Most of the major political parties – including the Congress, the Left and even the JD(U) – have come out against the SC verdict on Section 377 of the IPC. But the TOI reports that the BJP has “mostly stayed mum”. For a party that loves rushing to the TV cameras at every small opportunity, this silence speaks volumes about where it stands on social issues.
Some of the seniormost ministers in the UPA government made statements supporting the rights of individuals to decide what they should do inside their bedrooms, provided it was consensual. Kapil Sibal is reported as being in the mood to change the law “it is the prerogative of the SC under the Constitution to test the constitutionality of a law. They are exercising their prerogative. We have the prerogative to make laws. We shall exercise our prerogative”. TOI reports Jairam Ramesh as saying “the SC ruling is retrograde and there should be no bar on relationships between consenting adults of the same sex”. Other ministers have chipped in as well. The TOI reports “Hours after the verdict, MoS home R P N Singh tweeted, “In my personal opinion, the state should not interfere in two consenting adults’ private lives.” In his official response to the media, Singh said, “Manish Tewari has already clarified that government intends to decriminalize Section 377”.
The Attorney General has also said that “The AG, G E Vahanvati, had argued that a group of ministers which looked into the issue relating to the constitutionality of Section 377 IPC had recommended that there was no error in the HC order. In other words, the government didn’t have a problem with the decriminalization of gaysex”.
Likewise, Brinda Karat of the CPM and Shivanand Tiwari of the JD(U) have reportedly called the ruling “retrograde”. I would normally expect the CPM to take a progressive stand on social issues, but even the JD(U)? That’s welcome. What about the main opposition party, the one bearing the Hindutva flag? Well, like I wrote earlier, the BJP has stayed “mostly mum”. Why has Arun Jaitley not commented on this at all on his website? Why has Sushma Swaraj not taken a stand? Why is the party’s PM candidate not speaking in favor of, or against, this issue that has the liberal sections of the country up in a revolt? The fact is that the BJP has always been retrograde on social issues, and this is just one more piece of evidence.
Expectedly, Baba Ramdev, who is part and parcel of the BJP (remember his spends on his speeches attacking the Congress were added to the BJP’s poll spends by the Election Commission?), has said “I invite all homosexual brothers and sisters to come to Patanjali Yogapeeth where they will be housed in separate rooms and taught yoga morning and evening. Homosexuality is just a bad habit that’s hard to get rid of but not impossible”. “Bad habit” my foot. It’s just a matter of personal choice. Equally, fundamentalist religious leaders have common the same page as Ramdev and said pretty much the same thing. This includes the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, who has called it a “disease imported from Europe”. Catholic Archdiocese spokesperson Father Dominic Emmanuel said, “The Catholic church respects people with different orientation, but does not accept same sex marriage as it is against god’s plan.” God’s plan? At the time God existed, maybe people didn’t want to have gay sex. Society evolves right? But the religious leaders stay in the dogmatic past.
My point is that religious leaders are expected to behave in a certain old fashioned way. Even large sections of the society will often behave in the same way. But shouldn’t those with the powers to liberalize society take a more progressive stand? Imagine what would happen if the media also supported the SC’s view and wrote against individual preference and choice? That would be disastrous for a society wanting to propel itself into the future right? In the same way, shouldn’t our politicians take a more determined and progressive stand on social issues? What if untouchability had not been abolished until now? Wouldn’t that have made India a regressive society? In the same way, why does the BJP not speak for a more progressive society? A society in which matters of religion and belief are confined inside the home, and a more progressive, more secular, attitude is professed outside? The TOI reports that some 100+ countries have already allowed gay sex. Why then does the BJP not attack the SC order?
Remember the allegations against Asaram Bapu about rape? There also, Sushma Swaraj had merely said “the law will take its own course”. Why then did the BJP create such a ruckus when the Tarun Tejpal case broke? Why does the BJP have such double standards? Equally, Narendra Modi failed to act against Asaram Bapu when two boys were found murdered in his Ashram. When it comes to sadhus and sants and regressive views, the BJP is right at the forefront!
The real truth is that the BJP has always been socially regressive. It has always failed the young, the liberal, the more progressive sections of society. It’s time it changed its dogmatic views….