“I wish there was a way to blank this out,” says counselling psychologist Deepak Kashyap, 27. “It is shockingly insensitive for the court to have disregarded how this will affect so many people like us.”
As he holds his 31-year-old partner Jerry Johnson’s hand and draws him close at their Sant Cruz home he wonders, “You know, just this, holding hands or hugging each other could suddenly mean being hauled away by cops. The fact that with one ruling the country’s top court has jeopardised so many lives has left me shocked, baffled and numbed.”
His partner Jerry Johnson, an executive with a private firm, too feels the court has taken away his fundamental right to live with dignity. “Putting that up for vote means the majority will get to decide on how I should live my life.”
Kashyap and his partner met on Facebook in March 2009. A year’s long distance relationship while Kashyap pursued his post graduation in psychology in the UK convinced them that they belonged together.
“I had moved out of parents’ home and began living on my own since 2006,” recounts Jerry. After Deepak moved in with him on his return in 2011, the couple got the first taste of homophobia.
“The housing society had already made its disapproval known. But we were told by the landlord that he needed the flat and we moved.”
The couple who are great supporters of LGBT rights advocacy and regulars at the Humsafar Trust meetings say the Delhi high court’s 2009 ruling decriminalising homosexuality had led many hopeful youngsters to come out. “Many of these younsters would come up to me and Deepak for reassurance that they were doing the right thing. Now what do we tell them?” Jerry wonders.
Kashyap feels that they will have to go back to looking over their shoulders even at a gay party where no sex is involved. “As it is there have been sporadic incidents of police high-handedness of barging into gay parties insinuating all kinds of things. Now they have the law on their side.”
But the law isn’t exactly saying being gay is illegal. “Yeah, but the line between where you are called a criminal and what is acceptable that persecution and harassment will be back,” explains Jerry who wonders what message the country is sending out to its youth. “Adolescence and early youth is when many grapple with their sexuality and issues about coming out. Now you are telling the 17-18-19-year-old who has come out of his family that he’s a criminal. Where does that leave him?” According to him: “It is shameful that a country like India will have to face the ignominy of seeing many seek asylum citing persecution on the basis of their sexual orientation.”
Seeing him all excited Deepak again draws him close and kisses him on the forehead. “Chill, I’m sure things will work out,” he says.
What does Section 377 say?
Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with [imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.