Originally Published on Monday, 16 December 2013 14:42
Several months ago, Sadhana co-founder Aminta Kilawan wrote the blog post “Hinduism and Homosexuality” highlighting the love and oneness so central to Sanatana Dharma, regardless of sexual orientation. Since then, much progress has been made for LGBTQ rights worldwide, including the United States Supreme Court’s ruling that a 1996 law denying federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples was unconstitutional. A few days ago however, a disgraceful backward step was taken as the India Supreme Court upheld Section 377 of its Penal Code and reversed a 2009 decision by the Delhi High Court. Introduced literally centuries ago by British colonial authorities, Section 377 prohibits homosexual activity in India.
The Delhi High Court previously declared that Section 377 was unconstitutional, stating:
If there is one constitutional tenet that can be said to be the underlying theme of the Indian Constitution, it is that of ‘inclusiveness.’ This court believes that the Indian Constitution reflects this value, deeply ingrained in Indian society, nurtured over several generations.The inclusiveness that Indian society traditionally displayed, literally inevery aspect of life, is manifest in recognizing a role in society for everyone.
This inclusiveness, so evident in the Indian constitution, is not just a legal tenet, but also a Hindu principle that is at the very core of our mission. That is why we are taking a firm stance against the ruling.
Since the ruling was announced, the Indian government, a party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, has been urged by the international community to comply with its self-admitted obligation to protect the fundamental rights of all individuals, including homosexuals. As a progressive faith group, we too demand that India meets its obligations.
Hinduism is very much steeped in human rights with its foundational principles of equality and respect. The Indian Supreme Courtruling is not just deeply offensive to the LGBTQ community worldwide, but toall those who hold social justice close to their hearts, including we atSadhana.
Sadhana urges that the Indian legislature counter the recent ruling by removing Section 377 from the Indian Penal Code. Allowing the Supreme Court ruling to stand is simply unacceptable. Action must be taken to rectify what has been a great wrong against not just those who identify as LGBTQ, but those who identify as a part of humankind.