While countries of the Western world have begun the transition toward becoming accepting of homosexuality and the LGBT community, many parts of the world are still very much against it. In particular, India is so rigidly against homosexual behavior that is punishable by law. Same sex marriage is against the law and since 1861 the India legal system has the authority to sentence an individual “convicted” of homosexuality behavior to up to 10 years in prison. Furthermore, as a society, the idea of homosexuality isn’t even discussing. In fact, when asked about homosexuality most Indians would respond, “it does not exist here.” This may be because those who are Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual do not come forward due to the country’s harsh set of laws. They are forced to live a double life in order to keep their sexual preferences hidden from the outside world. Human rights groups are actively pressuring the government to review these restrictive laws. Although same sex unions are outlawed, there have been cases of two women being allowed to marry. There has not been a recognized case for males.
In contrast, India is one of the few countries of the world that accepts a “third gender”. The Hijra describe themselves as neither men nor women however, most were born male and dress in female clothing. In a landmark decision, India has given full rights to the Hijra and even created an “other” category on voting cards.
Just as in fights across the world, most LGBT opposition comes from religious leaders. Although not specifically mentioned in Hindu texts, the religion often recognizes homosexual activity as “unnatural”.
Activists are attending parades in the thousands and strides are being made, yet even as many Americans see our own country as “behind the times” in terms of acceptance, countries around the world like India are medieval in comparison.