A Verdict and an Appeal
|Hijira Starting Their Rally|
The general term for the gay community in India would be Eunuch's. But has been evolving over time with most of them calling themselves Hijira which would be the Hindu name for it. Many of the universal terms are being applied here as well -- the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) categories. However, in the Hindu context, there is an additional category for the religious eunuch, Jogappas. This particular Eunuch would be attached to a certain Hindu Deity.
Yesterday, it was the day after the Indian Supreme Court reversed a decision from a lower court to take a standing law of 150 + years on the books #377 which had been modified a few years back to allow gay sex between consenting adults. This was seen as a huge set back for this Hijira community. When you are dealing with homosexuality it is very hard to separate who you are from your behavior -- so they don't see the ruling as what they are doing is bad but who they are is bad. This is not truth and certainly not how God sees them. If they don't have a relationship with Jesus -- they won't be able to perceive an identity beyond what they are feeling.
There is a vast difference between those that are homosexual in this country and the challenges they face - especially those with the challenges of extreme poverty and a caste system which would marginalize them even more.
Brother Sura from Love and Serve India, has been reaching out to this group for a few years. He has earned a place of love and respect with them. They know he is a man of God and they call on him for prayer when they have problems and also for help in other ways. He has shared God's word and truth with them -- some have received Christ. Discipling them is a challenge as they are so isolated - so many are still just enmeshed in their cultural wars.
We had plans earlier in the week to get with them on a few occasions and I was going to share my testimony with them and just pour into what Bro. Sura has been doing with them. I wanted to know more about their plight and to minister to them. All these plans were cancelled when the verdict came out. They decided they were going to rally and Mirah -- one of the leaders who Bro. Sura has been working with said we could come down there to seem them. I was hesitant because I did not want to get caught up in the Media surrounding this issue -- I wanted to meet with them personally. We drove down and saw them gather and followed for a bit and then went to where they were settled. I had a chance to say hello to Mirah and a couple others but the police started to move the crowd around -- so I thought it is time to go.
|Rally (Bro. Sura in pink shirt and brown pants in front of man in foreground w/helmut)|
|Gathering in front of Train Station|
They had put black bands around some of their mouths as to say they have been silenced.
After we drove away -- we got a call from Mirah who had asked Sura to have me come and meet with them either later that night or tomorrow. This was a great sign for me that God was still at work and an answer to so much prayer -- our showing up made that difference.
The other side to this story is that I found out that the Lawyer that filed the petition before the Supreme Court was a Christian and that he lived in Bhubenaswar! When Sura told me this I said, "Do you have his e-mail or phone number?" Sura replied he did and I said, "May I have it?" His answer was yes!
I felt so strongly that I wanted to speak to this man to find out exactly how he thought focusing on the gay community and this law was being the most effective way to share the gospel with this community. Because of the nature of the ministry that I have been doing in bringing education and awareness to the Church regarding Homosexuality and their response -- I thought this would be amazing to meet with him. I sent the e-mail and asked if he would see me -- I had a response in four hours with a yes -- and it would be either Friday or Saturday. I worked out the schedule and would meet him from 5:00 - 6:00pm in a place that was supposed to be about 30 minutes from where I was. A day after this national verdict - - I was going to meet with the man behind the case.
After a frustrating drive of one and a half hours with a taxi driver that spoke no English and did not know where he was going -- even after 7 calls to the Lawyer who would explain things to him -- then he would hang up the phone and immediately go and ask someone on the street if they knew where the place was -I thought you just talked to the guy whose house we are going to -- if you can't understand him -- why would the person on the street know? (Patience . . . . Patience John . . .Thank you Jesus!)
(some of this is graphic but I don't know how else to explain what is going on)
I finally was able to meet with the Mr. B.D. Daas and was offered tea and some cakes and we began our discussion that lasted about an hour and a half. I wanted to know first what was the law on the books -- what was the amendment and why he reversed it. I then wanted to know how he thought this was helpful in furthering the gospel. He explained to the complexity of the law and this particular issue stems from The Christian Definition of Marriage on the books defines it as a commitment between two (2) Persons -- not male and female but two Persons. This is a major loophole that he feels is a vulnerability for the church -- There is also a section of the law that would hinder a woman to have a legal divorce becuase of a correlation between 377and an existing law. Now I understand fully what God's word teaches about the practice of homosexuality and I believe it is clear that it is sin. But seeing this work itself out culturally, knowing the mistakes that have been made in the west -- made me want to talk to this guy to see where his heart was at.
He said, he did not have a problem with Civil Unions for gays but then said because typical unions would include one person -- because he understood some people have multiple partners -- the part of the law that talks about dissolution of assets would be very complicated because if you are considered that a partnership was as a result of having multiple partners in some cases -- it would be absolutely impossible to dissolve assets. Now I think this was making some wrong assumptions but I got his basic point.
I still felt there was a bit of a misunderstanding about the wording of the old testament and message of the gospel that Jesus brings and how that is presented. I shared my heart with him and the word as God has reveled to me. I told him that it was hard to the hijira to not see this as personal rejection -- and that although the bible speaks against the behavior -- there are many sins that are not illegal -- Like you don't get arrested for overeating and put in prison for life because of gluttony. We had very healthy debate -- Those of you who know me know I was in my element with this man because i am a closeted lawyer in many ways!
He understands the way the world is moving and what will probably happen in his country - he told me he was going to forward me a copy of the full petition so I could understand the language. I told him I wanted to stay in touch with him and would be praying for him. I found him to have a very loving heart and definately loves God - -but sees things through a lawyers eyes.
He is also advocating on behalf of the Dalits and their plight. Additionally, he was telling me about how he was part of a petition as well for a reversal of the Anti-Conversion law which is currently in place in the state of Orissa-- stating that it is unconstitutional. You can have the freedom to practice, the freedom to propagate but you cannot convert. People can also make the choice to change religions -- but the arguable point is when is conversion influenced or chosen. There are so many amazing things to be fighting for as this amazing country moves ahead.
The main amazing thing for me was God is the one that gave me a place across the table from the man that is petitioning things in the court that is affecting the entire nation and the marginalized communities. I prayerfully and humbly approached this meeting (well maybe not so humbly as I was frustrated with the driver) -- but even though he feels he is defending righteousness, I feel so am I and the Lord brought us together -- amazing.
So -- I will let you know how my time with the Eunuchs go tomorrow . . . .
I feel like I am white-water rafting . . . .