“Angrej chale gaye par IPC 377 chod gaye”
(The British left our country (India) but left behind IPC 377)
The infamous texts of IPC section 377 can trace its origins to the Parliament of England’s ‘Buggery Act of 1533’
The law criminalised “buggery” which was defined as “unnatural sexual acts against the will of God and man”.
What is more interesting to note is that this law was abolished by the British and homosexuality was decriminalised by the ‘Sexual offences Act 1967’.
If you aren’t weak at math, you may have deduced that India is dealing with the same thing….just 50 odd years later. But how? why ? how?
With the arguments that have swung the verdict of decriminalisation of IPC 377 from 2009 to 2013, it is clear to see that our country is sitting on the primitive fence of denial. Here’s what Britain did when faced with the problem-
By the end of world war II there had been a serious increase in the prosecutions of homosexuals and a shocking number of 1,069 men in prison for “unnatural sex”. You had Lord Montagu, an esteemed Baron and politician being arrested for being gay, Peter Wildeblood- a famous writer coming out and many more sensational cases catching the public’s eye. This is what led a country to question- was there really something in the closet?
The image is a newspaper cutting from the time with pictures of the accused in cases of buggery.
A committee was set up to consider prostitution and homosexual offences. It consisted of various professionals and experts such as a psychiatrist, a vice president of the largest women’s organisation in the UK, a public prosecutor, a reverend who was a professor at Oxford University along with other doctors, MP’s and a solicitor. The committee was chaired by Lord Wolfenden and the report they submitted after their lucubrations is known as the ‘Wolfenden Report’.
It goes down in the history of UK’s LGBTQIA community as it recommended that, homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be criminalised.
To the prevailing apocryphal such as being homosexual was a ‘disease’, the report confirmed stating, “Homosexuality cannot legitimately be regarded as a disease because in many cases it is the only symptom and is compatible with full mental health in other respects.”
The recommendations eventually led to the Sexual offences Act 1967 but it only became a law ten years later when the report was published.
The law that governs us today ( IPC 377) dates back to 1861 when India was under the British rule. We probably could use a committee like the one mentioned above, maybe India could finally look into it’s closet and clean out archaic cobwebs (roughly 167 year old).
Yes I’ll stop with the closet puns.
To learn more about India’s struggle with IPC 377 – https://comeoutindia.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/ipc-377-the-argument-spanning-over-2-decades/