Ann Arbor comes out in support of Global Day of Rage over Indias reinstatement of a code banning homosexuality.

U-M Students Join In Global Day Of Rage

By Crystal A. Proxmire

University of Michigan PhD student Rebecca Grapevine was in India as a Fulbright Scholar in 2009 when the High Court in Delhi struck down Section 377 of India's code barring homosexuality. And in reaction to the recent Indian Supreme Court ruling that reinstated the ban, Grapevine was part of a group of students here who participated in a global Day of Rage protest against the decision.

"Before 2009 I think it was a very systemic form of discrimination," Grapevine said. "One of the major arguments in the 2009 decision was that discrimination has a chilling effect on the people. It has been used to harass people who the state perceives as troublemakers and it cast a shadow over the rights and freedom of people to be themselves."

The protest at U-M law school brought together over 25 people from many backgrounds and walks of life in solidarity for the Indian people. Danish Sheikh, an attorney studying in Michigan for a year from India, organized the protest locally. He sent word out on Facebook about the injustice, calling people to meet and make signs.

"We set up at the law school and we gathered together to make posters. Danish spoke for a short period about how important the 2009 decision had been for him and how difficult it had been to come out before that," said Grapevine.

Section 377 is a 150 year-old provision that punishes "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" with imprisonment up to life. Because India was part of the British Empire, this provision is replicated in over thirty countries, often with the same code number. Among them are countries in Asia and Africa, including Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

"India's really been at the forefront of change. The 2009 decision is a really inspiring document. It set out a really bold agenda in moving away from a colonial area. It drew on evidence and legal developments from around the world, and it set an example for the other nations with similar codes," Grapevine said. "The Supreme Court went backwards."

The decision puts many Indians in a precarious position, as many people came out of the closet after the 2009 ruling.

The Ann Arbor students showed solidarity by chanting and holding signs. "We've entered a period where we can't just define these discussions to nations. Decisions are made on a global level. .. I think people in Michigan should care because it's part of a global struggle. There are no boundaries. This global day of solidarity shows we don't want national boundaries to confine how we think."

The U-M protest joined over 35 others taking place around the world, including several in India.


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