Interesting to me is that what is "against the order of nature" is really not explained. I assume that it refers to non-procreative sex. So no blowjobs or butt sex. Which is really not the sole domain of the homosexual. However in India it is used as a tool to marginalized men who have sex with men (funnily enough women who have sex with women are really not thought of when it comes to 377, I guess most people assume that what lesbians do is not "real sex," but I digress).
"Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine." (Explanation- Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.)
In India groups have been fighting to get 377 of the books for years. In all honesty, the battles really have not really gone anywhere, but this year there have been a couple of great wins for the against-377 camp. Namely:
(this is the National AIDS Control Organization telling government that 377 is in the way of good public health against HIV) - NACO readies action plan to help gays
(this one has 100 of India's best and brightest talk against 377) - Backing gay rights
But the question still remains, "even if the law is repealed, will society at large change their opinion about sexual minorities?" Let's be honest here, the US the alleged bastion of democracy of the world, still oppresses same-sex behavior.
Yes, the movement has to start somewhere, I don't argue that. But after working with sexual minorities in India for the past 6 months, I realized that for most of the vocal ones what they want is to be apart from society. Asking for things like separate hospital wards and separate public restrooms for transgenders. I mean come on. What happened to not asking for special rights, but equal rights!?
India's gender dichotomy and lack of a cohesive sexual minority community will definitely slow down the movement towards mainstreaming.
Part of the reason I bring all of this now is that India is hosting an Asia and the Pacific region consultation on Men who have Sex with Men and HIV. Entitled "Risk and Responsibilities" the consultation hopes to address:
Not bad for a country where same-sex sexual activity is illegal.
"the increased risks that men who have sex with men face through sexual practices and cultural vulnerabilities, and the risks of not addressing these with adequate, appropriate and sufficiently funded HIV prevention, treatment care and support interventions. This also flags the responsibilities of men for protecting themselves and their partners, and the responsibilities of governments, donors and other stakeholders in ensuring resources and environments that enable good-quality HIV programmes and services for prevention, treatment, care and support."
So I will be in Delhi for the next 5 days, talking about what needs to be done and how can countries collaborate and streamline their initiatives. Mainly I'm going for the entertainment value of it. 300 fags, queens, and trannies from all over Asia coming together to "dialogue" with government representatives and donor agencies. Should be fun!