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Why in India men hold hands?

Foreigners are always shocked to see Indian men strolling two by two, hand in hand... And even if I am used to it, seeing my new hired casually leave his hand on the thigh of a colleague he met the same morning, then lie back comfortably and pass his arm over the shoulders of the other guy, it still felt weird.  

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It is all the more surprising that men don’t behave like this with women at all… 


So the first thing that comes to mind is that India explodes the ratios of homosexuality... But actually no, they are in the norm (1) (with admittedly a little more guys having ‘circumstantial’ homosexual sex since premarital sex is still a taboo – they do with whatever hole they get before they get married!). It was even considered an offence until 2010, when the Supreme Court observed that live-in relationships and premarital sex was nothing illegal (2). Until then, I remember that some hotels did not let us sleep together, my ex-favorite Indian and I, because we were not married and that the police could come down and arrest us for prostitution... 


Similarly, the law does not specifically prohibit public displays of affection: the Penal Code of 1860 stipulates that “whoever, to the annoyance of others, does any obscene act in any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both” (3). But there is nowhere a definition of obscenity... (4) 


The fact that it is legal doesn’t mean that it is morally well-accepted (5). It is even quite condemned... And the mentalities are changing, but not very fast... For example, more and more young people lose their virginity before marriage but they are forced to have sex in parks or on building roofs since it is out of question to bring someone of the opposite gender to your room...  


Indians have a particular concept of ‘vital space’: it simply doesn’t mean anything. How many have I had a neighbour on a plane invading my space by overflowing the armrest? How many Indians sit on the lap of strangers in overcrowded buses or trains and it doesn’t bother anyone? How many families sleep six or more in a single room? Go try explaining the concept of ‘vital space’ in overpopulated cities... And what good would it do to them anyway? 

And to make it simple, they like human contact. Period.  


And if you look well, it’s been only a few decades than Western males no longer have much physical contact. This phenomenon would be linked to the rise of homophobia. 

At the end of the nineteenth century, homosexuality began to emerge as an identity rather than just a practice: it evolved from something you would do (through the sexual act) to something you would be (a homosexual). Gradually homosexuals attracted more and more suspicion which culminated in a witch-hunt in the 1950s. And the more threatening homosexuals appeared the more that male bodies drifted apart: straight guys wanted to make sure that no one would believe they were gay. “The paranoia had replaced public affection.” (6) 


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(3) Section 294 (a) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 

(4) The word 'obscene' has not been defined in the code. The laws are vague in that no. specific definition is laid down which could lead to arbitrary interpretation and in gross violation of freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution of India 



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