Tag Archives: India’s LGBT Community

A Lesbian Couple Attempt Suicide In Mumbai After They Are Forbidden To See Each Other

A few weeks ago it was reported that two women from Mumbai both attempted suicide after they were reported to one of the girls Father’s for both being in a relationship. The Father forbade his daughter to see her partner again and he also sought the help of a political adviser who scolded both the girls. Consequently, they both decided they couldn’t be apart. One of the girls drank disinfectant but survived. The other girl tried to hang herself from the ceiling but she sadly died.

This is not just an isolated event either. During 1995 – 2003 Sahayatrika (a support group for lesbian, bisexual and Transgender people in Kerala) reported that 22 women in the state of Kerala had committed suicide because of similar circumstances and this was only cases that had made the newspapers. The actual figures could be much more. The LGBT rights group, Humsafar trust, has dealt with 12 cases in Mumbai alone since 2014. Koninika Roy, the advocacy manager of the trust said:

The reaction of parents in such cases is shocking. It is harrowing to hear the women speak. They are full of guilt and they want understanding from their families, but they don’t get it.”

In April of this year two women who fell in love at college were harassed by their families to such an extent they decided to run away from home so they could be together. One of the women wrote a letter to Koninika and in it she stated:

I was scared of society, my family, the issue of caste and the issue of gender. We became sure our families would not accept us.”

Not long after they had left home they were found and brought back to their home town by the police. The police refused to listen when they tried to explain their love for each other and they were told they should:

go and marry a boy and live happily.”

The girls were then forced to return back to their family homes, their mobiles were taken from them and their parents placed them under house arrest.  After hearing about the two women from the letter, Humsafar helped them leave home and they are now living elsewhere together. Humsafar is also counselling both sets of parents in order to educate them and help them to accept and understand their daughters.

Homosexuality is considered an illegal act according to 377 of The Indian Penal Code and is a punishable offence. There have been many attempts to overturn the act but so far it has not happened. There are support groups available but many Indian women are even too scared to approach them for fear of repercussions if they are found out. The 24 hour suicide prevention helpline in Mumbai, Aasra, says that at least 10 -12% of the calls they receive are from queer people who are suffering because of family and friends attitudes toward their sexuality.

Many of the help groups are calling that support and counselling needs to be given to the families of members in the LGBTQ community as they are also scared of what their own friends and neighbours will say and do to them for having a queer child.

The founder of another support group for Lesbian, bisexual and transgendered women, Umang, said:

They are frightened of the social situation they will have to face… Since the situation is more restrictive for women and family policing is higher, women often end up taking drastic steps.”

More needs to be done to educate people in India and to get the law changed. Only then will cases like this stop happening.

India’s LGBTQ Community Share Their Coming Out Stories In New Insightful Web Series

The new seven-part web series, Coming Out, features inspiring tales of members of the India’s LGBTQ community, who are coming out to their families, across India and across sections of economic classes.

One frank and honest story features Justine Mellocastro, a hairstylist and fashion entrepreneur in Mumbai, who is bisexual.

In the episode, her mother is shown saying,

First, I went into turmoil, frankly. There were so many things flying through my head. You worry about society, that’s the only thing that comes to mind. And then I said, finally, “I love my kid”.”

Another story features, Chanchal Jain who transitioning from a woman to a man. When Jain works up the courage to broach the subject with his small-town parents, he was in for a larger surprise than they were: his father, quickly recovering, only said, “Well, do you want to get the surgery done?”


Produced by youth content company 101India, these stories are told in a matter-of-fact, conversational style, and are not overly emotional or depressing.

Discussing the documentaries, Justine says

Usually, all you hear are negative stories. My story is only positive — my family was ultra-supportive, and I’ve been in long-term relationships with women too — including a live-in relationship. We’ve got so many nice comments on the video, most of them congratulating my mum for her attitude. I think it’s mainly the government that has a problem with homosexuality.”

Cyrus Oshidhar, founder of 101India added.

This series isn’t about the Bollywood-isation of the issue. We don’t want to overlay the videos with any message, but show snapshots of real stories. The clear subtext is about parents and acceptance, and that it is possible to have a normal, loving family unit.”

Four episodes are out online.

India’s Politicians Vote Against Bill That Would Decriminalize Homosexuality

LGBT activists in India have failed once again to make gay sex legal in the country.

National Congress MP Shashi Tharoor fought hard for a bill that would remove the colonial era law, but politicians voted again the bill that would decriminalize homosexuality.

This is the second time politicians have voted to keep Section 377, which was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 2013.

The private members bill was defeated by a vote of 58 to 14, with one abstaining.

Writing on Twitter, Shashi said:

Bitter disappointment as my attempt to introduce my bill to amend Section 377 defeated again. Several MPs who’s promised to vote in favour absent.

So bigotry and homophobia on the BJP side met indifference and prejudice on the opposition’s. Will have to leave it to the Supreme Court to revolve.

Since I had no opportunity to speak on 377, I took the opportunity of a speech on the Transgender Rights Bill to make the broader argument.

Indian culture and history reveal no intolerance of sexual difference or orientation and embrace the ardhanarishvara. BJP prefers British colonial law.”

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India’s Broadcasting Council Is Not A Fan of Grey’s Anatomy Or Its ‘Homosexual Encounters’ Between Women

India’s Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) has issued a notice to a channel fir airing an episode of US drama Grey’s Anatomy.

Grey’s Anatomy 01

The scene that caused complaints from viewers involved a female doctor telling her male colleague about failing to please her (female) partner, and asked him to teach her via a physical demonstration.

Grey’s Anatomy 02

The industry-lead Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) issued the notice and labelled the medical drama “obscene and vulgar”, and accused of “denigrating women” by screening a “homosexual encounter.”

A senior member of the council said:

Keeping Indian audiences in mind, we felt that the scenes were not tasteful. So we have asked them to respond”.

This is the latest in a string of instances of TV channels being held accountable for broadcasting LGBT content.

Two years ago India made the shock move to recriminalize gay sex in a shock ruling.

Despite the government’s ruling, there is still support for gay people in the country with India’s  biggest political party supporting decriminalising homosexuality once again.

Amazing | Delhi’s First Ever LGBT Flash Mob Put on A Show Like No Other (Video)

India may not be the most progressive of countries when it comes to LGBT rights, but if the recent flash mob in the capital is anything to go by, more and more people are coming out in support of decriminalising homosexuality.


This weekend, Delhi saw it’s first LGBT flash mob at Connaught Place – one of the popular places in the city – presented by an organisation called Harmless Hugs.

The almost 10-minute performance was not only about dance, but also subtext, as it showed same-sex couples come together and be separated. This open portrayal of these homosexual couples sent a strong message across.

Indian Film Tackles the Subject ‘Corrective Rape’ and the Families who Condone These Attacks on their own Children

Sadly, ‘Corrective Rape’ is word we’re hearing way to often, and case studies across the globe have chronicled cases of ‘Corrective Rape’ on women who’ve been discovered to be gay.

Shockingly, it is the woman’s own family facilitate the rape – permitting strangers to rape them, as they foolishly assuming that that is the only corrective measure for their girl to be cured from Lesbianism and she will start thinking “Normally”

According to statistics with the Crisis intervention team of LGBT Collective in Telangana, India, there have been several of ‘corrective rapes’ that have been reported to the group in recent years.

A member of the team, Vyjayanti Mogli, said they are sure there are many more cases, but they go unreported, says

We came across such cases not because they reported the rape, but because they sought help to flee their homes.”

In most cases of corrective rape, the perpetrators are family members because of which the victims refrain from seeking legal recourse.

Victims find it traumatising to speak of their brothers/ cousins turning rapists and prefer to delete the incident from their memories and cut off ties with their families. Which is why such cases almost never get reported.”

Shockingly, it’s all in the family — the parents are in the know, the rapist is usually a relative that is handpicked by them, and it’s like a ‘disciplining project’ designed to ‘cure’ and ‘correct’ the homosexual.

It’s usually a cousin who’s roped in for this ‘project’. In some communities in South India, marriages amongst cousins are common. Many times, a girl’s parents may decide that she would be married off to a cousin (i.e. her father’s sister’s son or mother’s brother’s son) soon after her birth. Now, if this girl happens to be queer and if it is found out that she is in a relationship with another girl, elders in the family believe having sex with the ‘would-be’, even if it’s forcibly, will cure her.”

Hyderabadi girl’s film on corrective rape

Hyderabadi filmmaker Deepthi Tadanki’s upcoming film, Satyavati deals with the subject of corrective rape. The film is based on some “shocking real life instances” that took place in Bangalore.

When I was researching on this subject for my film, I came across two gut wrenching stories of corrective rape — one, where a gay girl was raped by her cousin so that she could be “cured” of homosexuality; and another, where family members forced a gay boy to have sex with his mother, in a bid to turn him ‘straight’. I tried reaching out to these victims, but they refused to talk.”

Explaining how difficult it is to find statistics for a topic so taboo, Deepthi says,

I wrote to NGOs who work with victims of such hate crimes seeking help with statistics. but to my surprise, not one organisation got back. Many rapes go unreported in India, and it will take years before something like corrective rape even gets talked about. That’s why I wanted to tell this story. I knew it is a sensitive subject, something that has never been dealt with before. I didn’t even have any statistics, but I had the conviction.”

Satyavati talks about a lesbian couple and their straight friend.

When the family members of the ‘straight’ girl visits her, they doubt that she is in an ‘unnatural’ relationship with one of the lesbian girls. And so, they plot a ‘corrective rape’ on their daughter as well as the gay girl,” reveals the 27-year-old Guntur native, who has turned to crowdsourcing to raise funds for the film. “Forty per cent of the film is now complete, but I am facing a financial crunch. I have been trying to crowd source money to complete the rest of the film. While lot of people said ‘kudos’ and ‘hats off’, very few are willing to make monetary contribution. But I won’t give up because a discussion on corrective rape needs to be initiated.”

India’s LGBT Community Seeks Obama’s Support

While many may disagree with his politics and his policies, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, has often made headlines with his outspoken support for the United States’ LGBT community. While he originally said that he believed marriage should only be between a man and a woman, several years later he became the first in-office president to voice support for same sex marriage, he helped repeal DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell), a law which prohibited members of the military from coming out and just this week he made history by using his State of the Union speech to condemn the persecution of LGBT people.

On the other hand, you have India. Despite once decriminalising homosexuality, India repealed that decision and re-criminalised it in 2013 meaning that being gay or having same-sex intercourse could see you face lifetime imprisonment. India’s ruling party the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that they would like to legalise homosexuality once more, calling it the “progressive way forward”, but unfortunately they don’t appear to be doing much about it.

That’s why India’s LGBT community is hopeful ahead of Barack Obama’s visit to the country this weekend. They are calling on him to help make a change and to help end the persecution against them.

A member of the LGBT community, Gautham Gayan, told the Times of India that:

“We decided to begin an online campaign and contacted our counterparts in other cities to coordinate. We are creating awareness and raising our voices so that the message reaches Obama and those in the Indian legislature.”

Gautham Gayan

So far that online campaign has to come to fruition as a hashtag (#ObamaForQueerIndia) and a petition. The petition, which currently has 652 signatures, says the following to Obama:

“We are not a minuscule [sic] minority. And we ask you to support us by speaking about our rights when you meet our leaders. Our voices can be ignored by our leaders, yours cannot. Help the LGBTQIA community in India get the freedom and equal rights that they so truly deserve.”

The petition and the campaign have both been garnering attention and so they will hopefully encourage Obama to speak out. The US State Department previously called on India to end the ban so it does seem likely that the president himself will follow suit.

Madhu Kinnar Becomes India’s First Transgender Mayor

When it comes to LGB rights, India has a notably poor track record. Not only is being gay illegal (and can result in a lifetime imprisonment) but homosexual intercourse has also been a criminal offense in the Indian Penal Code since 1860. The Delhi High Court once deemed these laws to be a direct violation of the rights provided by the Indian Constitution but this ruling was overturned in 2013.

Where the Asian country does a lot deal better is with trans folk. In the state of Tamil Nadu, there is a transgender welfare policy whereby those looking to undergo Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) can do so for free in a Government Hospital (though sadly, this applies to MTF only). This policy also allows for free housing program; various citizenship documents; admission in government colleges with full scholarship for higher studies.

In India, trans people were also granted voting rights (albeit as a ‘third’ sex) in 1994. Consider it a reflection of their (somewhat) progressive attitude then that trans politician Madhu Kinnar has been elected as India’s first transgender mayor.

Kinnar’s win took place in Chhattisgarh, a state in Central India. The area is home to 25.5 million people making it the 10th largest state in the country – it also makes her win all the more significant.

An independent candidate, she beat her opponent (Bharatiya Janata Party’s Mahaveer Guruji) by 4,537 votes, which is a relatively slim margin. However, her win is monumental and Kinnar took it in her stride,

“People have shown faith in me. I consider this win as love and blessings of people for me. I’ll put in my best efforts to accomplish their dreams. I only spent Rs. 60,000-70,000 from my earnings during my campaign. It was the public support that encouraged me to enter the poll fray for the first time and because of their support only, I emerged as the winner.”

Not that there haven’t been naysayers, though. The Congress Party have dismissed Kinnar’s win as the result of a protest vote, with Raigarh district Congress President Narendra Negi saying that “There was no Modi wave in Raigarh this time. People of Raigarh were fed up with the corruption of BJP, hence they voted for Madhu. It is not Madhu Kinnar’s victory, but it’s a loss of BJP.”

Doubters aside, Kinnar has made history and we look forward to hearing about her policies in the coming months.

Delhi University Holds its First Ever Lesbian Film Festival

Delhi University will hosted its first-ever lesbian film festival with around 100 people in attendance. The two-day event has been organised by the Universities Gender Studies Group.

The group is currently working hard to raise awareness regarding women’s sexuality and marginalisation of lesbians.

“We are holding a film festival and calling it a lesbian film festival because of the marginalisation of lesbians in our culture. Women who love women are erased. Same sex culture is dominated by gay men. Women are not given space to be on their own. So, we want to create that space and focus on how to create that space.”

The film festival will showcased, Deepa Mehta’s ‘Fire’ starring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das.

“We have focused on Indian films because lesbian space is particularly neglected here. We have a range of films from an earlier representation of lesbians in art film Umbartha in 1983 to Fire in 1998, which created a great controversy and inaugurated a lesbian movement in Delhi in the form of CALERI (campaign for lesbian rights).”

Other films shown will be Debalina Majumder’s Ebang Bewarish (…And the Unclaimed) and And You Thought You Knew Me by activist Pramada Menon, Jabbar Patel’s ‘Subah’, and ‘Umbartha’ starring Smita Patil and Girish Karnad.

There was also three works by Kolkata-based filmmaker, Debalina Majumder, were also be featured in the festival.

Another film, ‘Taar Cheye Shey Anek Aaro’ (More than a friend), which looks into the life of four individuals in the background of rising awareness on same-sex relationships. The film also has real-life interviews of people from various sections of society.

India’s LGBT Community Rejoices at Health Minister’s Comments

Homophobia is not an inherently held opinion; it’s learnt, bred and taught to people before they’ve wised up enough to know better or because there simply aren’t any forces to tell them otherwise.

Often, homophobia – or a general dismay for anything queer – is institutionalised and sanctioned, particularly by stifling, human rights defying laws. That’s especially the case in countries subject to colonialism in the past centuries as although the many European colonies upped and left long ago and gave (most) countries their independence back, they left behind homophobia and anti-gay laws. India is one such country but after recent comments by the country’s health minister their may just be hope for India’s LGBT community yet.

Speaking recently, India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told reporters that “everybody has human rights. It is the job of the government to protect them,” when asked about his personal views on gay rights and whether or not gay sex should continue to be criminalised.

In India, Section 377 of IPC (which criminalises homosexuality) was almost repealed in 2009 but this has since been upheld and will be subject to petition, so understand, Vardhan’s comment have made serious waves. He joins fellow BJP party member Ram Madhav (the general secretary for the party) who recently stated that although he didn’t advocated for consensual gay sex, it’s up for debate about whether it should be criminalised.

This is particularly hopeful for those hoping that Section 377 will be overturned once and for all but LGBT activists in the country will have somewhat of an uphill battle on their hands as BJP’s official stance is that they support Section 377 and think that it should remain in place. BJP’s party opinion is divided though, despite their official word so with the anti-gay epithet clearly losing some of its bite, this is a human rights campaign to watch.