Northeastern LGBTQ community demand freedom from Section 377 on Independence Day


On the 70th year of India's Independence, we stand with pride and do not fail to recall the contributions of our freedom fighters whom we owe our freedom to. Though we may have attained Independence from the 200-yr-old British raj, how free are we in our Independent India? This is a question that looms within the minds of every Indian not only on August 15th, but almost every single day of their lives.

On this day, a large section of  the LGBTQ community as well as their supporters from Northeast India have come up to voice their concern against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. It may be mentioned that Chapter XVI, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code dating back to 1860 was introduced during the British rule in India and criminalizes sexual activities "against the order of nature", arguably including homosexual.  1860-2016, the battle goes on and yet the members of the LGBTQ are unable to walk free with their heads held high on the streets of India.

Neysara Rai, founder of opines, "Gandhi once said that he would consider India truly independent when a women can walk freely on a midnight street, trans-women can not walk freely without being called names or being judged even in broad daylight, how do we call ourselves independent ? We have to live under the cover of being sis to be respected in the society, how are we independent ? "

"I am gay and Indian and I couldn't be prouder of our achievements as a free and independent country. Even though India still has a long way to go in terms of LGBT rights, I am confident that good days will come. Our Constitution promises us equality and dignity and we will keep fighting till that promise is fulfilled", says Abhishek from Guwahati who is openly gay.

"The Supreme Court's ruling is a disappointing setback to human dignity, freedom and the basic rights to privacy and non-discrimination.So it is time for Section 377 to go, like we did away with Sati, with the custom of widows non remarriage, slavery, casteism and so many other uncivilized practices, we should do away with Section 377 and it is time to decriminalize homosexuality so as to clarify that India is an Independent country. And the Supreme Court is empowered to do it", Priyakanta Laishram, Film-Maker & LGBT Activist says.

"We talk about India's Independence, 69 years since India freed itself from British Rule and it's countrymen got their right to live a free life. But can we actually call it freedom in the true sense? Are we really independent? Can we talk about the freedom of the so-called low class people in India? The Dalits, the tribals? The minorities, the LGBT community at large? Can we talk about the freedom women of India? India can be truly and completely free the day we get answers to all these questions, and that day we can sincerely wish each other a Happy Independence Day!", asks Namarata, a member of XUKIA,  a queer collective based in Assam, India that works for LGBT issues in the region.

"The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. May this 70th independence day brings love, equality and justice. Wishing all the citizen of the country a happy independent country for Transgender persons and their entitlements too. Wishing all the citizen of the country a happy independence day and mark the beginning of an independent country for TG persons and and their entitlements too", views Sandra Nandeibam from Manipur, an upcoming transgender model.

The members of LGBTQ community from all walks of life have come together on this day to voice their concern and to tell the world in general and fellow Indians in particular how we are still slaves to the British raj that seemd to have only superficially ended.

" Independence Day. 70 years of Independence. Independence from the British. But I have always wondered if in real manner we are independent. No doubt we were successful in regaining power over our own country and driving away the people from a different country but what have we done as a nation for our own people? We are still goverend by the laws of caste and class, religion and ethnicity, gender and sexuality. We are still the slaves of the laws of he British era. We still have Section 377 governing us. A whole section of our population live in the abject fear of being killed just because the British law saw them as 'criminals'. If we are still operating on the laws laid down by the British, how do we call ourselves independent? How do we proudly say that we have completed 70 years of driving the British away from our land when the law of the land is still governed by the thought processes of the then British? I do not believe we are independent still. Maybe superficially we are. But we are still slaves to the laws of the British, to the discrimination meted out to the people in the basis of gender, caste, sexuality, ethnicity, culture. I believe we will be truly independent only when we drive out all these from our country. Till then we are still not independent in real terms", says a Panromantic who believes love has no barrier.

Lets breed love this Independence Day, lets sow the seeds of equality and acceptability, of respect and humility, lets choose to make ourselves free from all vices and make the India a better one for the downtrodden, the unaccepted and the refused. Lets choose to make our society free from Homophobia and be independent in the truest sense.

By Shweta Raj Kanwar 

Representational image taken from internet sources