India: op-ed Why are we afraid of gays?

When Manabi Bandopadhyay became India's first transgender principal of a Kolkata college, we praised it as a gender-sensitive revolution. However, same-sex marriage in India remains a criminal offence. The attitude of the mainstream society, including political parties towards the Queer Pride March organised by Queer Pride Keralam in Thiruvananthapuram is a reflection that we are a homophobic society. 

There is high level of prejudice against homosexuality in the state though we claim to be progressive. The role of so-called progressive movements should be blamed for this, says P Surendran, who has exhaustively studied the issue of the third gender and the hijada community in the country . "While we cannot expect Gandhians to support such social realities, the communists too have failed to address the rights of LGBT community because they are afraid of such micro narratives," he says. "When you analyse society in terms of class struggle, you cannot comprehend the essence of gender identity and your thinking will end up being monolithic," he explains. 

It is a reality that homosexuals and transgender are prevalent in rural areas but they are afraid of coming out of the closet. Even Malayali women who openly declare their sexual identity abroad are afraid of doing so in their own native place. If we fail to recognize homosexuality as a social reality, which is genetically determined, the society, including police, will keep on hunting homosexuals.  Read More