Scrapping Section 377 is just the first step for Indian LGBTQ community

Supreme Court on 6th September, gave a historical verdict and made Section 377 of Indian Penal Code submitted to history. Section 377 criminalize homosexual activities. Although gaining legal acceptance doesn’t mean that the struggle is over; not even half-done.

The real war is to gain social and religious acceptance. Although the acceptance of society towards LGBTQ community has improved a lot, but it is still far from being termed OK. Religious acceptance is much worse.
2 Pew Research Centres surveys done in Spring 2013 let us to meet the ground reality of the society. Mind that the surveys were done in the USA where the society is quite liberal in comparison to India.

An overwhelming number (92%) of LBGT adults saw society becoming more accepting over the last decade. On the other hand, many reported continued discrimination, taking various forms. On the part of the general public, opposition to same-sex marriage remains substantial, and religious beliefs are a major factor. Just under half of Americans (45%) say they think engaging in homosexual behavior is a sin.

Acceptance is a qualitative term. One can accept a certain community but doesn’t respect them. For eg. Dalits in the past. They were acceptable but regarded as ‘Untouchables”. While LGBT adults say society is more accepting, just 19% say there is “a lot” of social acceptance today and many say they have been victims of discrimination, such as being subject to slurs or jokes, or suffering rejection by a family member.

The number of Americans who had a favourable view of gay men stands at 55%, an 18 percentage point increase compared to a decade earlier; 58% had a favorable opinion of lesbians, a 19 percentage point increase over the same time span.

The community is self-aware. An awe-inspiring percentage of Americans (87%) say they know someone who is gay or lesbian, compared to 61% who said so twenty years ago in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey. The survey of the general public found that 23% say they personally know “a lot” of gay or lesbian people, while 44% say they know some, and 19% have only one or two gay or lesbian acquaintances.

The survey also found that 68% of those who know a lot of people who are gays and lesbians — and 61% who have close friends or family members who are gay or lesbian — say they support same-sex marriage.

The biggest hurdle is religious acceptance. The LGBTQ community has long deprived of such acceptance. Religions like The Muslim religion (84%), the Mormon Church (83%), the Catholic Church (79%) and evangelical churches (73%) were viewed as more unfriendly than the Jewish religion or non-evangelical Protestant churches.

When the nearly one-third of Americans who say homosexuality should be discouraged are asked in an open-ended question why they feel this way, by far the most common reason — given by 52% — is that homosexuality conflicts with their religious or moral beliefs

So, we can see that the struggle is showing results but still a long way to go. These data were gathered in the USA. The situation is much different in India. To take a rough estimate, we can divide the acceptance ratio by 4 to get some reliability in the data. Besides, hypocrisy of the public can also be a factor of disparity. In short, the journey has just started and requires a lot of endurance to reach the finish line.

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