Published: 06th September 2018
Verdict on Sec 377 is rubbish, says LGBT activist and academic Ashley Tellis
The educator believes that the historic verdict does not deserve the fanfare that it has received and says that it won't make the difference that is really needed
In the wake of the historic Supreme Court verdict that decriminalised homosexuality, some individuals raise questions about whether the decision will have the impact that Indians have been anticipating. "I think the verdict is complete rubbish," says Ashley Tellis, an esteemed educator, who has had years of experience in Ramjas College, St Stephen's University, EFLU, St Joseph's College and various others, opines that the verdict does not deserve the fanfare that it has received since its announcement.
The Court's judgement has struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises any sexual act that is 'against the order of nature'. "All that has happened is a reading down of section 377. In the 90s, there was a demand for the complete repeal of Section 377. This hysteria is only coming from people who do not think about exactly what it means. This does not stray too far from the 2009 high court judgement. It did not change anything then and it does not change anything now," he explains.
"Nowhere does the section even mention the word homosexuality. It just talks about acts against the order of nature. It's a very Christian and Victorian set of ideas. It supposes that any sex which does not involve procreation is unnatural." He stresses that the verdict is not a repeal of section 377. Tellis adds, "It just renders privacy rights to elite gay people. I've made this point again and again. Nobody wants to listen because of the mindless hysteria around the subject."
He goes on to emphasise that it is the whole law that needs to go. He says, "Privacy in this context is a classist idea. Only people who have a bedroom can have privacy. Hijras on the road who are often forced to have public sex for money to survive don't have this privacy. They are harassed by the police, their clients and the societies around them. This doesn't change anything for them and the rest of the LGBTQ community on the ground. People have bedrooms and privacy everywhere. They don't need a special law to change that. This is something those who are privileged exercise anyway. I don't think there will be any actual change on the ground."
When asked about whether he foresees any change within the academic world and the dynamic between genders, Tellis answers, "Colleges are the most homophobic places. I just got sacked last year from St Joseph's College for being gay. I don't think this will change anything for educational institutions because it does not benefit the people that it needs to benefit."