Prudish Victorian Brits Were to Blame for India’s Ban on ‘Buggery’

Illustration for article titled Prudish Victorian Brits Were to Blame for India’s Ban on ‘Buggery’

More than 60 years after Indian independence from the tightly-laced and genitally-discreet British Isles, India's Supreme Court has lifted a ban on gay sex, — or what some of you who've been following the pleasure cruise news this week may now know as buggery — and the country's chief law officer G. E Vahanvati blamed the British Raj (1858-1947) for its repressive stance against homosexuality.


Vahanvati, arguing for an end to the ban, offered his audience a concise historical overview of the India's first acquaintance with Victorian prudishness:

Indian society prevalent before the enactment of the [British] Indian Penal Code [in 1860] had a much greater tolerance for homosexuality than its British counterpart, which at this time was under the influence of Victorian morality and values in regard to family and the procreative nature of sex.

Though government officials sought to retain the anachronistic British law that criminalized homosexual sex acts as "unnatural," they were forced to change their policy after a 2009 court decision found that the law was discriminatory. During this penultimate hearing on the legality of gay sex, court officials pondered why it had taken India so long to overturn a law that ran counter to the country's storied legacy of fabulously gay epic heroes, such as those, according to leading gay-rights activist Manish Kabir, that abound in the Mahabharata.

Kabir cautioned that, even with the ruling, it will take time to erode more than a century of Victorian sexual angst and frustration. "But things," said Kabir, "are opening up and the society is getting aware about homosexuals and gradually they will show tolerance towards them and finally accept them." Hey, India, that's super cool that you aren't letting the British hold sway over your sexual prejudices anymore and that you guys are trying to be super cool about the gays — would now be an importunate time to ask when Indian women can expect to be liberated from an oppressive patriarchy?

British Raj ‘Victorian prudery' to blame for Indian gay sex ban [Telegraph]



The last line rubs me the wrong way. It's not like women in the west don't live in a patriarchy, too, there's little justification to go on our high horses over it. Also, in terms of law, Indian women are no more oppressed than we are, as far as I'm aware.