On January 10, 2018, India’s Supreme Court declared it would re-examine Section 377 of the Indian Penal code, which bans “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal” — an act currently punishable by life imprisonment. The idea that same sex relations went “against the order of nature” came from a 16th century English law, passed down from when India was a colony of the British Empire.
While beleaguered gay activists, long engaged in an uphill battle to deliver justice to India’s LGBTQ community, may have heaved a collective sigh of relief, some representatives of India’s right-wing government were quick to douse their hopes. “As long as they don’t celebrate it, don’t flaunt it, don’t create gay bars to select partners it’s not a problem,” said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarian Subramanian Swamy. “In their privacy what they do, nobody can invade but if you flaunt it, it has to be punished and therefore there has to be Section 377 of the IPC,” he added.
That reasoning — that a tolerant society somehow encourages homosexuality to flourish — has been used to support anti-gay legislation in Uganda, Russia, and elsewhere.