Celebrating Diversity And Inclusiveness In The Age Of Consent
(CNS): One year ago, on July 2nd 2009, a Delhi High Court division bench of Chief Justice AP Shah and Justice S Muralidhar said "We declare that Section 377 IPC, insofar it criminalizes consensual sexual acts of adults in private, is violative of Articles 21, 14 and 15 of the Constitution." It upheld one of the primary principles of natural justice, 'right to consent' and restored the dignity and rights of millions of those whose existence in the society was not even acknowledged. Needless to say that while it was a result of a long struggle by a lot of people that a judgement of this kind came in, and that is not a mean achievement, however, implementation of this is important. Just having a law is not enough.
In this one year we have seen many changes in the society and do hope this will go a long way in ending the life-long harassment and discrimination in schools, colleges, workspaces, homes, the streets and everywhere. The fight against the discrimination in the name of caste, class, patriarchy and religion has to be led at this front too and everybody will have to come to the fore of it. After all in this age of consent, the cardinal principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity has to be upheld not only by states but also by the civil society.
We need to note that inspite of having a law to prevent the atrocities and discrimination against the dalits and tribals still they are being subject to all kinds of discrimination and face violence in everyday life. What is needed is a political will for enforcing the law and people recognising the value of dignity and a societal acceptance of these values. With dignity, the right to life and dignified livelihood of everyone has to be respected and that is why it becomes important that queer community joins hands with dalits, adivasis, farmers, workers, fisher folks, forest dwellers and others in their struggle for a better life. These struggles are not of one community alone but are linked and is a struggle of everyone. This would make the true rainbow alliance and ensure diversity and plurality within the movement.
Justice shah and Muralidhar cited Dr. Ambedkar's notion of "constitutional morality" and Pt. Nehru's idea of equality, and recognized that: "If there is one constitutional tenet that can be said to be underlying theme of the Indian Constitution, it is that of 'inclusiveness'." And further that, "It cannot be forgotten that discrimination is antithesis of equality and that it is the recognition of equality which will foster the dignity of every individual."
The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) joins hands with the queer movement in celebrating a year since this judgement and urges the movement to also come forward in tune with the struggle of millions for a dignified livelihood and to end continuing violence unleashed by the neo-liberal policies of the government on the people. The challenges are many and we have to spread far and wide and lend our shoulders with struggling people everywhere and take the movement to hitherto unreachable places in villages and smaller towns as well. As a movement let us make sure that round the year we are on the streets fighting the injustice everywhere not only when our individual freedom and rights are at stake. As a movement we have to stand with everyone and everywhere against discrimination, oppression and injustice.
Celebrating diversity, plurality and for a rainbow of resistances against injustice and violence ... (CNS)
Medha Patkar – CNS
(The author is a noted social activist in India, leading the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) and is globally acclaimed for her absolute commitment to strive for human rights and social justice)