In December 2013 the Delhi Supreme Court reinstated the colonial law banning homosexual act. This decision changed things for India’s Lesbian community, completely threatening the fragile gains they’d made.
Many who had once felt comfortable openly admitting who they were became terrified.
Speaking to NBC News, activist Anuja Parikh said…
“People came out after the high court verdict in 2009 because they thought everything was OK. Now that the Supreme Court has taken a massive backwards step, the people who came out of the closet are suddenly afraid because they can’t go back in.”
The court’s decision rattled Upasana Naithani, who lives with her partner Sonal Giani and works at an ad agency in Mumbai.
“I remember that for a month I was very scared. I remember being very scared that somebody might recognize us.”
I Would Love to Get Married Legally
The conservative Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) landslide victory in May elections, as well as comments made by some of its top officials, only compound many of these fears.
“Gay sex is not natural and we cannot support something which is unnatural,” Ranjnath Singh, who was president of the BJP and is now a cabinet minister, told journalists after the December ruling.
These enduring attitudes inevitably hurt the isolated the most. Gays and lesbians worry they will be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes or worse. On Sept. 25, a transgender woman was killed after being pushed off a moving train in Bangalore.
And while gay men are harassed, lesbians face a specific kind and harsher type of discrimination.
Much of India remains deeply traditional, with women facing intense pressure to marry and have children. Few have the option of living their lives alone and outside the family home.
These pressures, plus the fact that women generally do not feel they can be open about their sexuality, marginalize many lesbians and female bisexuals in India, activists say.
“Women’s sexuality is generally very taboo. I remember being harassed in my workplace because it came out that I was bisexual.”
“It’s not illegal to say you are lesbian or gay,” said Giani. “But how do you get a layman to understand that?”
So many gay men and lesbians worry that they are falling behind when it comes to fighting for equal rights after the gains that followed the 2009 ruling.