One argument that you often get to hear from opponents of gay rights and homosexuality is, that gay sex can’t lead to progeny, or rather, that reproduction is the ultimate aim of any species, and hence, heterosexuality is the only “natural way”. Without reproducing, they say, humans will go extinct and hence homosexuality will doom the human species.
But what if men could also conceive? Would that make homosexuality “natural”? Can that be a reality or will it always be science fiction? Hindu mythology is full of stories where men gave birth, but under special circumstances. Yet, that possibility wasn’t discarded.
Exploring such a possibility is the movie Paternity Leave, where one of the men in a gay relationship becomes pregnant. The movie explores the changes that a person undergoes during pregnancy – both hormonal, emotional and physical, and presents before the viewer a possibility that many still dream of.
But these dreams may come true sometime in the future, with advancements of science. A man giving birth is not just anymore restricted to mythology or movies. Thomas Beatie, a trans man who underwent surgery in 2002, became the first man to give birth to a baby in 2007. He has been impregnated thrice. This was made possible because Beatie had retained his womb while undergoing sex reassignment surgery.
If pregnancy in Thomas Beatie was made possible because he had the womb, it might not be necessary in the future. Recent research has shown the possibility that same-sex couples could become parents, without the need of a donor egg. Researchers have been able to make sperm cells and egg cells from stem cells.
Science has come a long way. What was a miracle yesterday, is a reality today. While gay men becoming pregnant might not happen so soon, the possibility of it in near future can not be ruled out either. The question is, if you have the chance, would you become pregnant?
Not very long ago, Hollywood was shy to touch upon LGBT themed movies. They were considered too risky, something that might not get a mass market. And so, you would have movies on LGBT theme come out once a year, or sometime not even that. You could count them on your fingers. But as LGBT rights are progressing, so is Hollywood, and the count of LGBT themed movies coming out each year is steadily increasing.
This year has already seen the release of The Intimation Game, that was based on Alan Turing, the gay hero of World War 2 who saved the world by cracking Nazi codes. But there are many more coming up.
Stonewall (as the name suggests) is a movie based upon the Stonewall Riots that happened in 1969. The description on Youtube reads: “STONEWALL is a drama about a fictional young man caught up during the 1969 Stonewall Riots.” However, the movie already finds itself mired in controversy for eliminating the role of trans-individuals who played an important role in the riots and also for the “white-washing” of the gay rights movement. Many people have since given out a call to boycott the movie completely. The movie releases this Septemeber.
Freeheld stars Ellen Page and Julianne More, and releases in October. The movie is based on the real life story of Laurel Hester, a police officer in Ocean County, New Jersey, who was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. The story revolves around the fight of Laurel Hester to have her partner receive the pension benefits after her death.
The Danish Girl
The Danish Girl too is inspired by a real life story and is in fact based upon a book by the same name by David Ebershoff. The movie tells the story of Lili Elbe, the first person to undergo sex change operation and stars Oscar winning actor Eddie Redmayne. Directed by Tom Hooper, it is being seen as a strong Oscar contender already. What’s more, it even received a 10-minute standing ovation at Venice Film Festival. The movie is expected to release on Nov 27th this year.
This one in the list is from India. It is not often that Bollywood makes a movie on a gay person’s life. But award winning director Hansal Mehta has done just that, and the movie is already traveling the Film Festival circuit and has been selected for the BFI London Film Festival as well as the Busan Film Festival. Like the previous three, this one too is based on the real life (tragic) story of an Indian professor of Aligarh Muslim University -Dr. Siras. In the year 2010, he was suspended from the University after being filmed through spy cameras having sex with another man inside his room. Two months later, he was found dead in his room.
The world is going through an interesting phase when it comes to gay rights. While there are advancements happening on LGBT rights at all fronts, the pace is certainly vastly different at different parts of the world. In fact, in some places, the situation of LGBT people is in fact worsening. But before going any further, it would be prudent to have a look at some of the major developments in the last few months.
The biggest news that dominated the world was of course the US Supreme Court’s judgement that made same-sex marriages legal across the country. It was a huge win for the proponents of marriage equality, whose effects were sure to reverberate across the world. Despite being a world leader, LGBT rights have somewhat lagged in USA when compared to a few other nations of the world. Though same-sex marriages were legal in a few states within USA, others had brought in laws to specifically ban such marriages. The fight over the right to marry reached the courts, and finally on 26th of June the US Supreme court settled the matter once and for all. It is interesting how history tends to repeat itself. On the same day (26th June), had occurred what is now known as Stonewall Riots, which signifies the spirit to fight back for justice and rights.
But just days after such a big win, gay rights rally in Istanbul, Turkey was attacked by police. It may be noted that Turkey is the only muslim country to have a LGBT pride march, and the march has seen participation in thousands over the years. However, things haven’t been going smoothly for LGBT people in the country since the new conservative President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has taken over. It was shocking for participants to find themselves attacked with water canons by the police. On the otherhand, ISIS continues to horrify the world with its abuse and violence, and there have been shocking images of people the group suspected of being homosexual, being thrown off the buildings.
The US Supreme Court judgement was bound to have repercussions across the world, and in India, newspapers quoted the Law Minister as saying that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises “sex against the order of nature” and is used as a tool of violence against LGBTs in India, could soon be gone. However, the minister issued a statement within hours of the report being published, claiming that he had been misquoted and there was no such intention of the government. A member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party went on to claim that the party considers homosexuality a mental disorder. On the other hand, transgender rights are progressing in India with the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Parliament, unanimously passing an important bill for transgender rights. It now needs to be passed in the Lower House to become a law. More disturbingly, the Government of India also decided to block over 850 porn sites, but had to roll back the ban after backlash from all quarters. The porn ban is only the latest in the series of things the conservative BJP government is banning.
Another European country Ireland, passed an important legislation that ‘allows transgender people to gain legal recognition without seeing a doctor or needing medical treatment’. In another historic ruling, the European Court ruled ‘that not recognising same-sex couples is a breach of their human rights’. On his recent visit to African continent, US President Barack Obama raised the issue of LGBT rights. African countries remain deeply homophobic, and the voicing of concern by President Obama shows the growing importance of LGBT rights in the global discourse.
From a cursory look at these major developments, it is evident that if there are happy advancements, there is a rise in conservative forces in parts of the world too which seek to undo the progress done. In such a scenario it becomes imperative for world leaders and progressive countries maintain diplomatic pressure on other countries and state unambiguously that LGBT rights form a key part of human rights discourse.