Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

‘Will our children now be seen as criminals?’

Written by Premankur Biswas | Kolkata | Posted: December 12, 2013 4:19 am

In 2011,filmmaker Chitra Palekar was among 19 parents of lesbian,gay,bisexual and transgender people who came together and filed a petition in the Supreme Court to lend their support to the 2009 Delhi High Court verdict decriminalising homosexuality.

On Wednesday,when the Supreme Court set aside that verdict,the Palekars struggled to come to terms with the new reality.

“My daughter Shalmalee,who is a professor of post-colonial literature at University of Western Australia,wrote to me saying that the fight will continue,” said Chitra. “She said the Supreme Court has dealt a huge blow to progression of human rights in the country. It is an opportunity lost and I am both sad and furious.”

Amol Palekar said the verdict was disturbing and not just for personal reasons. “The Supreme Court’s verdict is deeply saddening and a regressive step in human relationships. It’s clearly about majority and minority,a game of numbers and how ‘their’ choices are different from ‘ours’. It is not just about being parents to a homosexual child but something that threatens the core of human existence. I sincerely hope that we not just learn to accept differences and offer pity but see it with empathy,” he said.

“There was such immense scope for a positive verdict,especially with other countries passing same sex marriage laws. How is it that the Supreme Court did not take cognisance of what’s happening across the world? Does this now mean our children will be considered criminals?” Chitra asked.

Meanwhile in Kolkata,at a protest meet held in front of Kolkata’s historic Academy of Fine Arts,parents joined their children. “I am worried about my son now again. What if he lands up behind bars now?”asked Subarana Chanda,a 67-year-old housewife who attended the protest meet with her son Moloy Guha,a Kolkata-based make-up artist.

Two years ago,another homemaker,Bina Guha Thakurta,went to weigh in on the debate over same-sex relationship,in support of her son Tirthankar Guha Thakurta. Today,she is “shattered”. “I am really upset about this,” she says. “As a parent,I can’t abandon my child. And I firmly believe that each person has the right to choose his or her partner. Societal pressure cannot work in personal matters,” she says. Bina Guha Thakurta was one of the 19 parents who had filed the petition in the Supreme Court in 2011.

For Sulekha in Kolkata (name changed on request),who attended the meet to support her lesbian daughter,Mithila,life has come to a full circle. “I had seen her struggle with her identity and then finally come out more than a decade ago. I remember how as a member of a LGBT support group she would attend meetings,hand out fliers in all gatherings Then the Delhi High court judgment happened and I was relieved. But she has to do it all again,it seems,” said Sulekha.

Amrit Ramaswamy,26,a hospitality executive from Bangalore,said if the 2009 verdict encouraged him to come out to his parents,the Supreme Court’s reversal has shocked him and his family. His mother Anitha Ramaswamy,54,who runs a garments export business,called it “a dark day” in the history of the LGBT movement continued…

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