women in India), I think it is high time that some pragmatism takes precedence. What to me is disconcerting is that the government at the center is actually a left on center government. If the real conservatives come into power (say a Modi or an Uma Barthi), things will get only get much, much worse.

Of course, I understand that the country is too poor to be socially liberal - and I understand that expecting any socially liberal reform is asking for too much from some of the poorest and least educated people on the planet. But these are injustices which ought to be corrected. I am writing this piece not with the hope of seeing liberalization of Indian society in the immediate future. I understand that it is a long journey - but a journey of a thousand miles (1600km) starts with a single step. Hell, even the richest nations on the planet (such as the US) have leaders who are homophobic.

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