glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
home
arts
literature
social sciences
special features
discussion
about glbtq
   search

 
   Encyclopedia
   Discussion
 
 

   member name
  
   password
  
 
   
   Forgot Your Password?  
   
Not a Member Yet?  
   
JOIN TODAY. IT'S FREE!

 
  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy
  Copyright

 

 

 

 

 
social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Bookmark and Share
India  
 
page: 1  2  3  

Modern India, the largest nation in South Asia, and one of the largest in the world, is an extremely diverse country--ethnically, linguistically, religiously, and culturally. Indian thought about sexuality and gender has been shaped by many factors, including religion and the influence of various ethnic groups. In the past, Indian thought towards same-sex eroticism and gender variance seems to have more tolerant than it is today.

Currently, the major religions of India are Hinduism and Islam. While Christianity is not a predominant religion in India today, Western thought derived from the Judeo-Christian tradition has left its mark on India through colonialism.

Sponsor Message.

Under British rule in 1860, was outlawed in India, and it remained so until a court ruling in 2009. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code condemned those who engage in sodomy to imprisonment of up to ten years or life. In practice, however, punishments tended to be less than this.

Over the years, the definition of sodomy provided by the code was challenged, but was established in a 1982 case as any act of non-coital sex. The law was not used to punish women engaging in lesbian sex, but it was used to threaten them.

At the end of the twentieth century, activists in the small glbtq equality movement began attempts to repeal the repressive law, which had a powerfully stigmatizing effect even though it was not widely enforced.

Finally, on July 3, 2009, the Delhi High Court issued a landmark ruling, which declared that "that treating relations between consenting adult homosexuals as a crime is a violation of basic human rights safeguarded under the Indian Constitution."

Announcement of the decision inspired celebratory rallies in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and other major Indian cities. It was denounced by religious figures and groups, but others regarded it approvingly as evidence of India's movement toward modernization.

When the government subsequently declined to appeal the ruling, homosexuality was decriminalized throughout the vast nation.

Despite decriminalization, modern Indian attitudes towards remain, in many ways, a legacy of colonialism. There was never the same kind of organized, systematic persecution of homosexual behavior in pre-colonial India as there was in Medieval or Early-Modern Europe. Nevertheless, Indian societies have traditionally placed a strong emphasis on reproduction. Therefore, impotence, more than homoerotic behavior, has traditionally been a locus of shame for Indians.

Hijras

Hijras, sometimes described as "neither man nor woman," have existed in India for centuries, though they were called by other names in the remote past. Many are men with passive homoerotic sexual proclivities who are ritually castrated; others are intersexed or otherwise impotent persons. They generally wear women's clothing and typically live in small communes.

The hijras maintain a third-gender role that has become institutionalized by tradition within Hindu and even Indo-Islamic communities. With the increasing Westernization of India, the plight of hijras has become more difficult, and they are increasingly dependent on prostitution for their livelihood.

Persons

Non-castrated, male-to-female transgendered jhankas or zenanas also practice prostitution in India. They are not hijras, though some aspire to become part of hijra communities.

    page: 1  2  3   next page>  
 
zoom in
Top: India and neighboring countries in 2004.
Center: A monk masturbates a man in this sculpture in the Temple of Visvanatha, Khajuraho, India (built ca 1000 C.E.).
Above: This sixteenth or seventeenth century painting depicts two men and a woman copulating.

  
 interact  
   
Contact Us
 
Join the Discussion
 
 find 
   
Related Entries
 
More Entries by this contributor
 
A Bibliography on this Topic

 
Citation Information
 
More Entries about Social Sciences
 
   
spacer
Popular Topics:

Literature

 
Williams, Tennessee
Williams, Tennessee


Literary Theory: Gay, Lesbian, and Queer


The Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance


Romantic Friendship: Female
Romantic Friendship: Female


Feminist Literary Theory


American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969
American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969


Erotica and Pornography
Erotica and Pornography


Mishima, Yukio
Mishima, Yukio


Sadomasochistic Literature


Beat Generation
Beat Generation

 
 


 

 

This Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.

www.glbtq.com is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.