India is showing signs of growing tolerance as its Supreme Court deliberates over whether to overturn Section 377, the country’s colonial-era anti-homosexuality law.
India’s CBFC film board gave a U/A label to the coming out drama Evening Shadows. That rating means parents can take their children to see it, if they choose to do so.
Director Sridhar Rangayan said he was thrilled a larger mainstream audience will have the opportunity to see it in theatrical and satellite release.
“Our main aim when we made the film was not only to reach out to the LGBTQ community, but also mainly to parents and families in small towns,” he said.
Hindustan Times kicked off a five-part series “Let’s Talk About 377” with an op-ed from celebrity chef and out lesbian Ritu Dalmia about being labeled a criminal for her sexuality. This is an excerpt:
According to the Indian Penal Code, people like me are guilty of “unnatural offences”. The law book, left behind by the British, tries to govern our lives through Section 377 and can imprison us for a term of life for “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”.
I am many things but I am not a criminal, and a coward I am not. I am a celebrated chef with seven restaurants around the world. I want to be known as a chef; not as a lesbian chef.
I have never been in the closet but I don’t feel the need to wear a T-shirt announcing my sexuality. My family and friends, who matter, know me for what I am. After a four-year stint in London, I returned to Delhi and decided to speak to my parents. My mother just went silent. Two days later, she sent a box of mangoes to my partner.
I am not an activist and have no desire to be one but I have now signed a petition seeking a review of a colonial-era law that criminalises consensual same-sex-relations between adults. I now believe none of us has the right to expect a change without doing our bit to bring about that change. A few years ago, I joined the gay pride in Delhi.
I have never been ashamed of my orientation, but now can’t bear the ways in which members from my community are discriminated against. The freedom to love is not just about sexuality, but how do you begin to explain that? We become vulnerable to blackmail and extortion by the police and even by domestic helps or drivers. The horrific section called 377 is used as a tool to scare and intimidate. What I do within my home should be my business. I am a worthy, tax-paying citizen like the rest of you.
This article is based on a recent UNAIDS Equal Eyes recap of the world’s LGBT news.