Module on Sexual Citizenship (Part of Course on The Illegal Citizen)

This module is part of the course on The Illegal Citizen.

This module of the course will seek to understand if there is a sexuality underlying the idea of citizenship. Citizenship is normally framed in abstract terms with seemingly little or no relevance to the sexuality of the citizen. However when it comes to the matter of exercising citizenship rights sexuality becomes of key relevance.

This module will seek to understand what the sexuality of the citizen should be so that she can access the existing rights framework. Thus this module will examine the nature of normative sexuality as a social system and the rights which flow to the ‘ideal’ citizen , ie the one whose sexuality conforms to the normative ideal of sexuality as coded in Indian law, social mores , media and the practices of the medical establishment . It then moves on to look at the problem that non conforming sexualities pose for those who want to assert their citizenship rights under the Indian Constitution. It will then look at those who are outsiders to the very idea of citizenship by reason of their sexuality , particularly the queer person and the sex worker. Finally it will seek to understand how the normative framework of citizenship is being mobilized by the queer and sex worker community in Bangalore to access basic citizenship rights.

This module is envisaged in sessions.


    I. Session 1

This session will look at the notion of normative sexuality and its relations to rights. It will seek to understand how the notions of normative sexuality are constructed and the power of the normative to exclude all those who do not conform. One can understand the power to exclude only if one takes seriously the idea of sexuality as a political and social system.

Compulsory Readings
Gayle Rubin, Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality.

Recommended Readings
i. Michel Foucault , The History of Sexuality Vol 1
ii. Jefferey Weeks , Sexuality
iii. Anna Marie Smith , Sexual Justice, Democratic Citizenship and the Politics of Desire.


    II.Session 2

      This session will look at the problems that non-conforming sexualities pose for those who want to access rights under the legal system. There is great diversity in the nature of demands for rights by the queer community ranging from the issues of lesbian suicide and the demand for same sex marriage to the demand to recognize hijras as women to the decriminalisation of sodomy. This module will focus on the issue of decriminalisation of sodomy. It will raise questions as to how one should understand the impact of criminal law and look at the need for moving beyond the notion of legal enforcement of anti sodomy law and look at the laws role in constituting and creating a cultural worldview with respect to queer people. It will particularly look at the way the queer community has initiated debates around the decriminalization of sodomy globally and its relevance to the Indian context.

      Compulsory Readings
      i. Khanu vs Emperor , AIR 1925 Sind 286
      ii. Macaulay’s reasoning for why have Sec 377, See Vasudha Dagamwar , Law, power and Justice, (pp. 117-118)
      iii. Ryan Goodman, Beyond the Enforcement principle: Sodomy laws, Social norms, and Social Panoptics.
      iv. Govt of India’s response to the Naz Petition.
      v. Cass Sunstein, What did Lawrence hold ? Of autonomy, Desuetude , Sexuality and Marriage , 2003.

      Recommended Readings
      i. Bowers vs Hardwick, 478 US 186 (1986). 478 US 186. www.sodomylaws.org/bowers/bowers_v_hardwick.htm
      ii. Lawrence vs Texas, http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/02pdf/02-102.pdf
      iii. National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality vs South African Human Rights Commission , 1998 (6) BCLR 726 (W)
      iv. Naz Foundation India vs Union of India ( petition in the Delhi High Court )
      v. PUCL Report on ‘Human rights violations against the transgender community’
      vi. PUCL Report on “Human rights violations against sexuality minorities in India.’


        III. Session 3

      This session will examine the debates around the issue of sex workers and citizenship and who has been initiating and participating in these debates. It will seek to understand how the voice of the sex worker in relation to existing feminist legal debates.

      Compulsory Readings
      i. Rajeshwari Sunderajan , The Prostitution question(s), agency and work.
      ii.Andrea Dworkin, Prostitution and male agency.
      iii. Carol Queen, ‘Sex Radical Politics, Sex-Positive Feminist Thought and the Whore Stigma
      iv. Ratna Kapur, The tragedy of victimization rhetoric: resurrecting the “native” subject in international/post-colonial feminist legal politics.
      v. Kamla Kempadoo, Reconceptualizing Prostitution
      vi. Cecelia Hoffman , Sex: From human intimacy to ‘sexual labour’ or is prostitution a human right?



        IV. Session 4


      This session will examine the struggles of the queer as well as the sex worker community in Bangalore and how they have accessed rights. This module will specifically focus on strategies to be employed in ensuring that rights are indeed universalized across sexuality divisions. We hope to brainstorm creatively on how we can move forward given the history of violence and prejudice against sex workers and queer people. Some of the modes which we would like to critically examine are:

      Legal Strategies
      i. Courtroom-based lawyering ( in the context of two judgements)
      ii. Campaigning for progressive law reform
      iii.Interventions at the level of the police
      iv. Building up a human rights history of violations by state and civil society
      v. Linking up to a global discourse on human rights

      Non-legal strategies
      i. Formation of collectives and groups
      ii. Enabling Media visibility of issues
      iii.Public action
      iv. Family
      v. Dealing with the underworld

      Compulsory readings
      PUCL Report on “Human rights violations against the transgender community’ pp. 60-73.