ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Compulsory Heterosexuality, Gender, and Sexual Minorities

Reflections on Section 377

The recent ruling that decriminalised provisions of Section 377 has posed a serious challenge to the existing hierarchies of compulsory heterosexuality and gender.

The suppression of “other sexualities” through legal mechanisms resulted in the incorporation of Section 377 in the Indian Penal Code (IPC). All forms of non-procreative and non-heterosexual activities were criminalised under the original colonial law until provisions of Section 377 that criminalised consensual “unnatural” sex were struck down in September 2018. It was only on 6 November 2018 that the colonial coercive section was modified stating that all forms of consensual sexual activities between adults have been decriminalised.

This article studies the relationship between compulsory heterosexuality and gender in the context of Section 377 with reference to the original section as formulated by the colonial state. First, it studies the contribution of Section 377 in invoking the power relationship between the hetero and non-hetero. Second, in the line of argument that perceives compulsory heterosexuality and gender as interconnected systems, this article tries to study how compulsory heterosexuality under Section 377 has linkages with gender in shaping the lives of the non-heterosexual women. With this analysis of the unmodified original Section 377 of the IPC, this article proceeds to understand the importance of the recent ruling of the Supreme Court. On a final note, the article stresses the need for significant changes in the hierarchical structures of compulsory heterosexuality and gender so as to ensure the social inclusion of the sexual minorities (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex—LGBTQI) in a restructured inclusive society.

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Updated On : 2nd Mar, 2019
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