A battle of loveIt was love at first sight for Roberto. Some time back in Italy, before he came to live in India, his mother had asked him not to fall in love with an Indian girl. Roberto couldn’t help falling in love in India, but he fell for a local man. His partner, Sambhav, has a contagious smile that matches his eyes. His combative spirit contrasts with his innocent and sweet disposition. He is ever present in the protests in New Delhi demanding rights for the gay community.
Sambhav knows that in India it is not easy to be accepted as gay. He knew it since he was 13 years old and one teacher at the school discovered a love letter that he had written to a friend. The friend started avoiding him and the teacher called his mother and asked her to reprimand this “twisted” conduct of her child. Till then Sambhav hadn’t really questioned why he liked men.
But he says that the Supreme Court of India gave the worst blow to his life last December. The highest judicial authority reversed a landmark judgment by a lower court decriminalizing homosexuality in the country. The court said that only the Government could change this law. “We are considered criminals again”, says Sambhav.
This law, dating from 1860 during the British rule, deems sexual activities "against the order of nature" punishable by up to life imprisonment. In 2009 a Delhi High Court overturned it, but in December it was reinstated. This law had been applied in very few cases, but the gay community says it is a weapon the police use against them.
The re-criminalization of homosexuality was a jump 150 years back in the fight for equality, activists say. And it was an unpleasant surprise for most of them. “The Supreme Court’s ruling is a disappointing setback to human dignity”, said in a statement Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia director of Human Rights Watch.
Assignment for El Pais Semanal
Text by Ana Gabriela Rojas