The revocation of Colonial era Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, modelled on English Buggery Act, by the Supreme court bears a testament to the argument that acknowledgement of LGBT communities wouldn't hamper the diverse culture of India or the global society at large. Around the world gender equality is a well-known issue in contemporary society. Today, homosexuality and queer identities may be acceptable to more youths than ever before, but within the boundaries of family, home and school, acceptance of their sexuality and freedom to openly express their gender choices still remains a constant struggle for LGBTQ+ people.

Meaning of the acronym

LGBTQ+ is an abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals. These terms are used to explain a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • Lesbian - A woman who is physically, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to other women.
  • Gay - This term is used to describe people whose physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions are towards people of the same sex. In case of women, lesbian is the more preferred adjective.
  • Bisexual - A person who can form enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions towards those of the different gender or the same gender. At this point, it is pertinent to note that bisexual people need not have had any sexual experiences to be identified as a bisexual.
  • Transgender - An umbrella term for those whose gender expression/identity is at variance with that of the expressions associated with the sex at the time of birth. People under this umbrella may describe themselves using a wide range of terms— including transgender. It is crucial to note that a transgender identity is neither dependent on physical appearance nor on medical procedures.
  • Queer - A term used by those individuals whose sexual orientation is not an absolute heterosexuality. Normally, for those who identify themselves as queer, the other adjectives like lesbian, gay, and bisexual seem to be too constrained and subjected to specific connotations that they don’t wish to be associated with.

Discrimination and struggles faced


Global civil societies and human rights organizations have played a constructive role in destigmatizing LGBTQ+ people. Despite of this positive progress, the deep rooted homophobic mindset coupled with inappropriate legal safeguards against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, makes the LGBTQ+ communities highly vulnerable to inhumane violations of their human rights.

LGBTQ+ individuals, as members of sexual minority group are subjected to discrimination, intolerance, harassment and violence. Far away from gay pride parades, meet-ups and heated discussions on Twitter, some families have their own ways of dealing with LGBT individuals. In some parts, secret honor killings are planned so that the only way for a young gay man to survive is to run away in the cover of the night to some city, with no money or social support.

These individuals are often ostracized from many social safety structures such as medical care, justice and legal services, and education. As per a study, close to 30 percent of LGBTQ+ youth in the U.S. have been physically abused by family members because of their sexual orientation. Owing to the lack of means of support, these people are driven into the trap of anti-social activities that further pushes them onto the margins of the society.

Family Acceptance Project, suggests that more than half of the reactions of families towards their LGBT children are that of rejection. Many LGBTQ youth end up in juvenile detention or in foster care or on the pavements, because of family conflict related to their sexual identity . These factors have a serious impact on their mental health and self esteem. They are placed at a higher risk for HIV & AIDS and exposed to abuses in different forms.

Mental health issues are symptoms of discrimination. It is primarily due to social rejection and exclusion, that the LGBT community experiences higher rates of anxiety and substance use disorders and suicidal instances. Discrimination against the LGBTQ persons in the workplace contributes to the socioeconomic disparities. It directly leads to job instability and high turnover, resulting in greater frictional unemployment and poverty rates amongst this community. Additionally, specific groups within the LGBTQ community are disproportionately affected by discrimination. For instance, these individuals are specifically vulnerable to police ill treatment and misconduct; they are at a greater risk of being targeted than most of the white, heterosexual middle-class counterparts and often receive harsher sentencing. In most cases, LGBT individuals are not safeguarded legally from abusive and discriminatory action.

Why same sex relationships are considered as a Taboo?

The causes behind treating Homosexuality as a taboo dates back to antiquity. In early societies, the concept of same sex relationships were seen as against the order of nature. In a culture embedded with wide range of ritual practices, the sexual minorities were seen as those who fomented divine wrath. Such practices made it difficult for same sex relationships openly express their gender preferences while also making it a taboo.

This was supported by the Church which stated that 'homosexuals do not choose their condition, but argued nonetheless that same same relationships is sinful and that gays and lesbians should seek to lead chaste lives'. As a corollary, this interpretation led to same sex relationships being regarded as a taboo, particularly in societies dominated by religious authority.

The real unknown history

But is it really a 'disease/disorder' as some sections believe? History has a different answer unlike many. The truth is that the same sex relationships isn't a novel concept. It dates back to the period of Mahabharata, Ramayana and Vedas. Same sex relationship were prevalent then, until the East India Company brought up the Christian ideas of sin, conjugal love and straight or narrow. For instance, the Krittivas Ramayana details about two widows of King Dilipa who lived together in intense love or Samprati. The sage then named his child 'Bhagirath' since he was born from two Valvas.

Another popular text, Kamasutra in 4th century AD talks of pleasure in male-male unions. Bhakti saints in medieval era would often effeminise themselves to please gods( Vishnu & Shiva). Experts point out that it is true that such practices were not widely practiced, however they were not looked down upon. To further corroborate this example, until the 1800s some indian poets like Rangin & Insha did wrote literary pieces on same sex relationships, not to ignore,this wasn't written in a derided tone but a tone similar on normal heterosexual relationships.

Victorian authorities were gobsmacked at Indian literature's openness on issues of sexuality. It is ironic how the Englishmen vehemently called out Indian civilisation 'uncivilised' while in reality, Indian civilisation was way more progressive of its times. LGBTQ+ communities came to be regarded as 'against the order of nature' only in the colonial era. The Victorian idea of 'Homosexuality' became deeply engraved in Indian cultural system, which was met with disdain by upcoming generations & political groups. Thanks to the legal and social works that revived our rich history of 'Queer traditions'. This upscaled LGBTQ+ rights activism through mediums of cinema has been instrumental in destigmatizing same sex relationships. Celebrities are also explicitly expressing their sexual identity without any fear. They are no longer keeping their identities under wraps, which has in turn bolstered the self esteem of such communities by setting a strong example of their own life successes.

Hence, it is incorrect to say that only "heteronormative sexuality" constitutes the popular culture. Historical evidence proves the same. However, things aren't on a platter yet. Not even half of the global population acknowledges LGBTQ + individuals as a mainstream group. We must remember that it's the people who make the culture & not the culture that makes us.

Our collective valiant endeavors, beginning from our own acknowledgment of LGBTQ + people, should result in a desirable inclusive culture. 

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