Wednesday, 7 May 2014

A Curative Petition

A Curative Petition

My favourite Indian author, Vikram Seth, perhaps best known for his epic novel, A Suitable Boy, said this last year:

'You may as well be yourself because really there is no one else you can be. We are here for such a ridiculously short time in this ridiculously trivial corner of the universe that if we aren't ourselves, what's the point of doing anything at all? So I would say in all matters, whether it's your profession, whether it's your beliefs or the person you love, you must go at heart with who you are. Not what someone else tells you, not what your clan tells you, not even what an unjust law tells you.'

In the same speech, he also made this simple but powerful statement: 

'Intolerance is violence. And accepted intolerance is violence with the acquiescence of the society.'

In December 2013, homosexuality was criminalized in India under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. I talked a bit about the dangers of such a law in Let's talk about sexual health? earlier this year. An Indian friend who worked on the 'reading down' of section 377 a few years ago in New Delhi wrote to me recently to tell me that a curative petition is now going to be heard by the Indian Supreme Court. This is an appeal heard in extreme cases of misjudgment and a chance for the Supreme Court to turn things around. You can read about it here.

A curative petition is a small step with the potential to make a big change, and a step taken in one country, through one legal system, that can send a message of hope to those who are persecuted worldwide. Homosexuality is illegal in eighty-two countries and punishable by death in the Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and most recently, Uganda

It is a very positive sign that The Indian Supreme Court is hearing this petition, especially following the Court's unexpected recognition of a third gender earlier this month, a breakthrough for advocates of sexual minority rights. You can read more about it here

For a powerful documentary about the world's ever-changing response to homosexuality, and global observations of corrective prison sentences, corrective rape, and corrective therapy, I highly recommend Stephen Fry's two-year journey with the BBC, Out There. You can watch both episodes here if you like.

Thanks for reading. If you have friends living in countries affected by the criminalization of homosexuality, why not share this with them? 

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful quote to introduce a brave topic. Cannot believe that 'corrective' and 'rape' would ever be used in the same sentence...