Even though 2018 was marked as the year of love when the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality and made it possible for everyone to chose and live by the sexual orientation of their choice, we still have archaic waves of despair following us.
General Bipin Rawat, the Chief of Army Staff suggested that that the Supreme Court’s decision on gay sex marriage will not be implemented in the Army and any such actions pertaining to that are forbidden.
However, at the same time, he also emphasised on the fact that the Army is not above the law. But because any Supreme Court verdict can be challenged, the law is definitely not being implemented in the forces for now, according to General Rawat.
“We are not above the country’s law but when you join the Indian Army, some of the rights and privileges you enjoy are not what we have. Some things are different for us, but we are certainly not above the Supreme Court,” he said.
“We will have to see how we take a call, let us also see how it comes into the society, whether it’s accepted or not… I can’t say what will happen 20 years down the line.”
We agree that the Army follows a certain decree of taking away certain fundamental rights from its personnel due to security reasons like the right to freedom of expression etc., which can fit in because it can create belligerent situations if the right is practised within the forces, but taking away the right to decide one’s sexual orientation is a daunting proposition and is legally incorrect to oppose, anywhere.
The fact that women were allowed in combat in 2017 after a long haul indicates the barriers the Army has against giving equal opportunities to all the sexes. Women can now enter the Army and train to combat on the field. But this wasn’t allowed before 2017 because of safety issues that posed as a threat for women who wanted to join the Armed Forces. Now, we are witnessing another restriction in the forces that is definitely denting the very fabric of individuality and the right to liberty, in general.
“Aap logon me chalega to chalne do. Humare yahan nahi chalega (We will not allow this to happen in the Army) In the army LGBT issues… are not unacceptable. We will still be dealing with them under various sections of the Army Act,” said General Rawat, addressing his annual press conference.
The callous references made towards the LGBT movement by the General, which won a fair space in the country last year is edging on the narrow-minded thought process of a few people who do not understand it. Which is fair I agree, but to take the basic right away from men and women alike, who give up their lives for the country is absolutely unfair and this is something which General Rawat may never understand.
According to him, the Army is ‘very conservative’ and anything that probes the very archaic fabric of the forces will be disqualified. He also backed his claim by saying ‘we are neither modem or westernised’ which is an absolutely fair statement to make amidst the very opaque fragment of patriotism we serve our country with, but in all fairness, being a particular way and choosing your sexual orientation really has nothing to do with being modern or being westernised. It’s something one’s born with.
We’re hopelessly disappointed by statements made by General Bipin Rawat on the LGBT movement and its application in the Indian Army, especially after a gruelling time the entire movement went through for many years in the country.
It took a five-bench constitution bench of the SC to finally rule out section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which banned ‘consensual unnatural sex’. But unfortunately, we’re still fighting the cause fundamentally, within the most pristine forces of our country and we hope this too changes someday.