- "Times are changing, society has to take a call": Mohan Bhagwat
- The RSS chief said there are other important issues
- Supreme Court ruled Section 377 was irrational and indefensible
When the Supreme Court scrapped a part of the 157-year-old Section 377 allowing consensual gay sex between adults, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) agreed with the judgment that homosexuality was not a crime. However, it stressed its opposition towards "this kind of relationship" and maintained its stance that gay relationships aren't "compatible with nature".
So when the chief of the RSS, the ideological mentor of the ruling BJP, Mohan Bhagwat said that the LGBTQ community is very much part of the society and they should not be isolated, his statement got thumbs up from many.
"Times are changing and the society has to take a call on such issues," Mr Bhagwat said at the Bhavishya ka Bharat - an RSS perspective, which concluded on Wednesday. But he quickly switched topics saying that gay rights weren't the only pressing issue which needed to be debated.
During the conclave, Mr Bhagwat promoted the RSS's new liberal and progressive approach towards the different constituents of the society. The RSS chief had on the first day of the event said that the aim of the Sangh was to bring together the entire society.
"Hindutva means inclusivity and accepting Muslims is a part of it. Hindu Rashtra doesn't mean there's no place for Muslims. If we don't accept Muslims, it's not Hindutva," he said.
The RSS chief also spoke against religious conversions and said there should be no "double standards" over violence in the name of cow.
The RSS, he said, does not approve the word "minorities" as it considers all to be equal citizens. This description was not in use before independence, he added.
The conclave was seen as the Hindu organisation's attempt at an image makeover. A Twitter user appreciated what appeared like a slight shift in the RSS's stance and said, "Glad he's stated it very clearly, accepting the changing social realities and respecting the Supreme Court judgement."
Everyone is a part of society. How they are - they are, accept people for what they are. Society has changed. It is important that society prepares itself so people do not feel isolated. Dr Bhagwat on LGBTQ #RSS4Bharat (translated)- Advaita Kala (@AdvaitaKala) September 19, 2018
Things Mohan Bhagwat ji said in last two days:- Nisha (@niissh) September 19, 2018
"If we don't accept Muslims,it's not Hindutva"
"LGBTQ ppl r an integral part of society"
"RSS has nothing against English"
"All Indian languages are ours n all are great"
Agar ye Sanghi hona hai then I'm a proud sanghi!#RSS4Bharat
Ealier this month, the Supreme Court had overruled its own 2013 decision and said Section 377, a controversial British-era ban on consensual gay sex, was irrational, indefensible and arbitrary.
"No one can escape from their individuality...Look for the rainbow in every cloud. Section 377 is arbitrary"," said Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
The RSS has traditionally frowned upon homosexuality, but its agreement with the Supreme Court ruling was seen by some as a significant shift.
In 2016, senior RSS leader Dattatreya Hosabale had raised eyebrows when he said that one's sexual preference cannot be a crime.
"I don't think homosexuality should be considered a criminal offence as long as it does not affect the lives of others in society. Sexual preferences are private and personal," Mr Hosabale said.
The next day, he posted this tweet: "Homosexuality is not a crime, but socially immoral act in our society. No need to punish, but to be treated as a psychological case."