Article 377 repealed, Bollywood’s out-of-the-closet Onir and Apurva Asrani overjoyed

Hopefully, gay people like me would now find it easier to find love. Loving someone is no longer an act of crime. I am no longer a criminal, said filmmaker Onir

Photo courtesy: Twitter/ @IamOnir
Photo courtesy: Twitter/ @IamOnir

Subhash K Jha

In a historic decision on Thursday, the Supreme Court decriminalised gay sex, which has been lauded by people all across the country. Bollywood is also joyous. Its only out-of-the-closet filmmaker Onir was overwhelmed with emotions.

“What can I say? I am rendered speechless with joy. The tears can’t stop flowing. I am celebrating by cooking sausages for my entire office. I am single so I don’t have anyone to celebrate this historic moment with. Hopefully all my lovers who left me because they were afraid to come out, will now look back with regret at the hurt they caused me. Hopefully, gay people like me would now find it easier to find love. Loving someone is no longer an act of crime. I am no longer a criminal. My congratulations to all those vocal and fearless members of the LGBT community. Without their relentless fight this historic day wouldn’t have happened. In my own little way I’ve carried on my own fight against this dastardly discrimination. When I made My Brother Nikhil about a gay relationship,I couldn’t show any intimacy between my two actors Purab Kohli and Sanjay Suri.

This was in 2005. Now 13 years later when I showed intimacy between a gay couple in Shab, I was rebuked by members of the censor board, ‘Yeh bache kaise dekhenge?’ When I made I Am in which a cop was shown bullying a homosexual man into performing oral sex, I had the strength to fight the censor board. Because that is the reality outside the movie theatre. But this time with Shab, I just took the cuts silently. It’s been a year since Shab was released in theatres. We still haven’t found any satellite channel that is willing to buy the film.

Hopefully now gay filmmakers and films can find more acceptance. The bigotry is of course much deeper. But this is a huge step ahead for the gay community. With the Government decriminalising homosexuality, discrimination for jobs and at work places will reduce considerably.

Within our own entertainment industry there is so much homophobia that would now have to end. So many people who are afraid to come out in the fear of losing their reputation would now do so fearlessly. And I hope filmmakers other than me will make films about the gay community. And not the phoney kind of gay films .”

Gay film writer Apurva Asrani too was elated and hoped that a life time of being bullied may now come to an end. “Hard to find words when the tears won’t stop. It’s been a life time of inequality and discrimination. Of being unfairly deemed a criminal. Of being the butt of many jokes. Of knowing that I can’t hold public office even if I want to. From today that will start to change. How long it will take? Will the road be easy? I have no idea.

All I know is that nobody has the legal right to discriminate against me anymore. And for that I am grateful to all the rainbow warriors, starting with Ashok Row Kavi, the good people Humsafar and Naz, Anjali Gopalan, Anand Grover, Menaka Guruswami, all the petitioners, and every single LGBTQ person who lived their truth through years of darkness. So much gratitude also to the 5 justices who truly lived up to their tribes,” he said.

Film actress and activist Shabana Azmi too lauded the activists who fought hard and long to arrive at this victory. Sharing her happiness over the judgement, she said, “Finally ! I haven’t read the report but this was long overdue. It’s barbaric to criminalise people for a consensual relationship. The concept of family is changing and decriminalising 377 is a very important step towards recognising that everyone has a right to family. 2 fathers and a child, 2 mothers and a child , a mother and father and a child …. This historic step also helps in recognising that a lot of heterosexual relationships are not “normal” by any stretch of imagination. What is “normal” is culture-specific and there can’t be one monolithic standard that has sanctity above all else. My warmest regards to those who fought this inhuman section 377 and made the victory possible.”

Actress Dia Mirza said, “About time!!! Supreme Court restores my faith in our people yet again. Proud that my country believes in and upholds equality. Two consenting adults irrespective of sex, religion, cast and gender cannot be rendered criminals by the law.What an amazing day!!!”

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