While Tom Robinson may be free to sing about being gay no one in India is, after a 2009 high court decision decriminalising homosexual behaviour was recently overturned, making the practice of homosexual behaviour punishable by up to ten years in prison (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/court-in-india-criminalizes-homosexuality/2013/12/11/ea7274a6-6227-11e3-a7b4-4a75ebc432ab_story.html). This is one of the most insane things I have read recently. Does the Indian Supreme Court have nothing better to do with its time than interfere with people’s personal lives? I was unbelievably disappointed by this decision because I had really thought that as a society we had moved beyond such pettiness, although I should not have been surprised when being gay is still illegal in countries like Uganda. I fail to understand why homosexuality elicits such incredibly strong negative emotions. Why do people feel so threatened by what other people do sexually, especially as gay activity is extremely prevalent throughout the animal kingdom (apart from humans homosexuality has been described in black swans, gulls, mallards, penguins, dolphins, bison, bonobos, elephants, giraffes, the list goes on)?
Years ago a friend of mine decided to come out of the closet. He seemed quite disappointed by my non-reaction when he told me he was gay. I had, actually, worked it out years before. Although it sounds like a cliché, how many young men who never mention a girlfriend and live by themselves in an immaculately kept apartment are not gay? What did disappoint me slightly was the fact that he felt it necessary to tell me, as if the revelation of his sexual orientation would somehow alter our relationship. It was obviously a big issue for him but it was completely inconsequential to me. It is a pity that there appears to be such a stigma attached to a person’s sexuality that they feel the need to tell their family and friends about it, when they do not feel a similar need to reveal their religious affiliations. I would have reacted much more strongly if he had told me that he was a Collingwood supporter, as that would really have tested the friendship, me being a Carlton supporter. But being gay? Really, I could care less and don’t see why any of my friends should feel the need to tell me about it.
While we have made great strides in accepting people of varying sexual orientations we will not be truly civilised until gay people feel the same need to reveal their sexual orientation to others as non-gay people do. Unfortunately this ridiculous ruling in India demonstrates that that time is some way off yet.
Dr. F. Bunny