Shwetha is among 30-plus people who turned up at Cubbon Park, Bangalore to celebrate Indian Coming Out Day. “Three years ago, the Supreme Court decriminalized LGBT community. So, we’ve been releasing balloons to signify Indian Coming Out Day. Last year, we didn’t use a mask. This time, we tied our masks to balloons before releasing them, showing that the community is ready to come of the closet,” said Samuel Konnur.
But this celebration is just a beginning in their efforts to enter mainsteam society. “Many don’t understand what lesbians, gays or transgenders feel because they live by what society has handed to them. Most of my friends accept me the way I am since they are educated. But there’s a vast ocean of orthodox people who need to be educated about us,” said Guru.
The LGBT community celebrated the day to show the world they are proud of their identity. “We don’t want to lead dual lives. Tying our masks to balloons signified that we don’t want to be in the closet anymore,” said Arnav.
Although there was cheer in the air, tension over the Supreme Court verdict on the LGBT community was prevalent. “I hope the verdict is positive. But, with processions even in small cities like Thrissur, Madurai and Patna, the community is certainly on its way to gain equal status,” said Shwetha.
THE BATTLE AHEAD In 2009, the Supreme Court decriminalized intimate lives of the lesbian, gay and transgender community which was construed against the laws of nature. But after the ruling, 15 appeals were filed by Hindu, Muslim and Christian organizations to counter the judgment. Contesting these appeals, 18 parents of LGBT members appealed to retain the decriminalization, saying it could be a huge threat to family peace otherwise. Fourteen mental health professionals said it makes no sense to criminalize homosexuality for it is as natural as being left-handed, blue-eyed or red-haired. Eighteen teachers, too, supported the appeal, contending that it’s a struggle for a wider democratic nation. The Supreme Court heard them out in March and April this year and we hope the judgment is in tune with constitutional aspirations for an equal society. - Aravind Narrain, Lawyer.