Homophobia is bigotry. This simple, modern fact eludes us. It eludes us because we are hostage to an ugly symphony of Colonial laws and Bronze Age myths. Once we accept this, what has to be done becomes clear: homophobia must be abolished to the same dark annals of history to which slavery and the caste system belong.
But before erasing homophobia, which even in an ideal world will rear it’s ugly head occasionally (such is its universal appeal), we must first get rid of homophobic laws. Consider this barbarism: Unnatural offences.—Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. This is section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, left behind by the British as an ever-giving gift to every homophobic and bigoted moron who staggers through the corridors of power. The British obviously conjured up this nonsense from the tome of Judeo-Christian belief that explicitly decries homosexuality: Leviticus 18:22 - Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. It’s terrifying enough that this appears in a religious text, thus giving millions of religious people the mandate to go ahead and hate every homosexual who every existed or who will ever exist(and what kind of a God will He be if He doesn’t keep creating homosexuals who He can then condemn to a life of sin), but the British, with their customary Imperial crassness carved it into law and made it really serious. Now it doesn’t matter if you subscribe to a Bronze Age text or not: if you penetrate a bum, even if it is a consensual, private, and deeply loving penetration you are a criminal who can be thrown in jail for ten years.
Not only the bum: this Colonial crumb left behind by the British can apparently apply to any bodily orifice except the vagina. Here’s an excerpt from the website lawyerscollective.org: Lacking precise definition, Section 377 became subject to varied judicial interpretation over the years. Initially covering only anal sex, it later included oral sex and still later, read to cover penile penetration of other artificial orifices like between the thighs or folded palms. The law made consent and age of the person irrelevant by imposing a blanket prohibition on all penile-non-vaginal sexual acts under the vague rubric of ‘unnatural offences’. (By the way, it doesn’t mention fruits: are we all free to penetrate watermelons?)
The ‘rubric of ‘unnatural offences’’ might be a vague one, but the idea of what is and isn’t natural in this context comes from religion. The Western world has largely gotten over the foolishness of taking religious ideas seriously–thus separating religion from State– but we are stuck with the worst of it, as law.
And we have it even worse: the law came from the religion of our occupiers who are no longer here, yet their religion remains, and not only their religion but a gaggle of other religions who are all charmingly hateful of gays. So what happens is this: every time somebody tries to repeal this piece of discriminatory and hateful (and probably unconstitutional) law, the religious descend with their beards, robes, and trishuls and create a racket that reverberates through the chambers of every well-meaning judge and every television studio across the country.
Their objections are as old as their religions: It is unnatural, it is sinful, our religion does not allow it. Ok, let your religion dictate to you whom to love, but why do you want it in a law that applies to everyone? Well, because the mandate of religion is universal of course and because every religious bigot wants their religion enshrined in law so that they may bully everyone else. We must stop listening to this clammer at once.
For the millions of gay people in our country this is a question of basic human rights: the right to live with dignity, the right to do what they like in the privacy of their homes and the right to feel like a part of the society for which they do so much without the foreboding that at anytime the law can come knocking.
The only way we can clearly see the implications and gravity of these questions is to remove the fog of religion that obscures them. Homosexuality, and in fact anything the religious don’t like, will always offend their ‘religious sentiments’. We will probably never change their minds, but to remove the legal ammunition for their frequent homophobic attacks we must stop listening to every religious nut-bag, scumbag, flea bag or douche bag who manages to push his way into a courtroom or TV studio.