Wronging Gay Rights

Akshita Manocha Words of Freedom Leave a Comment

How would you categorize the recent Supreme Court verdict on Section 377?

This article is the analysis of the results of the Saturday Poll posted on India Institute’s Facebook page on 14 December, 2013 which asked the above question. The recent Supreme Court upholding of Article 377 has sparked widespread reaction across the nation.India Institute

The recent Supreme Court upholding of Article 377 has sparked widespread reaction across the nation. So we dedicated last week’s Saturday Poll to understanding our level of acceptance for sexual minorities and to what extent the petitioners in the case were representative of public opinion. We asked you to describe the verdict in one word or one phrase. Depending upon the primary dictionary meaning of your choice of word/phrase, we categorised each description as falling into one of the 6 categories of opinions we created as a spectrum with ‘the verdict is biased’ on the one end and ‘highly in favour’ on the other end. Since polling is not restricted to our fans, this could be indicative of the trend among educated internet savvy Indians.

One third of those who took the poll felt that the Supreme Court decision was “biased” against sexual minorities while another one third felt a little less strongly and chose words synonymous with “foolish” to describe the verdict. In fact just about 6% said they were in agreement with the judgement. An even smaller proportion of 2% expressed no alignment and said the Supreme Court would know what is right. 

An interesting observation is, as the graph shows, women in general were more tolerant than men. Compared to men, more women chose harsher words to describe that the court’s stand was “biased” and “foolish”. In fact, no woman thought that the judgment was correct or sensible. 

If we take these numbers as representative of urban India, then about 19 million Indians (6% of the urban population) believe that homosexuality is against the order of nature. But in relative terms, they are a negligible minority. Just as the LGBT population is, which the SC used as a justification for declaring their sexual preferences unnatural and hence criminal.