|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point: Debates: South Asian|
Thursday, 17 August, 2000, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Is it time for a new attitude towards homosexuality in South Asia?
Homosexuality is still illegal in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
But isn't it time for South Asia to accept that gay relationships do exist? Should society raise its tolerance of homosexuals? Should gays be given equal rights?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Biswajit, USA/ India
I am a 24-year-old gay guy. I am a devout Jain and have lived all my life in Bombay. I came out to my family and some friends after my education was completed and have been living a nice life ever since. In Bombay there is even a gay group that closely interacts with the government and provides specialised health services to gay men.
Zafar Shah, India
As a gay Muslim male, I think that the time is long overdue for society in South Asia to come to terms with homosexuality as a reality and a way that we are born.
Islam is all against homosexuality as these are unnatural relationships. Sexual relations are only meant for opposite sex partners with some moral limitations.
It is a Western phenomenon but that does not mean that South Asians should follow it blindly.
As a European it is not my duty to say how other countries should organise themselves;
Nevertheless, human rights are the same everywhere and it is time for countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh to fulfil their obligations.
Firstly, homosexuality should not be illegal and the law should protect homosexuals from discriminations, torture and violence.
Until these basic changes occur, as a Danish citizen I will oppose all co-operation between Europe and countries where my brothers are not respected.
Vibha, India/ UK
I consider myself a Muslim and the world out there that is ignorant of Islam and fears it, should know that a Muslim does not have any nationality or race. A Muslim is just a Muslim - Islam is universal in that sense.
Where homosexuality is concerned, Muslims throughout the world are not immune from this. Yes, homosexuality is "haram" (completely illegal) in Islam but the reality is far from true. Although, there is nothing wrong with Islam, there is everything wrong about Muslims. After all they are human beings too.
Gay people are doing nothing wrong so why reprimand them?
I see homosexuality as a sickness, so we just need to look for the cure.
People here say that Muslims will not accept homosexuals. I personally wonder why I see so many homosexuals and transsexuals in so many Muslim countries that I have visited? Much more than in any other religious-dominated area.
Homosexuality's justifiability becomes controversial when it comes to the issue of continuity of society which is based on "procreation". Does homosexuality allow for this? What if everybody takes up homosexuality? What will happen to continuity? Nature is the ultimate decider.
Dinesh Pathak, Nepal (presently in Japan)
Speaking as a person of Indian origin, it's blatant denial to turn a blind eye to centuries of close, intimate, same-sex bonding in India and many other gender-segregated cultures. The burgeoning lesbi-gay movements in many parts of South Asia and elsewhere are creating contexts in which "the love that dare not speak its name" is being slowly but surely pushed into arenas of public discourse. This is a mixed blessing, since the old closeted homosexual underground was slyly winked at,
ignored, or even tolerated, whereas the new gay self-assertion is often met with a backlash of repressive hostility and finger pointing.
Sherry Peerzad, Pakistan
Homosexuality is not an activity, nor a choice of a lifestyle. It is
who we are. For whatever reason God only knows, we are sexually
attracted and responsive to members of the same sex. We have no
control over it. Consequently, we fall in love with people of the
same sex and wish to share our lives with someone of the same
sex. If Islam kept no room for us, then we have no room for Islam or any other religion. Countries like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan can start by evolving out of their
puritan shells and begin to see the world as it is.
Homosexuality is not a life style, it is a form of mental disease. I believe sooner or later scientists will find out the abnormal gene which causing this illness. It was never accepted and won't be accepted in South Asia. It should be considered as a crime as well.
Sexuality is a gift from God. Used as he directs in Holy Scripture and your life will be blessed and strengthened. Misused and your life and the life of society as a whole will be harmed and ultimately destroyed. The only honourable and healthy sexuality is within a life long committed marriage between a man and a woman.
Everyone as a 'human' should be given equal rights as 'humans' only, sexuality is a private matter and shouldn't be flaunted in the open whether homo or hetro.
We should never show intolerance towards people, but we should show intolerance to behaviour that is wrong. If homosexuality is wrong, the behaviour should not be tolerated.
Well, it would be like hiding the truth if I would depict that there is nothing like homosexuality existing in Pakistan. I have witnessed it myself at dance parties. Well, i was shocked initially to witness this in Pakistan but it does exsist.
There is absolutely no excuse for homosexuality. No other animal in the world practices it. Only man has fallen to the depths of immorality to take it up as a way of life.
My view is that this 'topic' remains where it started, in the West. We, in Southeast Asia prefer women as partners for marriage. Not 'relationships'...marriage. Always have...always will.
In my opinion and in the opinion of the vast majority of Southeast Asians, let well enough alone.
Public display of relationship be it homosexual or heterosexual is generally uncomfortable in the Indian Subcontinent. The media or public in India does not actively hunt homosexuals. As far as legal rights are concerned the subcontinent has more pressing issues due to centuries of its neglect.
I'm a little confused by some of the comments on this board. Either the people who are posting their comments on this board lived in a different India than I did or are in complete denial. I came to the US as a 23 year old student 14 years ago. Prior to this I lived in India, where several of my friends at a major Indian university were openly gay. Has anyone who has posted a message to this discussion from India ever travelled as a backpacker through North India? In the railway stations, if you are there late enough, you see men openly having sex with each other. Or you can drive the national highways that traverse the country, pull into a dhaba and see a truck driver and his "helper" sleeping in the same khattiya.
I am heterosexual and my American spouse was rather amused that we could not hold hands in public in Delhi without being jeered at, when earlier that morning we had seen two men openly having sex on the platform in Agra railway station. A friend of mine is an epidemiologist in India, and she pointed out to me that the average Indian is such extreme denial about homosexuality, that it is almost impossible to start an AIDS education program that will have any impact on the large Indian gay community, many of whom are illiterate, unless Indians acknowledge that their gay fellow citizens exist. Hats off to groups like the Mercury Phoenix Foundation for paving the way to tolerance for all Indians, regardless of lifestyle.
Even though I have lived in the western world for the majority of my life and seen the church and many other organisations bend to the homosexual agenda and will, I really doubt if homosexuality will be allowed let alone be condoned anywhere in any Muslim country around the world.
OF COURSE people in South Asia need to be more tolerant toward GLBTs (gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals).
Attitudes toward sex in South Asia are ignorant and parochial. GLBTs are to be found everywhere. I personally know several gays and lesbians in India, and am proud to call some of them my friends.
I get extremely suspicious when anyone starts explaining what is "natural" and what is not, or starts extolling the "virtues" (whatever they may be) of Hindu or Muslim culture. If you are a Hindu, have you ever heard of the Kamasutra? Come on, people, let's live and let live. We need to move beyond tolerance, to acceptance of such people as our equals.
I wish GLBTs in South Asia all the best. Given the widespread prevalence of bigots among heterosexuals, GLBTs need all the luck they can get.
Homosexuality is not acceptable in South Asian countries like India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.
Being a Pakistani Muslim the issue of homosexuality is clear-cut, it cannot and must not be allowed. Homosexuality is banned in Islam and is clearly a disgusting and unnatural activity.
I cannot speak for south Asia as a whole, but Pakistan is Islamic and never will allow homosexuality to exist openly, thankfully. The entire foundation for homosexuality is based on rebelliousness, people who want divert from the mainstream, it has no absolute biological basis.
Guru Shenoy, USA
Being a homosexual is not a crime; the act, if proved, is punishable. In fact, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code makes all "unnatural acts" (whether by heterosexuals or homosexuals) a crime. That's the position in India and I assume it's also the case in other former colonies of the British Raj in South Asia as this antiquated law is a legacy of the British. This law is being blatantly used to harass and blackmail gay men and women, and it's time it was struck off and other measures introduced to give les-bi-gay people equal rights.
Islam does not allow homosexuality and I believe it should not be allowed in India, Sri Lanka and especially in any Islamic country.
We in Pakistan tolerate homosexuality. Because of the strict moral dilemma of the separation of sexes in social life, homosexuality is pervasive all over the country. You see transvestites openly plying their trade on the street corners of major cities without any let or hindrance. However, we are shy and uncomfortable with public displays of affection. So, nobody can show any signs of affection. Actually, I think Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world where homosexuals can openly hug and lay in a park in each other's arms but no heterosexual couple can even think of it.
There is nothing mentioned in either Buddhist or Hindu texts about homosexuality. Learning to live and let live is usually one of the South Asian hallmarks even though we seem to forget it sometimes. We should be accepting of all people and stop instinctively trying to marginalise people based on differences.
The problem is that in these very closed societies anything concerning sex is considered "dirty". Frankly, there is a massive amount of hypocrisy here. We all know what happens when you have an unnatural segregation of the sexes (as you do in these nations) so I very much doubt if they are free of homosexuality or other ills such as child abuse, etc. I believe people have little choice in their orientation and those who are this way should not be persecuted. However, nor should they flaunt it in public - all societies find such displays distasteful and offensive. In these Southeast Asian societies the closet is the safer option.
I think you'll find that Muslims by and large will NEVER accept homosexuals as equals - something that the Christian Church is compromising every day. Jesus certainly didn't say anything about making homosexuals equal.
I'm hopeful my sexuality will be fully accepted in my home country of India such as it is in the United States. My Indian friends here have been very supportive of my partner and me. I would like to see that cultured attitude of accepting gays more prevalent in India, where so many of my close relations follow the same lifestyle.
Anupa , Indian/ USA
This is in response to Mr Morgan Connors comments that homosexuality should be tolerated in south Asia because of their population problems. Does he similarly imply in less populated portions of the world say Canada etc, people should have 4 or 5 wives to fix their problem? Homosexuality is not something that people of south Asia will accept and that it is the way it should be. This is not being intolerant
but just putting sex in the proper perspective, i.e. sex is not everything in life.
The question is not that
simple. In fact, it is even
educated middle class
South Asians are not
not even aware that there
are gays in their country.
If they are blind to the
existence of a portion of
their population, how
can they even think in
terms of granting equal
rights? After all, it is
against an invisible
I too, am an American of Sri Lanka descent and realise that the traditional views supersede human rights, in countries such as Sri Lanka. Yet, I think if change is going to occur, it must begin with pride. Gay men and women should not have to suppress their sexuality because "...others will see they are just human beings and will treat them as such". We are all human beings, and if heterosexuals can flaunt their sexuality, why can't the Gay community? Change begins with one's heart and mind, obviously even American's of Sri- Lankan heritage - as noted in the comments above - are still close-minded and close hearted. That is pretty tragic.
As hard as it is to change, I can only hope that people in South Asia and around the world learn to respect others' preferences and views, although they may not always correspond with theirs. If we can follow our beliefs without infringing on others' freedoms, without forcing others to agree the world might just be a better place.
Yes it is true that the west is more
open to sexual diversity. However
many of us are of the opinion that
this is a bad thing. Many of us think
it is high time that the relatively
conservative mores of the East
need to be taken as the norm. What
many people see as an alternative
lifestyle, most Eastern people see
as debauchery. Most of us don't
need it, don't want it. Keep your
lifestyle to yourself.
Being a Muslim and a follower of Islam, I would only say that homosexuality is not at all acceptable by any follower of Islam. It is strictly prohibited in Islam and countries like Pakistan, Iran and Bangladesh should never allow this thing to happen.
In every given population of humans, there are a small percentage of homosexuals. At least that's what the westerners say.
I don't know about Sri Lanka and India but in Pakistan which is an Islamic country, homosexuals should remain in the closet. They shouldn't show their emotions towards the same sex in public. But then that's ok since heterosexuals can't show their emotions in public either in Pakistan.
Navarun Gupta, USA
The question is do we want to promote these relationships which defies nature and natural habitat. This vice should be cured by tolerance, and not by violence. However, the bottom line being people should realise this is an unhealthy relationship, and will only but defy the human lifecycle. So ask yourself do you want to go against the very cause of your creation?
Its nothing to do with us ! Having suffered over the last 10 years from the media ramming a minority issue down our throats constantly. Please lets leave the purer cultures of the sub-continent to there own devices. If they want to accept it - FINE, if they don't¿ that's their cultural choice... I think its us that should be more tolerant of their culture - not the other way round.
Its high time India woke up to these issues staring us in the face.
On a larger context, equality for all is the only way to go. And if India finds this difficult, because of its highly segregated past, then there's no slow and steady cure for it.
Unless you get a rude awakening, you really don't do what can be done tomorrow, today.
These are your sons and daughters. Your friends, your bosses, brothers and sisters. Get together everyone, and stand up for the individual's right to exist as they choose to.
Sanjay Gupta, India
Indians in India are becoming more tolerant towards homosexuality and I believe the day is not far when the laws are changed. There is no need to flaunt ones sexuality, however. Awareness is essential. And this awareness will come as the nation matures and progresses ahead.
No it isn't time. South Asia is a place where drinking alcohol is still considered a taboo. There are millions of people in South Asia who still need to be educated academically. Once that happens, then the government can worry about demonstrating tolerance towards homosexuals.
Anil TLN, India
It's very important to start the debate over
homosexuality in South Asia because most of
it's people believe this doesn't exist.
And its also time to people from South Asia should be
more open and tolerant over lifestyles
which are not common in these countries.
I'm not sure about Bangladesh, India, or Sri Lanka, but Pakistan is an Islamic Republic, and in Islam there is no tolerance for homosexuality. So therefore no, I do not believe that homosexuality should be tolerated or made legal in Pakistan.
Tolerance of diverse, off-the-mainstream ideas and beliefs is what our region terribly lacks in. 'Celebration of diversity' might be a clichéd term in the west, but the concept still has a long way to go in South Asia.
Mohammad Khan, Pakistan
It's time for South Asia to catch up with the "acceptance" movement taking place around the world.
Human Rights were designed for every and all persuasions.
Yes, they should be more tolerant. Who does it hurt if someone prefers to be romantically involved with a person of their own gender? Anyway, with the population problem of South Asia, homosexuality should be more than tolerated.
24 Feb 00 | South Asia
Safe filming promised for Water
07 Feb 00 | South Asia
Shooting of Indian film banned
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Other Talking Points:
Links to other South Asian stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy