Progress Takes a Step Back

As a child I was taught to recite out aloud the fundamental rights offered to me as an Indian citizen in school. I sat alongside my classmates; children from different faiths, different castes, different upbringing, but united in the common grounds of belonging to a country that taught us that we were all equal in the eyes the laws of our country. That we shared the same rights. After all, it was to achieve this freedom of choice and dignity of life that our people fought and paid for so dearly during our struggle for independence.

Fundamental Right #1

Right to equality, including equality before law, prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, and equality of opportunity in matters of employment, abolition of untouchability and abolition of titles.

 

But this week, this sentence became mere words. This sentence that has been taught to us so that we could understand and appreciate the beauty of the law that offered us the freedom to live the life of our own choice has become a farce.

India was hailed as having made a landmark step forward in 2009 when the Delhi High Court ruled in favor of decriminalizing homosexual acts. I celebrated alongside all the people of my country who believed that prosecuting people on the basis of sexual choice that are consensual was a sin and that it went against every law of equality and freedom. But it seems that my country isn’t willing to take a stand of righteousness. Instead it has allowed itself to sink into backwardness, cowardice, discrimination and a blatant disregard for equality and freedom.

I grew up without having to worry about my orientation. I could fall in love, get married, have a family, and no one would bat an eye lid. I had the freedom of choice which everyone celebrated. Was it because I was an extraordinary citizen who brought laurels to her society and country? No. It was simply based on the fact that I was heterosexual. I had the right to be happy, a very basic right of every human being. Or so you would think. And now, there will be many like me, growing up with the same desires of wanting love, family, happiness and celebration, all being denied of this basic right just because they have a different sexual orientation. Are they robbers stealing other people’s belongings? Are they murderers claiming lives? Are they rapists violating human dignity? Are they pedophiles committing vile acts of horror? No, they are human beings like me, trying to live a life of their own choice, hurting no one, coercing no one. But being attacked, cornered and stolen from based on the fact that they have a different choice.  They might have had a better chance at a free life were they robbers, murderers, rapists or pedophiles because our society seem to prefer these groups of human beings over honest, happy, socially conscious, but gay, human beings.

Is this the heritage I pass to my children? Is this the heritage passed to me? Is this what my people fought and sacrificed lives for? For acts that deny courtesy and respect to other human beings?

Today I am ashamed to be a citizen that is part of a system of such inhuman laws.

I hope tomorrow brings changes.

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