Margaret Eby
November 09, 2014 6:30 am

A kiss seems like a simple thing: A straightforward sign of affection, a symbol of love between two people. But kissing can be an act that’s not just personal — it can be also be political. Take the people of Kerala, India, who organized a “Kiss of Love” event to protest police harassment and the unfair treatment of women in public places. Part of this treatment is a “moral policing” program, in which public kissing is illegal. In Indian authority’s estimation, a kiss is a sign of obscenity and moral corruption, not love. It’s an oppressive thing to be told that human behavior as natural and prevalent as kissing is a criminal act. So what better way to speak out than do some serious smooching?

“We start out to fight against cultural fascism and moral policing,” the description on the groups’ Facebook page read. “[We are] a group of young bloods joining their hands together that the kiss is the symbol of love.”

The campaign sparked a viral social media trend under #kissoflove, in which hundreds of people posted selfies kissing while holding up banners. Across India, various city chapters have organized other kiss-ins to fight for their right to kiss in public. Some participants in the Kolkata protest were arrested, and snapped kissing even as they sped away in the police van. The kissing protestors were met by kissing opponents. The led to a massive blow up that got press coverage all over. In fact, there’s another demonstration planned on Sunday(today) in Delhi.

It’s a message that’s loud and clear, but it’s not the only time that a kiss has been a form of protest. In the world of LGBT rights, couples kissing has often been a political act. Earlier in October, a group of students staged a kiss-in at grocery store Sainsbury’s after two gay women were threatened to get kicked out. Similar kiss-ins have been held at Chick-fil-a to protest the restaurant’s homophobic policies.

But in a larger sense, kissing is an effective tool in protests because it is a form of anti-violence. It stands opposed to the forces of oppression as a symbol of peace and warmth and familiarity. And that’s what the kiss of love is about: Reminding people of their humanity, and standing in opposition of law that would strip them of that.

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