US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered an extraordinary speech on International Human Rights Day in Geneva. She was talking about gay, homosexual, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Secretary Clinton said, "Today I want to talk about the work we have left to do to protect one group of people whose human rights are still denied in too many parts of the world. In many ways they are an invisible minority.... Some seem to believe it is a Western phenomenon, and therefore people outside the West have grounds to reject it. Well, in reality, gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world... Being gay is not a Western invention. It is a human reality."
It is a landmark statement from The United States' topmost leaders. The US government's clear stand beside homosexuality pushed the values of the world civilization 50 years ahead. It was a daring step taken by US democratic government, which took the risk of creating discontent in the society.
Early in October, British Prime Minister David Cameron warned some disadvantaged countries that ban homosexuality that they risk losing aid payments unless they reform. He especially mentioned the African leaders.
The political leaders and the governments of the Sub-Continent are fully silent about the US-British move.
Only in India, BJP leader B.P. Singhal replied, "We do not need the West dictating its values to us. This is against our values. It is illegal, immoral and against the Indian ethos."
One thing is not clearly understood by most of the people and leaders of the Asian, African and Arabian countries: that no Western government is insisting that any individual become a homosexual. The Western leaders are merely asking the rest of the world not to discriminate against homosexuals -- not to abuse them, not to humiliate them.
We can ask the reactionaries how, nowadays, can homosexuality be considered as crime against nature? It is not clear to the theologians of the underdeveloped countries why they are so deadly aggressively against this behavior. They are even not clear what is the moral objection to it.
But enlightened Westerners are clear: sexual relations that occur between consenting adults in private are no business of the law or of the government.
In 1955 The American Law Institute, and in 1957 the English Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution, both concluded that homosexual behavior between consenting adults in private should be removed from the jurisdiction of the criminal law.
Fortunately, India broke free of the curse of the Section 377 of the Indian penal code, whatever the Indian conservative section of the society says, and how the politicians use the term homosexual. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was a peace of legislation introduced in 1861, under the British colonial rule, that criminalized sexual activity "against the order of the nature." The explanation was, whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the "order of the nature" with any man, woman or animal would be punished with imprisonment for life. Penetration was sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offense described in this section.
To repeal that section, an activist group, the Naz Foundation Trust, filed a public interest litigation brief in the Delhi High Court in 2001; the Trust sought legalization of homosexual intercourse between consenting adults. The Delhi High Court, however, in 2003, refused to consider it on the grounds that the petitioners had no locus standi in the matter. The Naz Foundation Trust then appealed to the case to the Supreme Court, which decided that the Foundation did have the standing to file a Public Interest Litigation in the case, and sent the case back to the High Court. At last, on July 2009, The High Court delivered a historic judgment to topple the 150-year-old section. Thus, India stepped forward with the historic judgment toward liberty of an individual.
Unfortunately, Bangladesh and Pakistan are strongly fastened to the same law introduced by the same colonial government. While both countries have thousands of invisible homosexuals, they can be at anytime brought up before the Courts. The notorious symbol of hatred, Section 377, desperately needs to be erased from the penal code. Whatever the religiously dominant societies do, states cannot be so unsympathetic to its people, regardless of how few or how many there are who wish to have the human right of any adult to choose a lifestyle that does not bring harm to anyone else and in the privacy of one"s home, without fear of going to jail for life.