In fact religious leaders of different faiths in the country talking united on one voice on any issue is something that does not often happen. But the subject of gay rights and whether homosexuality ought to be decriminalized brought together all of them. Initially, it was the Christian clergy who seemed to be more vocal and was the religious face on television channels but later others joined in too. But is the matter of gay rights, a religious issue? Partly yes, partly no, perhaps. [...]
A larger question to be confronted is whether morality ought be enforced through law or preached persuasively as a lifestyle. History proves that criminalizing anything merely drives people underground. A century or more of the provision of law penalizing “act of carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal an offence” has obviously not prevented the development of a robust gay movement in the country. Neither has for instance, more than 60 years of keeping Gujarat a dry state done much to keep people from consuming illicit hooch and dying.
So clearly the matter is far more complex. Clearly the government will not find it easy to break this impasse. Obviously, social laws cannot be passed by ignoring religious sentiments when all the major religions have united to raise a chorus of support against the granting of gay rights, because it is against bharatiya sanskriti or Indian culture.
But we must remember that in 1829, when the practice of Sati was being banned through the efforts of Raja Ram MohanRoy, William Carey and others, obscurantist elements had sought shelter under the same veneer of culture and tradition. So, in the mean while rather than trying to be God and pass judgment on those individuals, a better option may be to offer prayers to those struggling with their homosexuality and society’s largely hostile responses to them.