Do you believe gays and heterosexuals have the same rights? Do they have equal duties?

1,406 Views Updated: 07 Sep 2016
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Do you believe gays and heterosexuals have the same rights? Do they have equal duties?

“My belief is that there is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.”

― W. Somerset Maugham

Going by Maugham's observation one can clearly understand that the display of anyone's sexual life in public will be a source of outrage and horror because sexuality since time immemorial has been a topic that has been hushed under the carpet. According to Michel Foucault's theory of 'Repressive Hypothesis,' it is said that with the rise of bourgeoisie spending one's energy on anything that gave pleasure was looked upon with contempt. Thus since the 18th century, once the bourgeoisie started accumulating more and more power sex has been treated as a practical activity that must be kept private and can only happen between the husband and wife. Sex was seen as the means to facilitate reproduction. Gradually the discourse of sex got confined to marriage.

Heterosexual activities between a man and woman that resulted in reproduction were thus normalized while any other sexual activity that did not fall into the signified paradigm of normalcy was defined as unnatural. Therefore all attempts were made to repress it. Thus any sexually intimate activities between individuals of the same sex were scandalized and even considered to be criminal. 

Thus homosexuals have been the victims of several kinds of injustice since the ancient times. But one cannot possibly define homosexuality to be a recent development. It has been a part of society since ancient times. There are strong references to homosexuality in ancient Greece, China, Latin America and many other places. But with the changing times, homosexuality was condemned, and homosexuals had to face all sorts of atrocities.

    This repression gave rise to the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) movement that advocated equal rights for the people belonging to the LGBTQ group and their full acceptance in society. Over the years there have been many agitations all over the world for LGBT rights. It has even led to many reforms like in 1973 the American Psychiatric Association scrapped off "homosexuality" from the diagnostics manual of mental illness. 

The LGBTQ movement has made a great progress ever since its inception. However, in many parts of the world sexual activities between people of the same sex is considered to be a crime and gays often find themselves at the receiving end of the political, legal, and social stigmatization. Even in India homosexuality is still considered to be a crime and homosexuals become a victim of a social boycott. This was very well portrayed in the film 'Aligarh' starring Manoj Bajpayee and Rajkumar Rao. This film was based on the real-life incident of Professor Siras of Aligarh Muslim University who became a victim of professional politics and was victimized on the grounds of his homosexuality. The film is a poignant depiction of how gays are ill-treated in our society and stripped off basic human rights.

    It must be kept in mind that it is completely a person's personal choice as to with whom he or she wants to engage in a sexual act. The repressive apparatus of the state has no role to play in it. As long as the person is a citizen of the country he or she is entitled to all the rights that a heterosexual person is entitled to. Homosexual rights include: allowing sexual act between same sex individuals, same-sex marriages that will be recognized by the government, acknowledgment and recognition of LGBT parenting, equal access to medical facilities that assist reproduction with the help of technology. 

There have to be some protective laws against the members of the LGBTQ community due to the long history of atrocities against them. These include anti-bullying and anti-discrimination laws, equality in immigration laws, equality in the age of consent laws. Once all these rights are guaranteed to a homosexual, the society would evolve to become a much better place to live in.

If we are talking about rights, then duties are like the other side of the coin that cannot be ignored. Homosexuals must perform all the duties like any other heterosexual. Not letting a homosexual perform his or her duty is also a way of ostracizing him or her. Thus to make the world more conducive for everyone, where there is no discrimination made by sexuality homosexuals should be given equal rights and duties. In this way, we can truly bring to effect what Adrienne Rich said,

"If you are trying to transform a brutalized society into one where people can live in dignity and hope, you begin with the empowering of the most powerless. You build from the ground up.” 

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