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On its 68th Independence Day, does India have #FreedomFrom intolerance?

Friday, 15 August 2014 - 1:00pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna webdesk

Even as India strides into its 68th year of independence, sections of our society remain marginalised, and it isn't for the lack of constitutional rights. On the contrary, the robust Indian legal framework encompasses and empowers every individual on the nation's soil with basic rights to protect them.

But laws and legislations can do little to change mindsets. And while India may have still have a long way to go on that front, precedents have already been set.

Late last year, the Supreme Court of India overturned an earlier judgement on Section 377, criminalising homosexual behaviour, and in the process, labelling the many (2.5 million by the government's count) LGBT Indians as potential criminals. A landmark judgement in itself, however, the events that followed hold historical importance.

Citizens came out, in large numbers, in strong opposition to the apex court judgement, so much so that the then government petitioned to Supreme Court urging it to review its decision. Cities across the nation were witness to mass protest rallies and unique campaigns such as 'Gay for a day' took root.

The apex court verdict on Section 377 is yet to be reversed, but the momentum the movement gathered showed how far we have come.

Lingering fear
But even as we discuss this, India's LGBT community continues to live with a persistent fear. This was emulated in a recent viral video aptly titled 'Darr / डर - A True Story', featuring India's queer community who share their fears that primarily arise from a culture of intolerance ingrained into the Indian society. "It stems from patriarchy and our nature of 'othering' everyone who is different. We think the ones who are effeminate, like females, should be subjugated. We think that different is abnormal. That's the mindset," shares prominent LGBT activist Harish Iyer.

And how does one deal with such fear? "By speaking up and speaking for the ones who are invisible; by creating an ecosystem that fosters love and equality," he says. "But being the voice for the voiceless and by being real loud at that," he adds. Read more

ALSO READ: #RightToLove campaign narrates how India's LGBT citizens cope with discrimination

"Head held high"
Similarly, another viral song attempted to break the fear patterns with music. Produced by Smiti Malik and Adhir Ghosh, the track titled 'Head held high' has already cross over 1 lakh views in the one month that it has been up.

Listen to it here:

It remains imperative that we build a more tolerant India, but it is of even more importance that no member of Indian society lives their life in fear, or without dignity. And if that remains to be the case, then we as a society are far from free and independent.

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