India, often celebrated as the largest democracy in the world and, despite observable ‘modernist’ trends and secularizing trajectories, remains a deeply religious culture displaying entrenched attitudes towards traditional family life and sexual conduct. In 2009, homosexuality was legalised by the High Court of the nation’s capital, Delhi. Although the repeal of the law prohibiting homosexual behaviour, instigated in 1860 during the British colonial period, only applied throughout the territory of the nation’s capital city, the reversal compelled India’s government to either appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court or nullify it. The ruling landmark brought to a head conflicting views of the legality and legitimacy of non-heterosexuality and, more broadly, symbolized the ongoing contestation between ‘progressive’ and ‘traditionalist’ elements in Indian society. This paper explores conservative Hindu responses in particular to non-heterosexual rights. It attempt to show that the current reaction by such constituencies displays inherently problematic posturing and even contradictions which are expressed through both religious and political discourse.
Key words: AIDS/HIV, Hinduism, India, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered (LGBT) sexualities, modernization, nationalism.
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