The Times of India reported last week that Dr. S. R. Siras of Aligarh Muslim University has been suspended for having gay sex.
“Siras was captured on camera having sex with a rickshaw-puller. It’s a scandal that no institution of repute can overlook. Therefore, he was placed under suspension on February 9,” said an AMU public relations officer.
Siras—on the verge of retirement—will not contest the charges and will quietly leave his post. “Let them say what they want to. I am not going to offer any clarification. You don’t have to abuse back if someone abuses you,” Siras told the Times of India.
The incident comes at an intriguing time for Indians, as the country explores a possible overturn of its sodomy laws, known as Article 377.
“The Delhi High Court, one of the most influential courts in India, argued back in July that Article 377 was unconstitutional under the equality provisions of the Indian Constitution. It has been overturned in Delhi,” said Mark Bromley of The Council for Global Equality. “In other parts of India, the law is still used to ground all sorts of human rights.”
Like sodomy laws in Uganda, Singapore, and other British colonies, the article easily allows police and other groups to harass, penalize, or lucratively collect bribes from “offenders.” Dr. Siris resides and teaches in Lucknow, Utat Pradesh, where the law is still in place.
The July 2009 decision by the New Delhi High Court was met with opposition from Hindu, Christian, and Muslim religious leaders who feel that homosexuality is a Western issue, not an Indian concern. If it remains decriminalized in Delhi the decision of the High Court there could influence other jurists throughout India.
Britain herself overturned these laws in the late 1960s. It is ironic—and sad for LGBT people—that rules put into place by conquering armies have been absorbed into the cultural identity of now-independent nations.