The Supreme Court on Thursday decriminalised homosexuality as it read down Section 377 of the IPC, a 158-year-old colonial-era law, in a landmark ruling. Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who headed the constitutional bench, stated: “The LGBT community has same rights as of any ordinary citizen. Respect for each other’s rights and others are supreme humanity. Criminalising gay sex is irrational and indefensible.”
Another judge on the bench, Justice Indu Malhotra, said: “History owes an apology to the LGBTQ community for denying them right and compelling them to live a life of fear.”
Over the years, there have been writings that have reflected on the trials and tribulations, history and culture, and the rights and liberties of the LGBTQ community. We list some of the contemporary books here:
The Exiles by Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla
A searing exploration of desire, infidelity, and faith, The Exiles is a classic tale of love and loss set in Kenya, India and Los Angeles. It draws inspiration from archetypal Hindu mythology and romantic Sufi poetry, evoking unforgettable characters who explore a new world of newfound freedom and choices. On finding her husband has fallen in love with a young Muslim man, the wife is forced to confront painful truths about the past to make sense of the present.
Selection Day by Aravind Adiga
Manjunath Kumar, 14, knows he is good at cricket – if not as good as his elder brother, Radha. He knows that he fears and resents his domineering and cricket-obsessed father, admires his brilliantly talented sibling and is fascinated by the world of CSI. But there are things about himself he doesn’t know yet. When Manju gets introduced to Radha’s rival, everything in Manju’s world begins to change and he is faced with decisions that will bring him to turning points in his life.
No One Else – A Personal History of Outlawed Love and Sex by Siddharth Dube
At the age of ten, Siddharth finds himself captivated by an androgynous striptease dancer and begins to see something of himself in her. He’s only just starting to understand things he mostly ignored. As Siddharth come face to face with his personal traumas, his journey spins from the elite Doon School and Harvard to unsafe streets where lonely men seek each other to tell an extraordinary tale.
The Dancing Boy by Ishani Kar Purkayastha
Set in 1980s’ Calcutta, a young boy, Moyur, spends hours in front of the mirror, draped in his mother’s saris, his face layered with make-up, as he dances and twirls around the room. Often, when he dances, he catches a glimpse of a face that is his and not quite his. His mother is ashamed to accept him, his friends tease him and all his neighbours – but Jonali – misunderstand him. Sensitive and evocative, this promising debut novel tells the story of Moyur – the boy who never quite fits in, and that of his twin sister Moyna, who died before she was born.
The Parcel by Anosh Irani
Based on a transgender sex worker, Madhu, The Parcel is set in the red-light area of Bombay. At forty, Madhu has shifted from prostitution, her trade since her teens, and has taken to begging on the streets to support the leader of the hijras, Gurumai. One day, Madhu receives a call from Padma Madam, the most-feared brothel owner in the district: a ‘parcel’ has arrived – a ten-year-old girl betrayed and sold by her aunt – and Madhu needs to prepare her to face the world she left.
Kari by Amruta Patil
They were inseparable – till they decided to jump together. While Ruth got saved by safety nets and left the city, Kari was saved by a sewer and crawled back into the fray of living. Sensuously illustrated and brought to life by wry commentaries on life and love, Kari gives a new voice to graphic fiction in India.
What’s your pick? Let us know in the comments below.