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India’s attorney-general blames Victorian Britain for anti-gay laws

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  1. Sadly, its probably true… but that was nearly 65 years ago. We’ve moved on in that time, lots of countries have. Is it really a still a credible excuse? I’m not convinced it is.

    1. P.S. If blaming the Empire makes it easier for them to introduce equality and reject their homophobia then by all means, blame Britain. As long as modern Britain isn’t misrepresented I don’t really care.

    2. Jock S. Trap 25 Mar 2012, 3:19pm

      It’s neither credible nor convincing.

      It’s a desperate attempt at deflecting blame to anyone, everyone else but themselves.

      1. I agree with you. Utter rot. the Indians still have these laws because of Indian, not British, homophobia

        1. Jock S. Trap 26 Mar 2012, 1:40pm

          Exactly. These people are quite able to make up their Own minds? It’s kinda insulting to suggest they can’t.

    3. No Alex, you’re right. It’s a load of (Indian) anti-British xenophobic rubbish. As you say, they – successive Indian Governments – have had 65 years to change whatever they liked. And they have. If Indian Governments have kept this homophobic rot on their statute books that’s because they wanted to. Nothing to do with Britain.

  2. Probably true. But the people who created those laws are long dead. Make sure they are ripped up and left in the past where they belong.

    1. The people who created the laws, the laws themselves or both? :D

  3. Craig Nelson 24 Mar 2012, 10:47pm

    This is not about blame but a case before the Indian Supreme Court (actually a very important one) about decriminalising homoseuality only completed quite recently in the whole of the UK.

    Those opposing decriminalisation are arguing homosexuality is un-Indian so it is important to demonstrate homosexuality was accepted before British rule and the simple historical fact that Britain exported the criminalisation of homosexuality alongside colonial rule.

    1. That’s a very interesting point, thanks for highlighting the issue.

    2. chris lowcase 25 Mar 2012, 12:51am

      well put. cant help but feel this should have been included. i worry that lots of people are going to take what the attorney general said way out of context.

  4. a yoga guru.

    is that like an imam? or an evangelical?

    1. Like the worst of the greediest and most grasping US televangelists, one of those even the presidents suck up to.

    2. thats nothing like either of it it is just a master who teaches yoga and has forgotten what is his business he is making a fuss about it because he is a homophobe.

  5. There’s already gay marriage in Argentina, but not in the Malvinas Islands… go figure…

    1. The world has moved on, but some peeps are still frozen in a colonial timewarp bitterly dreaming of a past great grandiose grandeur … If the Malvinas colonists gave the stolen islands back to their rightful owners, they’d be instantly granted marriage equality, but for some twisted motive, they want to serve a homophobic queen. Quintessentially masochists.

      1. The ‘rightful owners’ – do you mean the French, who first settled the previously uninhabited islands?

        Actually, the people who live there should be given the right to choose whom they want to be governed by; and given that most of the occupants of the Falklands are of British descent I imagine they’d choose to remain under British rule. Or do you not believe in democratic choice, Beberts?

        1. Jock S. Trap 26 Mar 2012, 1:44pm

          Good question Rehan, me thinks I know the answer too, eh Beberts?

        2. For much of the World, it’s quite clear the rightful owners are the Argentines. The French, English, Spanish and Portuguese are former colonial powers and have to co-operate with the UN Decolonisation Committee, where the Malvinas case is one of a few still waiting for a solution. The Malvinas case is complicated, and cannot be resolved by your simple “democratic choice” catchphrase …

          1. So you believe the present occupants of this windswept backwater have no say in their own future? interesting. Do you believe the Channel Islands should be given ‘back’ to the French too?

          2. The Malvinas colonists are only one of the pieces in a puzzle. Their opinions are counted but cannot be taken in isolation. At the moment they depend on what Argentina and Britain decide between them. The Channel Islands aren’t a disputed territory.

          3. Jock S. Trap 27 Mar 2012, 11:04am

            Clearly the Islanders feel very differently, surely It’s them that make the decision not us.

          4. Jock S. Trap 27 Mar 2012, 11:06am

            Besides Argentina is only making noise purely because of the oil that’s been found.Pure greed on the Argentines side.

      2. Jock S. Trap 26 Mar 2012, 1:42pm

        Well you prove time after time that you are such a person stuck in a bitter timewarp.

  6. I wonder if a “blame the British” campaign against homophobia would work here in the US? If it weren’t for those intolerant pilgrims and puritans …

    1. Rayne Van-Dunem 25 Mar 2012, 3:29am

      It might, at least if you couple it with a significant amount of jingoism and nationalist rage. If it can become increasingly safe to be gay and populist conservative nationalist in Western Europe, “blame the British” can work alongside “do you want to be like those crazies in the Muslim countries with shar-ee-yuh law?!” to arouse a conservative “gay-straight alliance” of Middle American Main Streeters.

      There are some who are doing just that, but the volume dial for populist gay-straight conservatism has not yet been turned up to 11 to make an impact.

    2. I guess we’re destined to be the scapegoat of the world then :P As i said before, as long as modern Britain isn’t misrepresented I don’t care. perhaps a better slogan would be ‘blame the empire.’

    3. Jock S. Trap 26 Mar 2012, 1:44pm

      Why not it’s just as ridiculous so guessing it would work.

  7. Homosexual acts have been legal in French colonies since 1796.In Spanish Colonies since 1805. they are still illegal in most former british colonies!
    Says it all!

    1. Rayne Van-Dunem 25 Mar 2012, 3:23am

      It does say quite a bit. It’s why there are still former French colonies in Africa which do not have de jure bans on homosexuality, although a de facto prohibition persists in these countries.

      We can go on about how Britain established and spread the Westminster system of government, English language, Anglicanism, common law system and other things around the world, but it also spread the tyranny of sodomy laws in such a pervasive and festering way that we in countries like the US still have yet to get over it.

      1. The USA ceased being British colonies over 220 years ago, and most of the laws we’re referring to in other countries date from the 19c anyway, so I think in this instance the USA can take responsibility for its own bigotry without blaming the British.

        1. Rayne Van-Dunem 26 Mar 2012, 3:34am

          Yet decriminalization of homosexuality only started taking place in any of the former British colonies – US, Canada, Australia, South Africa, India – within the last 40 years.

          I mean, why has it taken all of the former British colonies so long in comparison to former French and Spanish colonies to decriminalize homosexuality? Why did it take until the U.S. state of lIlinois removing its sodomy law in 1961 for ANY part of the English-speaking world to move in the current direction?

          I think that when one realizes the utter sloth of the English-speaking world in decriminalizing homosexuality (sodomy, buggery, etc.), one will also realize the extent of the deplorable damage done to gays and lesbians in these territories by governments and churches, whether or not Catholics are predominant. It’s just like how the United States was unique in comparison to Latin America, even to Canada and the British Caribbean, for the emphasis upon the “one-drop rule” to determine racial status.

          1. It’s an interesting point: the French colonies were more advanced simply because of the Code Napoleon, brought in by a regime that was markedly anti-clerical. Former Spanish colonies were by no means all as advanced (Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, for example), not surprising given that Spain and Portugal themselves didn’t decriminalise homosexuality until after the UK. The English-speaking world has been slow to improve by comparison with some other cultures, but let’s hope it’ll soon be making up for lost time.

        2. Robert in S. Kensington 26 Mar 2012, 1:22pm

          Plus, the major religious cults had a hand in it. The roman cult to this day can take some or a major part of the responsiblity for upholding it’s long tradition of homophobia around the world, followed closely by Anglicanism and Islam.

    2. What happened in Mauritania (former French West Africa), then? Not British intervention, I think.

    3. Jock S. Trap 25 Mar 2012, 3:23pm

      1796? 1805? Hello this is 2012 right?

      1. Are you sure this is 2012 Jock? Have you checked your colonial diary?

        1. Jock S. Trap 26 Mar 2012, 1:47pm

          But I live in the present day Beberts unlike you.

      2. And when exactly did UK decriminalize homosexuality? 1796? 1805?

        1. When did Spain decriminalise homosexuality? 1979. And they already have gay marriage and anti-discrimation legislation. Past laws are not always a reliable barometer of attitudes, so let’s look to the future shall we?

          1. Spain decriminalised consenting gaysex in 1835 ! The vast majority of their new world colonies decriminalised gay sex about the same time ! A few like Honduras had to wait until 1899 . The English speaking nations are basically very homophobic and not a little criminal in other matters as well ! That’s life ! Personally I wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole . . . unless that is they are “Asian” or “Black” !

  8. jamestoronto 25 Mar 2012, 3:36am

    This “Blame British Imperialism” band-wagon that so many jump on is just too convenient of an excuse. I am sorry but many of the Commonwealth countries have had decades to repeal or amend these antiquated laws and have not done so. Some have managed to have complete constitutions rewritten more than once. Many rapidly passed laws abolishing the monarch as the head of state. In all this time they haven’t managed to find one free day or two in their legislative agenda to address this issue. Canada, Australia, New Zealand all inherited similar “British colonial” laws but we all managed to do away with them. Modern South Africa had a double inheritance issue to deal with – British colonialism and Afrikaans severe morality code but they managed to write equality into their constitution and implement equal marriage. This “Blame Britain” is just getting a bit too worn to hold any credulity.

    The real question that should be asked is why do these independent states retain these laws?

    1. Craig Nelson 25 Mar 2012, 4:44am

      In the case of India they’re not retaining it, they’re getting rid of it – a court has already ruled against this law in 2009 and there was an appeal to the Supreme Court where the government (after some confusion) is agreeing with the original ruling.The key to the legal debate is whether homosexuality was accepted prior to British rule and it is a simple fact though that the majority of countries in the world that retain the criminalisation of homosexuality inherited it from British rule.

      It is just simply the case that these countries did inherit them from Britain.

      Progress is still fairly recent though – whilst decriminalisation started in the UK with England and Wales it was only completed in 1982 and for other countries (whole country) – Ireland in 1993, New Zealand 1986, Australia 1997, South Africa 1998 [I gather South Africa inherited its laws from the Netherlands, not the UK] and the US in 2003.

      1. And yet, according to the IGLA there are 5 countries that retain the death penalty for homosexuality: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen: it’s rather interesting to note that, though there might have been some British influence over the latter two, none of them have ever been British colonies.

      2. Jock S. Trap 25 Mar 2012, 3:26pm

        The argument is flawed since here in the UK decriminalization was over 40 years ago. Nothing has stopped those other countries following suit but instead they Chose to continue. Then wish to blame. It’s very flawed and very pointless.

        1. Jock S. Trap 25 Mar 2012, 3:32pm

          In Africa large amounts of people life and died from HIV. Most are heterosexual because they think they should breed and multiply as a duty, their definition of the bible yet it is supposed to be one marriage two people. I don’t see anyone ‘blaming’ the Empire, the British, the Victorians for the fact that a lot of people want to shag one another. Just when it comes to the LGBT community.

          This is why the argument really doesn’t work.

          Stop blaming other when it is themselves at the fault of blame.

      3. Robert in S. Kensington 26 Mar 2012, 1:26pm

        Homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967 under the Labour government of Harold Wilson, Scotland in 1980 and Northern Ireland in 1982.

    2. Jock S. Trap 25 Mar 2012, 3:24pm

      Here! Here! jamestoronto. Very well said.

    3. I dont know which part of the world you are from but just to let you know Im from India and yes we inherited these laws from the then British colonist Regime and we are not blaming them. India is a country where there is not one religion but 6 religions Hinduism, Islam, Christianity. you must be aware how difficult it is to change the views of the hard core Christians And Muslims as both the groups hold their religious books and say it is an abomination. before the arrival of british in india the culture of India was influenced by the turks and persians who did not try to change the social order of the society the did not say Kamamsutra or what it preaches is bad even if they think about it they did not force it on us but the british changed the law so now im sure you should be able to understand why it is important to highlight that this law is not a law that our culture upholds but instead it is the other way round.

  9. It is true. Victorian Britain laid down it’s laws on all the commonwealth countries and we are all still paying the price for it.

    Some of us have made great leaps forward, but I think some countries use this an excuse not to change. As there is nothing stopping any country from progressing, if they want to.

    India, stop passing on the blame game.

    1. Not sure it is a blame game. It could be a way to have the change of mind accepted by the public. It’s only the laws that matter, but also the mentality of the public. I find it a typical ‘astute’ political way to justify such a change.

      1. Sorry, I meant: it is not ONLY the laws ….

    2. Jock S. Trap 25 Mar 2012, 3:34pm

      Well said radical!!

    3. But as you will see above, it’s thought what you call the ‘blame game’ is a way of asserting that pre-British India had more accepting attitudes towards homosexuality. If that is indeed the strategy, it might be very useful in convincing those who think homosexuality itself was a British or otherwise foreign import.

  10. It’s a good point. A lot of the anti-homosexual feelings in both India and Africa go against centuries of tolerance before the European imperialism and the later American imperialism brought Christian intolerance to those countries. Just look at the indigenous religious art of a lot of those countries: Homosexual acts are often seen even between the gods.

    Britain’s past views on homosexuality certainly have a lot to do with the intolerance we see in India and the influence of European and American churches have driven intolerance in a lot of African and Asian countries, right to the current day.

    I’m glad to see India joining Britain in throwing off those archaic views. I hope the same happens in more Asian and African countries soon.

    1. Jock S. Trap 25 Mar 2012, 3:37pm

      Sorry but I thought these countries governed themselves, making their own laws etc.They chose to remain discriminating and would happily remind anyone of us they govern themselves not by ‘outsider.

      Fail to see how the argument can keep coming back just to suit others to blame but themselves.

  11. DJ Sheepiesheep 25 Mar 2012, 12:30pm

    India got it’s independence in 1949. How long do you feckin need? Unless of course you don’t really want to, which I suspect is the case.

    1. Wub Folfsky 25 Mar 2012, 1:24pm

      Indeed. The picture seems unclear though.

    2. Jock S. Trap 25 Mar 2012, 3:38pm


  12. Those living in Britain in colonial times were also subjected to Victorian morality, i.e. Oscar Wilde.

    The roots of homophobia in all of Europe can be traced to 4th century Christianity and beyond to Philo of Alexandria, Paul of Tarsus, etc.

    True, there was a permissive christianity that allowed same-sex marriage (Boswell), but there was the parallel christianity responsible for outrageous persecutions and executions of ‘heretics’ (Crompton).

    Didn’t this so-called orthodox christianity forge the Victorian mentality?

  13. Jock S. Trap 25 Mar 2012, 3:18pm

    Sorry this this argument is pathetic and rather running out of steam. They may indeed seem like Victorian but since it’s 111 years since the death of Queen Victoria I kind it strange that they had chosen not to act to change said laws.

    It’s ridiculous and an pointless argument which only focuses on others to blame but themselves. What exactly has stop them? They govern themselves and have done for many years.

    This has nothing to do with Britain but everything to do with India and Their chosen laws.

    1. You import discriminatory values to a poor, developing largely uneducated country they’re going to stick. Simple as.

      1. Jock S. Trap 26 Mar 2012, 1:52pm

        And how many years have these countries had to change policy, change minds. You can’t change the fact that these countries have governed themselves and are capable of changing their own laws.

        The blame stops with these countries Not Britain.

    2. Craig Nelson 25 Mar 2012, 5:08pm

      Context is all folks! The statement made was in the case before India’s Supreme Court, where the opponents of the Delhi High Court ruling from 2009 effectively legalising homosexuality are arguing that homosexuality is unIndian or against Indian values. The Justices of the Court therefore enquired as to the origin of code 377 prohibiting homosexuality (i.e. it was imposed as part of British colonial rule in 1860) and as to what Indian culture was like before that point – if homosexuality was easily accepted and portrayed without anxiety then the opponents’ arguments fall by the wayside – it’s not so much about blaming Britain which of course has thoroughly junked these laws (though fairly recently in fact) as of actually addressing the arguments before the Court in dealing with the objections of those who want to reintroduce the prohibition of homosexuality which was overruled in 2009 by the Delhi High Court. The Justices themselves are the ones asking how 377 got introduced in India.

    3. Where did you get the impression that the argument is only focusing on “others”? The path to enlightenment necessarily needs to recognise, understand and dissect the awful consequences of an imperial and colonial past. What does “running out of steam” mean to you? Does that mean you can detach the responsibility of past attrocities from their consequences? You conveniently support the blame game, such as in the case of the Tories vs. Labour, but can’t apply the same rules to other cases… Blinkered or just willful ignorance?

      1. Jock S. Trap 26 Mar 2012, 1:55pm

        We haven’t governed these countries for decades so what exactly stopped them changing Their own laws?

        The only blinkered or just willful ignorance is yours and people like you to fail to think these people can think for themselves and make there own rule… and have done so for Many years now.

        1. Britain hasn’t been governed by Romans for quite some time now. Does that mean we should go back to the way we used to live before Romans arrived to rule? Britain introduced homophobia to India, and clearly some people in India liked it so much they decided to keep it. This is one of the British legacies not only in India, but all around the colonial empire. India didn’t have a culture of homophobia before the British decided Indians couldn’t “think for themselves”. You need to recognise your beloved empire’s bad legacies as well.

          1. Jock S. Trap 27 Mar 2012, 11:11am

            “Britain hasn’t been governed by Romans for quite some time now. Does that mean we should go back to the way we used to live before Romans arrived to rule?”

            Your argument is openly flawed as you kinda answer in contradiction. We don’t live the life as we did when the romans were here because we changed. Yet you then say others can’t. Well thats not the fault of the British but of those countries not willing to change. Blame all you like but these countries make up their own laws and have had ample time to change, yet did not do so.

    4. Robert in S. Kensington 26 Mar 2012, 1:36pm

      I agree and even if it weren’t for past British colonial rule, some of them would still find a way to blame Britain. Nobody want’s to take ownership. Just because some Indians say that homosexuality wasn’t illegal prior to British rule doesn’t mean they weren’t homophobic to begin with? If they were so enlightened before the British arrived, why didn’t they get rid of it after the Raj ended? If I were oppressed for many years by a foreign system, I’d want to get rid of all remnants of it.

      Homosexuality was NEVER criminalised in Italy but it’s one of the most homophobic countries in the EU and who institutionalised it I wonder? I’ll give you one guess, ditto for all homophobia around the world.THAT is the root of homophobia in every society many of whom weren’t colonised by the British. Remember, we only colonised one fifth of the world, who was responsible for the remaining four fifths of homophobia?

      1. Jock S. Trap 26 Mar 2012, 1:58pm

        Exactly and this is what it is really all about taking responsibilty for their Own actions. These laws are theirs and theirs alone. They decided to do nothing until recently, even though the choice was entirely theirs they chose to discriminate until now. Not Britain, India.

    5. if you will look close enough you will get to know WE ARE NOT BLAMING ANYONE it is important to prove that this law is alien to the Indian cultural point of view as homosexuality was accepted and not condemned in the pre colonial society of India. we are not blaming !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. We did this all over Africa too. We were just as good at spreading our puritanical values as we were at empire building. Unfortunately while we became more educated and tolerant most of our colonies remained poor and backward and were happy to continue with our imported discriminatory policies.

    1. Jock S. Trap 26 Mar 2012, 2:02pm

      Rubbish. How come this argument only ever comes out over homosexuality and not the fact that many believe it is their right to breed more children into the world even though many Christian believe in children can only be within marriage? Nobody uses blame then just when it suit and usually in a homophobia agenda way.

      These countries are very happy to tell you who govern them, who makes their rules and it certainly ain’t the British.

      They make their rules therefore they must pay and accept the consequences, nobody else””

  15. Very true …. Britain does not have a very glorious record in its homophobic legacy to former colonies – just look at Africa and where the most vicious homophobic rhetoric and action occurs is invariably a former British colony.
    As for India … they’ve had since 1949 to dump Imperial legislation, so what took them so long??

  16. Society like laws and attitudes can change. When they don’t it is either because of a dictatorship, religion, cultural denial we have evolved… or general appeasement of the majority.

  17. Society like laws and attitudes can change. When they don’t it is either because of a dictatorship, religion, cultural denial we have evolved… or general appeasement of the majority.

    History is the past… whether to blame or shame, the present governments are not Victorian and need to stop clinging to that defense! The future has opportunities and positive constructive choices made with foresight and wisdom gained from hindsight!

  18. Lot of people here are ready to jump on to conclusions and judge India and the people of India but ask your self a question how many of you do really know India or the ways of this country do you? No you don’t. and never will because it takes a lot more then just commenting here, to understand it. But never mind that’s not what I’m hoping to come from any of you as for ages the people from the west have judged us and will continue to do so with ignorance and little knowledge and never getting to the bottom of it.

    well just to clear here in this article we are not blaming the british for this law what is being done in the court room is basically quoting that this law is not the law of the land neither it was accepted by the people but was the direct result of the colonialism and hence this cannot be considered as the law based on our culture as the culture of India has always acknowledged the homosexual relations even among the gods or in the society it was never a offence.

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