Between Same Sex Contact and Identity: Politics of Homosexuality in Contemporary World

In an article published in this blog ( ‘Delhi out of the Closet’ on 07.05.2009), we have learned that New Delhi’s higher court “overturned the gay sex ban.” The article says:

“Homosexuality became illegal in 1861 when, under British rule, Section 377 of the Indian penal court was passed that prohibited ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal’.”

What strikes me here is that the law was approached as colonial legacy, a reminder of the British rule that left its mark on the Indian society. This approach, however, misses an important point ; What was the situation before 1861? We can conclude from the above sentence that it wasn’t codified before 1861. Legality or illegality probably was not a matter of discussion. The right question may be how the society treated the issue; tolerant, indifferent or discontentful? Maybe it wasn’t a public issue at all. Perhaps the issue belonged to the private sphere as people didn’t see it as something to be publicized.

The rule has reminded me an interesting argument by Joseph Masad on the project of universalization of ‘gay rights’. I will simplify this sophisticated claim: What he calls ‘Gay International’, a group of organizations, discourses that have a ‘missionary’ role of saving and protecting human rights of the people who are discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation in especially non-Western world, led to the incitement to discourse in these countries. (in Arab Muslim countries) One outcome of this ‘incitement to discourse’ is the emergence of anti-homosexual law and harassment of these people by police, while before this discourse there wasn’t any law against same sex contact. Gay International’s mission is to “liberate Arab and Muslim ‘gays and lesbians’ from the oppression under which they allegedly live by transforming them from practitioners of same-sex contact into subjects who identify as homosexual and gay.” (Masad 2002, p.362) According to Gay International, same sex contact does not make the person a gay, rather they consider this kind of person as ‘not yet caught up in liberatory Western gay model.’

Distinction between same sex contact and homosexuality / gayness as identity makes the tolerance argument futile…

Climate change in Pictures


Recently declassified photos taken from a US spy satellite show the impact of climate change on coastal waters. This particular one shows the Alaskan sea-port of Barrow where we see ice floating near the coast in July 2006, and the other one, taken a year later, shows an entirely ice-free coastline. Temperatures in Barrow have increased by 30 degrees in the past 40 years. Source: Guardian

Images are striking reminders. If you come across pictures that show the impact of climate change on the landscape, do send them in.

Burqas and High Heels

php1ji7bgPMFrench President Nicholas Sarkozy, aka the husband of Carla Bruni, recently proposed a ban on the burqa, a garment worn by Muslim women, saying that the garment reduced them to servitude and undermined their dignity. In a speech to the French Parliament, the first by a president since the 19th century, Mr. Sarkozy likened the burqa to a prison and said “That is not the idea that the French republic has of women’s dignity”. BBC

This radical and provocative proposal comes at a time when Europe is struggling to deal with new demographics and cultural diversity. This proposal has re-launched debates about how France, and Europe in general, would deal with the new cultural trends that large scale Muslim migration to Europe entails. France has previously banned sikh turbans and headscarves from schools. BBC

The key question here are the rights of immigrant women in the French state. The proposal is full of rhetoric about freedom and dignity of women in the face of what Mr. Sarkozy perceives to be an oppressive culture. Western feminists have pointed out the pitfalls that liberal attitudes towards immigrant culture entail for women, most famously Susanne Muller Okin in her essay ‘Is Multiculturalism bad for women?’-

It is by no means clear, then, from a feminist point of view, that minority group rights are “part of the solution.” They may well exacerbate the problem. In the case of a more patriarchal minority culture in the context of a less patriarchal majority culture, no argument can be made on the basis of self-respect or freedom that the female members of the culture have a clear interest in its preservation. Indeed, they may be much better off if the culture into which they were born were either to become extinct (so that its members would become integrated into the less sexist surrounding culture) or, preferably, to be encouraged to alter itself so as to reinforce the equality of women—at least to the degree to which this is upheld in the majority culture

Okin wants the state to intervne in the domestic sphere of immigrant lives, saying that opressive practices usually take place behind closed doors. While I do understand and relate with the Okins concern, I do think that there is a difference between choice and coercion. What I find unaccpetable is Sarkozy’s condescension when he assumes that everyone wearing the burqa is coerced into it.

Long Live the King

Globalistan mourns the passing of MJ. Few artists could match the truly global appeal of MJ, so much that he inspired thousands of imitators and look alikes all over the world.

So, we think it would be a fitting commemoration to Michael Jackson if we can post videos of MJ inspired videos from different parts of the world. Here is the Indian version of Thriller, with hilarious lyrics:

“I loved him…once the World Trade Center came down, I changed my mind”


This week two stories related to racist discrimination caught my eye. The first of these is from Dresden, not too far from a our beloved Leipzig, within a region that has been host to a spate of racist attacks.

It was while Marwa el-Sherbini was in the dock recalling how the accused had insulted her for wearing the hijab after she asked him to let her son sit on a swing last summer, that the very same man strode across the Dresden courtroom and plunged a knife into her 18 times.

Her three-year-old son Mustafa was forced to watch as his mother slumped to the courtroom floor.

Even her husband Elvi Ali Okaz could do nothing as the 28-year-old Russian stock controller who was being sued for insult and abuse took the life of his pregnant wife. As Okaz ran to save her, he too was brought down, shot by a police officer who mistook him for the attacker. He is now in intensive care in a Dresden hospital…

…Unemployed Alex W. from Perm in Russia was found guilty last November of insulting and abusing Sherbini, screaming “terrorist” and “Islamist whore” at her, during the Dresden park encounter. He was fined ¤780 but had appealed the verdict, which is why he and Sherbini appeared face to face in court again.


This story has led to widespread protests within immigrants in Germany, as well as in Egypt, the homeland of the deceased. What surprises me here is the fact that the assailant, with known anti-islamic sentiments, was able to bring a knife into the courtroom? Would it be the same if the case was against a Jewish person in Germany? And even more surprising is that the police mistook the husband for the assailant? Especially after the guy had stabbed her 18 times?


The other story was carried in the New York Times, which investigated the of Tanveer Ahmed, a 43 year old immigrant who died in detention, and whose death went unreported for 3 years.

A World Beyond Stereotypes: A life in Leipzig, Germany

By Mikhaila Alana Cupido

This essay won the first prize in the ‘World Beyond Stereotypes’ essay competition organized by Uni Leipzig

Pocahontas has always been one of my favourite stories as a kid, and at the ripe old age of twenty-three I realized how she must have felt when her ship boarded in England. When I arrived at the Leipzig Hauptbahnhof weary, very tired and already homesick I could’ve sworn that a million eyes watched me as I struggled to get my very heavy bag labeled with the South African flag out of the train. Then trying to guess which one of the millions of German woman standing around could be the one that I was looking for. To this day I am glad that a Coloured female South African along with an Afrikaner male South African conveniently sticks out in a crowd and we were found in no time.

I wish that I could say after having been here for so long that my daily dose of humour concerning where I come from has ended, but alas no. And on the upside it almost always makes my day, so I won’t complain. Here in Leipzig people often take the time to ask me completely random questions … but then again … as a student I have learnt that if you never ask, you might just never know. So I guess being asked random questions are a must, to keep in check what it is that German citizens or even Europeans think and know about Coloured South Africans.

In 2006 I very enthusiastically left my comfort zone to tackle a new continent and a new life. I come from Cape Town, and where I grew up everyone is Coloured and almost everyone talks like me, has my skin colour, and more importantly hair like mine. And then I arrived in Leipzig and not everyone knew this, much to my dismay.

‘This Isn’t Us’

Check out this video produced by a number of Pakistani pop-musicians that is all the rave in Pakistan. ‘Yeh Hum nahin’ which means ‘This is not us’ in Urdu is a song aimed at condemning terrorism. What fascinates me about this is the attempt at redefinition of identity that goes in procliaming ‘this is not us’.

This song became a sensation in Pakistan giving rise to the a campaign against terrorism by major artists and TV personalities. The YHN campaign has currently got 62.8 million signatures for a petition condemning terrorism, surely making it one of the biggest petitions in history.

It also represents an positive in the debate on terrorism in Pakistan. The website of the foundation that is behind the YHN campaign asks ‘Are we the ones depriving mothers of their children? Are we the ones destroying our own future?’.  This tacit admission of terrorism being a very much a home-grown problem is refreshingly distant from the past attitudes of Pakistanis who, following the state, would blame India, America or Israel.

Delhi out of the Closet


A Globalistani cheer for Gay Rights activists in India who prevailed on the Delhi High Court to overturn a ban on gay sex.

Homosexuality became illegal in 1861 when, under British rule, Section 377 of the Indian penal court was passed that prohibited “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”.

The Delhi HC scrapped down the law:

“We declare that Section 377 of IPC in so far as it criminalises consensual sexual acts of adults in private is violative of Articles 14, 21 and 15 of the Constitution”.

This is big, considering that the ruling beyond decriminalizing,  also offers legal protection to homosexuals in anti-discrimination laws.

This does not mean discrimination will go away. Some people are already calling it doomsday for Indian culture and civilization which, by the way, has been happily celebrating homosexuality in sculptures and poems for thousands of years. The Church says that this would lead to an increase in pedophilia, which is bit rich coming from an institution accused of shifting pedophiles from parish to parish to protect them.

Reader Puneet Gera writes this on the rediff message board:

first time in life,I despite being Indian,accept Pakistan is a better country than India,atleast gay sex is not legalised there.They have maintained their cultural values.I salute you Pakistan for your good values.

The One Line Project

The one line project is a stab at providing a different avenue of expression for global themes and individual experiences. The aim is to link people through the
contribution of one line to an ongoing story. Read what’s been written, and add your line, so that we can create something cohesive out of many separate pieces.

Every line needs to relate to what’s already been written, but should provide context or direction of its own.

The first line is…

People invest too much time and energy in pretending they aren’t animals.

Land of the Free

800px-flag_of_united_states_and_germanysvg_by Lisa Sturm

Land of the free, home of the brave, in a plane I landed in California. The sun shines and the people have open minds. Long blond hair, beaches, surfers, free thinkers, California of the mind.
You are from Germany? Yes.
Where is your blond hair and blue eyes? What?
I thought Germans had blond hair and blue eyes? Some, I guess.
Well, you are on time, so that makes sense.
And then a Hitler joke here and there and a Nazi reference or two and California begins to look less like I thought. Shopping malls, fast food restaurants, chain stores and more chain stores, the California of my mind looks more like fantasy. The mall people begin to outnumber the rest, cardboard cutouts, walking hollow forms, this is California? I check my mind, my brain for what I know…I search and see on occasion, but most look like the way I imagine the rest of the USA.

Ok, ya, um, like. That sounds right. Hello, I am from Germany. An over-the-top Nein is the response. Or sometimes an ugly Ja. Some more Nazi jokes and questions of the past, it’s not easy being German. Expected efficient, reparations for the past, lederhosen, dirndls, beer drinking and pretzels, these are expected.

Ja, ok, nein, ach. That sounds right. Hey, I am from California. An over-the-top Dude is the response. Or sometimes a stoner Bro. Some more surfer jokes and questions of the beach, it’s not easy being Californian. Expected coolness, recollections of the 60s, swim shorts, surfboards, pot smoking and sushi, these are expected.

Bro. Ja. Smoke? Nein. Bier? Nah. Surf? Nein. Bretzel? Nah. Sushi? Nein?

Election day. George Bush will be gone but California never had him. Bush and California do not go together. The right does not exist here (in the back of my mind I forget that Schwarzenegger is a Republican). Proposition 8. The fight against gay-marriage, that cannot stand a chance in California. California is too open-minded, San Francisco gay-friendly, L.A. as well; this does not stand a chance. California would never take someone’s rights away. It can’t happen here, maybe in Texas, but not here.

Obama wins, gay-marriage loses. How can this happen in California?