SC has at least ensured queer couples will no longer be harassed: Activist
Kolkata: Her journey of transformation from Deb Barua to Debika Barua was not easy. In her own words, the path was tough because it was riddled by the thorns of discrimination. After a long and painful voyage, Debika Barua has finally established herself as a popular face of queer rights in Kolkata, a blogger and an elocutionist, besides handling her schedule as an employee of a leading ITeS firm in Kolkata.
Speaking to IANS, Debika talks at length about her thoughts on the recent verdict of the five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage in India.
IANS: What was your immediate feeling when you heard that the apex court had refused to legalise same-sex marriages in India and instead left the matter to Parliament to form legislation on this count?
Debika: There was a feeling of sadness since it shattered dreams of many like me, to legalise their existing relationship. But after getting over the initial sadness, I thought that merely giving a legal or social label to a relationship does not matter if the emotional and psychological bond is genuine.
Many heterosexual couples are also leading a happy life together without entering into any legal contract or social commitment. Instead, I concentrated on the positive sides of the apex court’s verdict. And once I did that, my initial sadness was over.
IANS: Don’t you think that the denial of the right to adopt a child in the verdict is a major setback for the community’s movement?
Debika: It is surely for those couples who want to see their son or daughter growing up in front of their eyes. But I look at this matter in a different perspective. Adoption to me is a symbol of showering affection. If that is so, then one can get that satisfaction by showering that affection on an orphan or a street child in his or her locality.
You can take the responsibility of educating at least one child and help him/her in life. And why should it only be restricted to human beings? Caring for an ailing street dog in your locality also gives you the same emotional satisfaction.
IANS: What, according to you, is the most positive part of the apex court’s verdict?
Debika: It is in the positive observations by the Bench, especially those of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, regarding putting an end to the harassment of queer couples by law enforcement agencies. Often, same-sex couples are forcefully separated by police and each partner is forced to go back to their parents, even though they are consenting adults.
The apex court’s order has clearly said that such things have to stop. This, to my opinion is extremely important for the freedom of choice of individuals to select his/her life partner.
IANS: So, when you speak of ending the journey of discrimination, do you think that without bigger social awareness it is really achievable?
Debika: Of course not. Our generation of queer people grew up facing discrimination from the straight generation since the latter got the lesson of discriminating against us from the previous generation. So I wish that the next straight generation does not grow up getting the same lesson of discriminating against the next queer generation.
For that to happen there is a need to create awareness at the school-level, via education and campaigns. There is also a necessity to identify the existence of non-binary third gender besides the traditional and binary male and female genders in the chapter on sex-education. Let this be the beginning.
IANS: My final question. Whom do you thank the most in your long journey of establishing yourself as Debika Barua?
Debika: Of course my parents without whose support I would not have been able to progress even an inch in my struggle of transformation. So, as I always say, the first line of support for my queer friends should come from the home front without which they will not get the courage to face society.
The second line of support should be from the immediate friend circle — queer or straight, binary or non-binary. This will automatically open up the doors for wider social awareness. Do not identify us as an “effeminate male’ or a “Tomboy female”. Identify us as human beings like you.