If we’re not comfortable with the idea of homosexuality in reality, having an LGBT member represent our population is simply out of the question.
Identifying oneself as queer in India attracts one of two reactions: That of pity or that of a threat.
Pity is what the CM of Goa Manohar Parrikar projects when he suggests setting up centres that would give the youth of the LGBT community ‘focused attention’ and train them. And the threat is when BJP MP Subramanian Swamy says homosexuality is a danger to our “national security”.
In a society where homosexuals are thought of as either having a mental problem or as a criminal, the idea of India accepting a queer politician seems utopian at best.
However, this is only the tip of the iceberg as what matters even more are the reasons that contribute to the existence of such extremist and intolerant ideologies in our country.
India’s population is predominantly rural− 68.84 per cent of it, according to the 15th Census. The remaining people reside in urban areas. However, 37.8 per cent of our population are migrants, and it’s needless to say that most of them migrate from the rural to the urban in search of better occupational opportunities. While many may think that a sizable part of our population is urban, thus educated and accepting of the LGBT community, we must realise that a major section of the community hails from rural areas where religion plays a dominant role in shaping people’s opinions and ideologies.
This difference between the educated and the enlightened is what drives the pattern of thinking about the LGBTQ in our country.
What also stands in the way is the fact that a large part of our population is influenced by various right-wing leaders who condemn homosexuality as being criminal. All India Hindu Mahasabha president Swami Chakrapani Maharaj and politician Subramanian Swamy come to mind as fitting examples of such influencers.
It is this lack of enlightenment that leads to a large number of Indians being influenced by these leaders and eventually taking an anti-humanist stance.
Yet another factor to be considered is that India has still has not achieved gender equality, and it will take a long time considering the patriarchal nature of our society. The hope for majority acceptance of a third sex or of variations in sexuality is nothing but vain.
In light of the recent debates in Supreme Court over the validity of Section 377 in the Indian Penal Code, the Centre’s refusal to take a stance shows that this issue isn’t one of their priorities, thus showing us how much they really care.
It will take a really long time and concerted efforts at spreading awareness before we have a queer politician in India, because if we’re not comfortable with the idea of homosexuality in reality, having an LGBT member represent our population is simply out of the question.
Vikram Varma, a student of Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication, Pune is the winner of the opinion writing contest at Democracy Wall.
This was in a response to the question asked by ThePrint: What would it take India to accept a queer politician?
Democracy Wall is a monthly free speech campus initiative organised by ThePrint in collaboration with Facebook.