Describing sexuality as a fundamental aspect of human life, the Justice J.S. Verma Committee has said all sexual identities are entitled to protection. Since the possibility of sexual assault on men, as well as homosexual, transgender and transsexual rape, is a reality, the legal provisions have to be cognisant of the same, it said.
“We must add that transgender communities are also entitled to an affirmation of gender autonomy. Our cultural prejudices must yield to Constitutional principles of equality, empathy and respect,” it said.
The Constitution enables change of beliefs, greater understanding and is also an equally guaranteed instrument to secure the rights of sexually despised minorities, the Verma Committee has said in its report on ‘Amendments to Criminal Laws’ submitted to the government on Wednesday.
“If human rights of freedom mean anything, India cannot deny the citizens the right to be different. The state must not use oppressive and repressive labelling of despised sexuality. Thus, the right to sexual orientation is a human right guaranteed by the fundamental principles of equality.
Pointing out that we need to remember that the founding fathers of our Constitution never thought that the Constitution is a “mirror of perverse social discrimination,” the report says, on the contrary, it promised the mirror in which equality will be reflected brightly. “Thus, all sexual minorities, including transgender communities, are entitled to be totally protected.”
“We must also recognise that our society has the need to recognise different sexual orientations as a human reality. In addition to homosexuality, bisexuality, and lesbianism, there also exists the transgender community. “In view of the lack of scientific understanding of the different variations of orientation, even advanced societies have had to first declassify ‘homosexuality’ from being a mental disorder and now it is understood as a triangular development and neurological underpinning owing to genetic reasons,” said the report.
Suggesting that correct knowledge must be disseminated in respect of sexuality and sexual choices without enforcing gender stereotypes, the report says children need to be able to access informed, non-prejudiced sources on sexuality. Challenging the perception of sexuality as being purely heterosexual is an ongoing agenda for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activism and for counter-socialisation efforts. “Collaborating or networking LGBT activists is a beginning to understanding different sexuality experiences,” Justice Verma says in his report.
Recommending the use of theatrical resources and films in school workshops, which has proven to be extremely effective in gauging gender relations, the panel calls for the use of such audio-visual material to encourage respect and understanding for all genders and sexes.
Further, it says the skills of children and young adults to make informed decisions need to be nurtured and perceptions and social norms need to be relooked and revamped.