On Sept 6th, India’s Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality as it struck down Section 377. India’s leading daily newspapers, The Indian Express and The Free Press Journal both listed Dhalla’s novel “The Exiles” (HarperCollins) as part of their list of must-read books reflecting the LGBTQ journey.
In a response to The Telegraph, another leading paper, Dhalla said, “By making this groundbreaking decision, the Supreme Court has taken an important step in dismantling the “closet” which is destructive not only to LGBTQ people, but equally to heterosexuals. When people are not given the dignity and freedom to live authentically, they create a web of deceit that impacts not only their own lives, but also the lives of other people and the society they inhabit. Cases of partners who feel duped and betrayed when they discover their spouses are gay are not unusual, and often, we blame only the so-called deceitful, closeted individual. But, are we also not to blame as a society for refusing to recognize their right to live freely and proudly, and thereby enforcing the closet?
“Let’s be clear on one thing: Hinduism has never seen homosexuality as a religious sin. The normalcy of same-sex desire, which had always been evident — even celebrated — in Hindu scriptures was perverted only recently by the British, who ironically, have long moved on from their own draconian laws. It’s about time that India, too, which is doing such a commendable job of recognizing the destruction that colonialism caused, shake off this legacy of human oppression.”