Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Sunday, October 01, 2023 — Houston, TX

Rainer Ebert

NEWS 2/10/11 6:00pm

Homophobic tendencies still abound in South Asia

Great empires may come and go, but like the tides, they leave behind a tangled assortment of flotsam and jetsam. In the case of the British Empire, that included much that one might admire, but also a British Protestant morality that was codified in laws that persist to this day. Section 377 of the colonial Penal Code is a striking example. It classed consensual oral and anal sex as "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" and made it a crime punishable with imprisonment for life. When the British administrators withdrew, they took their soldiers, but left their law books behind. Section 377 was recently repealed in India, but it is still very much on the books in neighboring Bangladesh. Prosecutions under Section 377, which effectively makes homosexual sex illegal, are extremely rare. Section 377, hence, does not impair Bangladesh's moderate image in the world and questions about the country's human rights record on the issue of homosexuality are avoided in the international arena. Nonetheless, Section 337 forces the local LGBT community into a shadow existence. Their official illegality silences their voices in the public sphere.