news Monday, November 03, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute | October 29, 2014 | 7.50 pm IST Bangalore police arrested a man after his wife lodged a complaint with the police alleging that her husband was gay, and that his parents knew it, but still got him married to her.  The police will investigate her allegations, but if the woman’s allegations are found to be true, then a man will have been imprisoned for being unable or unwilling to act freely on his sexual orientation. In short, he could not or did not freely choose his partner. Instead, he married a woman, who has now sought legal redress for her grievance. The woman’s predicament reflects deeply rooted discomfort that much of Indian society has with sexuality, and homosexuality in this case. There are various examples of people, both ordinary and socially or politically prominent, doing or saying things which reflect their bias or conservatism with regard to sexuality, and love. If this man in Bangalore succumbed to social pressure and married a woman when he knew that he was not heterosexual, then a part of the blame lies with society for putting the woman through such an ordeal.  Irrespective of education levels, social backgrounds, ages, there is a large section of Indian society which is deeply uncomfortable with homosexuality, and simply cannot accept that a person may be homosexual, and that it is all right be homosexual.  There has been a huge and rather public campaign to gather support to de-criminalize homosexual sex. It is a shame that the man still felt unable or was unwilling to refuse a marriage with a heterosexual woman, when it could have been avoided.  The law is a set of general principles which are interpreted when people come forward with grievances. In this case, provisions relating to unnatural sex, and cheating have been applied to the woman’s complaint. Now, the man finds himself arrested on charges of having unnatural sex – the woman had hidden cameras installed around the house and submitted the recordings to the police.  Member of the Coalition for Sexual Workers and Minorities Rights L Romal M Singh said that homosexual people faced an immense amount of pressure from their families. “We are always scared, there is a fear of rejection, even violence, ” he says. Despite this, he says people can always choose to be open about their sexuality and reject a marriage or delay it.  “If you somehow feel that as a gay man you cannot avoid getting married to a woman, then at least give her the life she has the right to have,” Singh said.  Saying that marriage was a personal relationship between two people, he added that gay men needed to be open about their sexual orientation not just because of legal implications, but also so that they did not ruin another person’s life. “Once the marriage happens, the family will wash their hands off of it, it is the spouse who suffers,” he says.  If a woman finds out her husband is gay, then the man often ends up being punished for being gay under Section 377 instead of being punished for being a “terrible husband” or for cheating his wife. Then, the man ends up with the tag of an “offending homosexual” for his whole life, which is what he tried to avoid in the first place, Singh says. Even more important than the legal implications of not being open about sexual orientations is the need to understand one’s sexual orientation. “We must also learn to be proud of who we are, because otherwise we cannot even hope for the possibility that our families will accept us,” Singh says, adding that if gay people agreed to marry women, then “our families will think that our sexuality is not important to us.”

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