Trolling Modi For Section 377 Just Because He Condemned Orlando Is Plain Silly

13/06/2016 6:35 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
ED JONES via Getty Images
Members of South Korea's LGBT community hold a candle-light vigil for victims of the Orlando shooting, in Seoul on June 13, 2016. US anti-terror strategy came under fresh scrutiny after a gunman previously cleared of jihadist ties launched a hate-fueled rampage in a Florida gay club that left 50 people dead. / AFP / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

They’re trolling Modi for LGBT rights in India because he condoled the massacre in a gay nightclub in Orlando in the United States. What about Section 377, they ask.

This kind of lazy whataboutry is usually the preserve of Hindutva trolls. Looks like the virus is spreading.

Let’s say Modi doesn’t believe in decriminalisation of gay sex. Does he have to be a champion of gay rights to condole the massacre of 50 people in a gay nightclub?

What we are missing here is that those killed were gay second, human first. It is possible for Modi, or anyone – especially Muslim and Christian groups – to oppose gay rights and still condemn the massacre of gay club-goers.

Nuance is the enemy of polemic. Hyperbole is easy.

“You do that,” someone replies Modi’s tweet, “You don't have a right to show solidarity with the community in Orlando. #scrap377.”

She immediately gets her comeuppance. Someone replies to her, “instd of appreciating solidarity empathy u r full of hate - u donot condemn islamic killer HYPOCRITE.”

Nuance is the enemy of polemic. Hyperbole is easy.

That’s right. If you accuse someone of ignoring that the people massacred in Orlando were massacred because they were gay, be ready to be to shown the mirror. Are you similarly trying to shift attention away from the fact that the shooter was a Muslim who swore allegiance to the Islamic State?

Everybody loves a good massacre. We wait for the slightest of details to fill our outrage with our ideology. For some it’s only about control, for others it is about LGBT rights, for yet others it is about radical Islam, and then there will be those who will say the ‘sin’ of homosexuality deserved it.

What’s similar in all of these debates is that nobody actually cares about the human beings dead. Everyone complains about the politics and everyone indulges in it. Human lives lost are just cannon fodder to promote whatever agenda we are promoting.

Human lives lost are just cannon fodder to promote whatever agenda we are promoting.

That is what gives rise to the bizarre logic that Modi should scrap Section 377 before he condemns Orlando. Look at this allegation for instance:

“Dear PM @narendramodi ji, you think LGBT people are safe in India? That too, in YOUR government?”

LGBT people are getting massacred in nightclubs in Modi’s India? That's news.

This kind of dishonest polemic does great disservice to the LGBT cause in India, is disrespectful to those who have died in Orlando, and generally serves to discredit liberals.

In a few lazy tweets and rants, people are merging contexts faster than you can say rhetoric. We need to be a lot more debate, discussion, activism to get Section 377 scrapped in India. But is that going to come by equating Section 377 with a cold-blooded massacre of gay men in a US nightclub?

India can’t have an Orlando massacre because we don’t have gay nightclubs, and yes, Section 377 has something to do with it. But if LGBT people were to be attacked, there has been plenty of opportunity. There have been dozens of LGBT pride parades in India by now, and not just in big cities. Ever heard of so much as a stone thrown at one of them? Leave alone a mass shooting.

For some, the Orlando massacre is a reminder of Section 377 in India. But it is also a reminder that LGBT people don’t get massacred in India. They may face stigma and discrimination, but not massacre.

Never let facts come in the way of a good round of outrage.

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