27 January, 2021

Beneath The Colony, A Non-Binary Mosaic

Love Tales
The relationship of 14th-century Delhi Sultanate ruler Alauddin Khilji with ‘slave-general’ Malik Kafur is the stuff of legend
Beneath The Colony, A Non-Binary Mosaic

While LGBT people were tortured and killed for centuries in Europe, India’s history is very different (see Same-Sex Love in India, ed. Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai). The Victorian ­administrators who instituted Section 377 in colonised countries also ­introduced the idea of homosexuality as an unspeakable crime to be hidden. Educated Indians internalised shame and guilt about many Indian practices, from polygamy and matriliny to same-sex sexuality. However, earlier traditions did persist, often underground.

ALSO READ: Opinion | Is India Racist? Sexuality Undefined, How Social Oppression Makes A Mockery Of The Law

In some pre-colonial Indian ­communities, same-sex unions were formalised and recognised. For ­example, late 18th century Lakhnavi writer Sa’adat Yar Khan ‘Rangin’ (1755-1835) described how two women would form a couple by eating and...



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