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Pope Francis made a cool comment about gays and it makes him an absolute religious rock star

Pope Francis

Pope Francis is a rock star. The Church has never had so cool a Catholic leader, who espouses sensitive issues such as gender equality, champions climate change concerns and shows compassion to homosexuals.

Pope Francis said on Sunday that Christians and the Roman Catholic Church should ask for forgiveness from homosexuals for cutting them off the society. When devout Christians have always maintained distance from anything related to gay rights, calling it a crime against god, Pope Francis’ liberal comment on homosexuals can bring in a huge attitudinal change among the Catholics around the world.

The Catholic Church has never had so cool a leader, as Pope Francis

Contrast the Pope Francis ’s comment to India’s common view on gays. We deny that anything as “sickening” as homosexuality exists, and shoo it away from the collective psyche. The Section 377 fiasco best depicts India’s fear for homosexuals. The LGBTQ community sent out whoops of joy in 2009, when the Delhi High Court struck down Section 377, the archaic Colonial rule that criminalises homosexual acts.

A legacy of the prude Victorian era British rule, the court dismantled Section 377. With this, unlike many of us feared, the Indian society did not collapse. But in 2013, the Supreme Court overturned the High Court’s decision.

The LGBTQ community sent out whoops of joy in 2009, when the Delhi High Court struck down Section 377, the archaic Colonial rule that criminalises homosexual acts.

Shortly after the Supreme Court upheld Section 377, Maulana Madni, of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind said: “If these same sex couples adopt children, the child will grow up with a skewed version of a family. Society will disintegrate.”

Om Prakash Singhal, the Vice President of VHP, a group that otherwise can’t stand Muslims, agreed with the Maulana and said: “Homosexuality is against Indian culture, against nature and against science… The SC had protected our culture.”

“We will train them and (give homosexuals) medicines too,” quipped Goan sports and youth affairs minister Ramesh Tawadkar. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy was more vocal in his dissent. “Homos are genetically handicapped.”

Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev (left) had claimed that he could “cure” homosexuality through Yoga.

The most famous of all was Baba Ramdev’s statement, who claimed he could “cure” homosexuality through Yoga. Gulam Nabi Azad, former health minister had something similar to say: “Homosexuality is unnatural and a disease”.

Our homophobia is so big that we shy away from words like ‘lesbians’, humiliate gay men as “chakkas” or “hijras” and don’t acknowledge that the transgender people are a part of our society. Quite often, the penal code is misused by the police to harass, persecute, or blackmail the sexual minorities within India.

In 2015, there were 578 arrests under Section 377. Because the LGBTQ community is pushed into the dark corners of the society,  a 2014 report conducted by the World Bank states that India suffers a loss of between 0.1% and 1.7% of GDP because of homophobia.

In India, if someday, we discover that our children are inclined towards same sex, we will ask their cousins to rape or lure them in a bid to cure their “gay sickness.”

But amid all the homophobia we have a few emancipated leaders who have come out in support of decriminalising homosexuality in India. Last November, finance minister Arun Jaitley and his predecessor P Chidambaram unanimously agreed that the Supreme Court should not have reversed the Delhi high court order.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has been an avid supporter of gay rights, notwithstanding the scathing comments that he received from the BJP. RSS leader Dattatreya Hosabale first supported gay rights, and then as if suffering at the hands of those in the unit, did a surprising U-turn and described homosexuality as “socially immoral act”.

Arun Jaitley and P Chidambaram
Arun Jaitley’s (right) gay rights advocay must have made him the black sheep in the BJP family. His view is shared by his predecessor P Chidambaram (Left) from the Congress party

Such is our fear of being ostracised that we can’t be openly supportive of the LGBTQ group. But Pope Francis has shown the way. We can have our reservations about gays, but we can do better with tolerance and compassion.

About the author


Whether it’s women issues, politics or the paranormal, Rubi has an opinion on everything. Art and entertainment interest her, too. Hindu College alumni, she has written for The Hindustan Times and The Financial Express. Every now and then, she loves picking up her camera to capture life and its various shades.

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