Being Samlaingik or Gay in India
To understand what it is like to be gay or samlaingik in India we have to look at the various aspects of Indian life. To understand the homosexuality in India we need to understand -
- The social beliefs.
- Their life style.
- The religious beliefs.
- The history of homosexuality.
- The culture of Indians.
- The British Influence
Being a samlaingik is not part of Indian culture any more. This in turn influence the homosexuality and way of living in India. Indian gay and samlaingik life and lifestyle is different. It’s based on whether you are a gay man or a lesbian woman. Being a gay Indian man is not an easy task due to various reasons. There is always pressure on you for getting married. You can not be openly gay and it’s hard to find sexual and life partners in India. Read more about being a Gay or Samlaingik man in India by clicking here. But being a gay Indian man is not half as difficult as being a gay or Lesbian woman in india. Women in India live a very controlled and sheltered life. They basically live under the thumb of men in their lives. Whilst they are young they follow orders of their father, brothers and other male relatives. On getting married they have to take orders and commands from their husbands, father-in-law and mother-in-law. So being a Lesbian or gay woman in India is really difficult. Read more about being a gay, lesbian or samlaingik woman by clicking here.
The Indian society doesn’t accept homosexuality and samlaingikta very easily. The society accepts close friendship and public display of affection among men and women. You can see Indian men walking hand in hand. You can also see them resting their head in their friend’s lap. It all seems very gay but it is not. These men are not Gay by default. They can be just good friends. So you have to tread very carefully. Kissing is not socially acceptable for gay or straight couples. So you should refrain from kissing in public.
The society is coming to terms with the new law. Very slowly. There was even some resistance to this new law. By the extremist Hindu political party. Having the law doesn’t really change the social perception of homosexuality. There are not that many gay references in Hindi movies or Indian television. There is no “Will & Grace”, “Six Feet Under”, or programs like that which are based on gay characters. There have been few Hindi (Indian) movies with Gay or HIV and AIDS theme but they are few and far between. Thankfully young Kids are watching HBO and StarTV. They are getting to see all these American Sitcoms. Which in some way is broadening their thinking. I remember asking a young kid once what his favourite TV program was. He said “Will & Grace”. I was thrilled to hear that.
History of Indian Homosexuality
India has travelled from one spectrum of homosexuality to another. Unfortunately for the worse. In the days of Kamasutra being gay and having gay sex was normal and accepted by society. India reached the extreme (partly thanks to the British) of making homosexuality illegal. Being a samlaingik become a punishable crime in India. Being samlaingik as the name suggest is a natural act. Liking some one similar to you. It never was a crime. Should not be a crime. It’s not a crime any more. Thank God. Thanks to Naz Foundation too.
India is the country where Kamasutra originated. One of the oldest and most sensual text book of Sex. It’s not only a sex manual but it’s a guide and teachings on living life fully. Kamasutra is believed to be composed between 400 BC and 200 AD. We can argue that India has gone backward in terms of sexual liberation and acceptance of differences in sexuality and sexual preferences. In Kamasutra we can see not only gay and lesbian sexual acts but also orgies, group sex and act of sex as a pleasurable event. Something in which every one participated and enjoyed. Samlaingik and samlaingikta was not a thing to be ashamed about.
king and his men
Life after the Kamasutra didn’t change much. Over last 2000 years India has been ruled by various Kings and Badshahs. They all had their own likings and disliking. The country was divided in many small states and each state had their own laws. The rich always got away with murder and no body cared about what the poor were doing. So the middle class carried the burden of morality. And nothing had changed since then. Middle class is still bearing the cross of morality in India.
British arrived in India in late 1700s. They came as a company ( East India Company) and started their occupation of India in 1757 after the Battle of Plassey. The Company rule in India lasted till 1858. In 1857 India had their first Freedom Fight. This forced Britain to take over control of India from East India Company. The Company was dissolved in 1874. During their occupation of India, British imposed their laws and regulations on India and Indians. One of these Law was anti-sodomy law. This law was not present in Indian history of codified or customary legal system before. This law a vestige of the British Raj, ( called Section 377), was enacted in 1861 in line with the anti-sodomy laws prevailing in England at the time. It states: Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment of either up to 10 years or life. So the punishment for anal sex, mutual masturbation or oral sex with a man, woman or animal was up to 10 years. First time in 1000s of years being a samlaingik become a crime in India.
The legislative history of the law is long. First records of sodomy as a crime at Common Law in England were chronicled in Fleta, 1290. Also in Britton, 1300. In both these texts it was prescribed that sodomites should be burnt alive. Acts of sodomy later became penalised by hanging under the Buggery Act of 1533. This act was re-enacted in 1563 by Queen Elizabeth I. This Buggery Act became the charter for the subsequent criminalisation of sodomy in the British Colonies. Oral sex was later removed from the definition of buggery in 1817. The death penalty for buggery was formally abolished in England and Wales in 1861. However, sodomy, anal sex or buggery remained as a crime “not to be mentioned by Christians”.
The English law was reformed in Great Britain by the Sexual Offences Act of 1967. This Act de-criminalised homosexuality. Acts of anal sex or sodomy between consenting adults (above the age of 21) were de-criminalised. The change was result of the report of Wolfenden Committee. The Committee advising the Parliament had recommended repeal of laws punishing homosexual conduct in 1957.
Samlaingikta after Independence
There is a saying in India – “The British left but they left their most faithful servant behind”. It’s a joke about how Indians haven’t been able to bring changes. They are still living under the British laws – Good, Bad & Ugly. The Good was the infrastructure, Indian railway, postal system, etc. The Bad is the bureaucracy, the administration system, the civil services. The Ugly is the laws like Section 377. These were imposed upon Indians and Indian culture without their choice or input.
The section 377 was taken to the court in 2001. It violated the fundamental right of life and liberty and the right to equality. Rights guaranteed by the constitution of India. So the law was finally read down by the Delhi High Court on July 2, 2009. In so far that it can no longer be applied to consensual sex between adults (of any gender) in private. This law had rarely been executed, if at all, in case of consenting adults. But it was a weapon in the hands of the corrupt Indian police. Police harassed Gay people when and where ever they could. With the law on their side they had an excuse to harass them for money or even sexual favours.