The Ruling Party is not homophobic, and other lies you’ve been toldBeUnic
Who you vote for and who you love don’t always converge. Your sexuality & your political leanings do not have to be dependent on each other. While identity politics might be a game that is played in the huts and mansions of democracy, in a country as diverse as India, political opinions and preferences are varied and are often unrelated solely to one’s sexual orientation.
Members of the community in our country cannot be easily categorized as left or right & progressive or conservative. Most of us aren’t single-issue voters and our politics should not be reduced to our sexuality.
Having said that, an argument is often made that the ruling government is supportive of queer rights to a certain extent. This argument whether at parties or on social media, often includes the SC verdict related to article 377. Instead of pointing fingers, here’s some data put into context for all of us. Data doesn’t lie, all the claims here have been well researched, and we simply want to start a conversation & refute the idea that we have a ruling party in the central government that is sympathetic to the LGBTQIA+ community.
To begin with the latest example, Solicitor General Mr. Tushar Mehta, speaking on behalf of the Central Government, told the Delhi High Court on 14th September 2020, that same-sex marriages are neither a part of our culture not a part of our law.
Now if you’re a member of the LGBTQIA+ community this attitude or language is unfortunately not new or surprising to most. Considering most of us have faced similar & frankly far worse rhetoric in our lives.
However, the statement does set back a supposedly “progressive” nation whose apex court had just struck down a pre-colonial anti-LGBTQ law two years ago.
It is important then to note that the representative of the central government in front of the most important court in our land, reiterated what has been obvious all along.
That no matter what 6th September 2018 might have done for LGBTQI+ individuals in our country, the BJP and it’s allies, still consider their existence and their legitimization against the so-called ‘Indian Culture’. Roughly translated for those of us who refuse to admit the obvious, that statement is the ruling party of the country admitting and proclaiming it’s homophobia.
It wouldn’t be unfair to say that had they opposed the reading down of 377, in 2018, perhaps by making a new law, did not happen due to the fear of the significant national & international uproar it would have caused. Yet instances of members of the BJP and their political and ideological allies expressing homophobia are not uncommon.
Even the Prime Minister, whose office maintains a well-curated social media presence, did not so much as mention the historic decision in September 2018. A Swacch Bharat related tweet was instead put out.
The ideologues, the RSS, however, made a statement that in short stated that while homosexuality isn’t a crime, it isn’t natural either. (As if we haven’t heard that before, eh!?)
Now, we don’t want to repeat the oft used argument about how instances of various sexualities and sexual behaviours can be found in the art and mythology of India. Mr. Devdutt Pattanaik does that far more eloquently, but it is telling the argument has now been repeated enough for it to be obvious for most of us.
Another prominent member of the BJP, Dr. Subramanian Swamy has readily declared homosexuality to be against Hindutva. The current Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath has called it against our culture. Statements such as these have been the tip of the iceberg for the BJP.
Back in 2013, after Supreme Court upheld section 377, the current Defense Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh made a statement revealing the party’s stance to be unambiguously in support of the discriminatory law.
In 2018, Late Mrs. Sushma Swaraj clearly remarked that the BJP would have an interim meeting that would discuss bringing a law in place for the criminalization of homosexuality, rather than making any remark about the apex court’s judgement (lest they want to incur a one rupee fine).
The current ruling party has proven itself to be an election-winning machine in the last few years. This has however come at the cost of there being a radicalized audience, instead of informed populous.
To their audience that is largely socially conservative, the idea of same-sex relationships feels odd, different, something ‘queer’. This feeling has been accentuated and given a voice and validation by the comments of influential leaders such as the Late Mrs. Swaraj, Mr. Singh, Dr. Swamy and Mr. Adityanath.
One of the few voices from the BJP that expressed their acceptance for LGBTQIA+ citizens was that of the late Mr. Arun Jaitley, however, even when he gave that statement, he qualified it by stating that this was his personal opinion & was not the opinion of the party.
No tribunals ever sat for either Mr. Swamy or Mr. Adityanath no advisory was ever installed, they continue to be ministers, governing the very LGBTQIA+ communities they consider agains their culture & nature.
Toxic masculinity runs rampant in India and is arguably at its militant peak now. This militarism is one of the many by-products of the policies & statements of the current ruling party & its allies. These things are a threat to the LGBTQ community, who isn’t merely threatened by discrimination but actual physical violence.
For a government that can’t see its own citizens as natural or a part of the culture, to preach unity is hypocritical. It was unkind, unfortunate & prejudiced for the members of the ruling party to make such statements about the LGBTSQIA+ community back then. It remains so today.
It doesn’t matter if your political, economic & moral values align with BJP and it’s allies or with a member of the opposition. If you find someone insisting that the ruling party had something to do with the reading down of 377 in 2018, or if you come across someone that insists that the BJP is not homophobic, show them this piece.
In a time where not all of us are equal or free, everything is political, and we cannot say our sexuality exists in a vacuum. Being a well-informed citizen is our responsibility & as far as BJP and the LGBTQIA+ community is concerned, the data doesn’t lie, the BJP is not an ally.
Unmesh Uttaraa Nandkumar and Amitoj Singh