Indian activists are listening closely as the U.S. Supreme Court debates the issue of same sex marriage. VOA New Delhi correspondent Aru Pande takes a closer look at progress made on the issue of gay rights in India, nearly four years after a key court ruling that decriminalized homosexual sex.
The air date on the HereTV website was March 1st. Hopefully they’ll soon post the full episode.
“Trailer for documentary “Out In Mumbai.” Three members of Mumbai’s LGBT community share their personal stories and struggles on their way to a first anniversary celebration of the historic 2009 repeal of an oppressive anti-gay clause which had been part of the Indian Penal Code since 1860. Available excusively on HereTV.
MUMBAI: A week after a 28-year-old gay commuter was assaulted in a lavatory at Vasai station, a Government Railway Police (GRP) probe has established that his assailants were cops.
The victim claimed the plain-clothes policemen, Ravi Medge and Sandeep Waghchaure, extorted Rs 25,000 from him.
The accused -duo, Ravi Medge and Sandeep Waghchaure, are constables attached to the Vasai GRP outpost. A case of extortion has been registered against the policemen who are yet to be traced. Their superior and in-charge of the Vasai GRP outpost, Praful Kshirsagar, has been shunted to the control room for not acting immediately and failing to initiate a probe. The victim, a pharma firm employee from Vasai, was travelling home late on February 22. He boarded a Virar-bound local from Dadar station around 10.45pm and reached Vasai an hour later.
YAARIYAN presents MUMBAI QUEER FLASHMOB 2013 (by prashansa gurung)
I like the painted palms.
“On 25th January 2013, around 4:40 pm, the ever bustling Dadar East Station was brought to a standstill by a group of young men and women of diverse sexual orientations, all dancing to celebrate the spirit of LGBTHIQ Community in Mumbai and India.
The dance performance was made possible by young volunteers belonging to Yaariyan, a youth group working towards Queer youth issues in Mumbai.
QUEER AZAADI MUMBAI walked hands united on 2nd February 2013 from August Kranti Maidan bringing the Pride Week of activities and events to the grand finale - Mumbai Pride March 2013.”
TW: Rape, Sexual Assault, Violence
CHENNAI: When news of the brutal rape of a 23-year-old in the nation’s capital broke, it brought Vinodhan’s ghosts back to life. A few days after the woman died, he sat down at his computer and typed: ‘I am a rape survivor’.
Vinodhan was gang raped by six men at the age of 18. Even though it occurred 12 years ago, he is still scared of sleeping alone. He doesn’t feel safe among unknown men.
His post on the blog of Orinam, a Chennai-based support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people and allies, rips the veil from an issue that is rarely, if ever, addressed â€” male rape. “The Delhi rape and discussions around it acted as a trigger for me to write that post,” says Vinodhan.
Many male rape survivors like Vinodhan lead lives of quiet terror as they don’t get support from their families, society or police. Like him, many of them have spoken up after the Delhi rape.
“I was sexually assaulted when I was 29 in a small town in Kerala,” says Krishna. “I had got off a bus and was walking to my aunt’s house when I noticed a man following me.” In the dark lane that led to his aunt’s house, the stranger accosted him.
“The gate was locked when I reached, and the moment he realized it, he pinned me down. The sheer shock and shame at what was happening left me with no voice,” says Krishna. Finally, he called out for his uncle and escaped.
Vinodhan was gang raped when he went to meet a person he had befriended online. “What was waiting for me was something else. I was raped by six drunk men. They verbally abused me for being a homosexual, and took turns filming the whole thing,” he says. Confused, ashamed and angry, Vinodhan did not even seek medical help. “I thought everyone would blame me for hooking up,” he says. “I did not know how the police would treat a gay man.”
Krishna also didn’t speak about it to his family. “Nobody will believe that a grown man can get attacked,” he says.
In a society that celebrates masculinity, it becomes difficult for a man, straight or gay, to report rape. “They don’t have a platform to speak out. Even families don’t want to acknowledge it publicly,” says Ajay Sathyan, a counsellor.
Mumbai was colored rainbow on Saturday for the fifth Queer Azaadi Mumbai pride march.
Two-thousand people marched for LGBT rights urging the Indian government not to overturn the 2009 Delhi High Court decision to decriminalize gay sex.
‘Today we March ! Pride is here!’ said one of the organizers Pallav Patankar on Facebook on Saturday.
‘I march as a queer citizen of the world’s largest democracy to let people know that even I exist!’
The march started from August Kranti Maidan (August revolution ground) where Ghandi delivered his historic Quit India speech to the British colonial rulers and finished at the same place with speeches.
‘More young people come up on stage and speak about their sexuality, we also had straight allies come up on stage and support us,’ Patankar told Gay Star News.
Queer Azaadi Mumbai organizers had to petition the city’s traffic control after authorities originally refused permission for them to march on the streets. Five of the organizers met with the Joint Commissioner of Police Traffic, and he eventually gave them permission to march.
Queer Azaadi (meaning ‘freedom’ in Hindi) Mumbai has been held in the city since 2008, with a month of performances and parties leading up to the parade. The first pride march in Mumbai was in 2005.
A pride parade was also held in the Indian city of Hyderabad on Sunday. Police had initially refused the activists permission to march, but last month organizers were told the march could go ahead.
‘Such rallies are important for our community members because it provides us an opportunity to raise big issues impacting LGBT community,’ said Andy Silveira during the march, The Hindu reports.
‘There is a need for the society to seriously consider same sex marriages in India. This will definitely help stop discrimination of LGBT members.’
TW talk of rape, sexual assault
A committee formed to investigate how to curb sexual violence in India following the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman has recommended education about same-sex relationships and respect for LGBT identifying people.
The Justice J S Verma Committee, lead by former Chief Justice J S Verma, published a 631 page report on Wednesday after 29 days of research and writing. The panel of three heard 80,000 suggestions and anecdotes from members of the public while carrying out their investigation.
The Committee was created after several high-profile cases of rape against women, but broadened its scope to encompass all kinds of sexual violence, as well as the difficulty of reporting such crimes to the police.
Their decision to include recommendations to protect LGBT people was praised by activists in India and abroad.
Estimates suggest 80% of Mumbai’s male masseurs come from rural Mathura in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Historically, Mathura was a center for ‘Akhadas’ (wrestling schools). In these all male environments massage is used in the schools to relax muscle pain after strenuous practice. They live taboo lives — earning rupees for rubdowns and often selling their own flesh for the right price. Meet the male masseurs of Mumbai.
Their obscure existences in India’s largest city are mostly spurned by a society that stigmatizes gays and lesbians. But there are those trying to shine a light on what these workers endure — and to offer them a better way. Typically, boys from poor areas with little educational opportunities are the people exploited, said Ryan Day, spokesman for the nonprofit Love146, which works to combat child trafficking.
How frustrating for the organizing committee.
Traffic control has refused Queer Azaadi (freedom) Mumbai (QAM) permission to march through the city on Saturday 2 February.
Local police has agreed permission for the parade, which has been held every year since 2008, but traffic control rejected the organizers’ application.
‘They have just rejected our file without even meeting us or giving us any clear explanation,’ organizer Pallav Patankar told Gay Star News.
‘But we intend o speak to higher authorities and not let it go so easily.’
Patankar said he believed the hiccup was ‘just Indian bureaucracy’ rather than attempt to censor an expression of LGBT rights. He said there have been a lot of public protests in Mumbai recently and the authorities may feel that because QAM are not a political party, nor have political backing, ‘we are the easiest voices to silence’.
‘We, the LGBT community, walk the pride march to tell the nation that we are part of this country,’ Patankar told Times of India. ‘By denying us the right to march, we are being denied our right of free expression.’
The QAM festival started on Sunday with a kite flying event on Mumbai’s Juhu Beach and a queer games competition.
It was a scorching, sunny day as Bangalore set forth on its fifth annual Pride march. Estimates range from 2,000 to 5,000 participants, but all agree that today was Bangalore’s most succesful LGBT Pride march yet.
The march was organized by the Coalition of Sex Workers and Sexual Minorities (CSMR), the Alternative Law Forum, Swabhava, Payana, LesBiT, WHAQ, Good as You, Mangalamukhi, and other allied organizations and individuals in Karnataka, the southwestern state that surrounds Bangalore.
‘This pride procession is not just for the sake of celebration; it is a struggle for social justice, a political struggle, a struggle for life,’ the organizers said in a joint statement.
The march started from Tulsi Park and continued for five kilometres up to the Town Hall, where paraders gathered for speeches and music. Rainbow flags, colorful masks, and sparkling ethnic dress were in abundance.
Venkat Dileep travelled from Chennai to join the parade. He works with Chennai Dost, a support center and counseling service for LGBT individuals.
‘This is a chance to support our neighbors in Bangalore, for the LGBT community to join together,’ he said.
Corporate presence was strong, with employees from Accenture, Cisco, and IBM marching proudly, dressed in corporate T-shirts with accompanying banners. Google and Manhunt recognized the power of the Pink Rupee and handed out fans and yo-yos promoting their brands. Straight allies were also visible in the parade. Goldman Sachs had two busses full of gay and straight employees joining the event.
Compared with pride marches in other parts of the world, the transgender community was very visible. One organizer noted ‘of the people in the LGBT community facing problems, the transgender community has the biggest. They have no place to live. They cannot find jobs. We need to all work together to change this.’
Organizers handed out flyers with nine demands, ranging from anti-discrimination laws to to programs address homophobia and transphobia in schools and colleges. People driving by the march stopped to speak with the participants and to take a copy of the flyers to learn more.
‘This is all still new for India. Most people are just curious, and want to understand more,’ said Ramesh, one of the participants. ‘Next year we are aiming for 10,000!’
Posted on Nov 25, 2012 at 06:40pm IST
New Delhi: Hundreds of gays, lesbians and transgenders marched on the streets of the capital on Sunday protesting discrimination against them and demanding their right to live a life of dignity. Holding banners and rainbow-coloured flags, around 1,000 people marched from Barakhamba Road to Jantar Mantar on Sunday afternoon to register their protest against police excesses and forcible marriage by family.
With their faces covered with masks, the participants were seen holding placards that read ‘Delhi Pride Festival’ and ‘Straight but not Narrow’. Foreigners too participated in this fifth edition of the queer pride march held in Delhi.
“The participation this time was greater than the previous years,” one of the event’s organisers noted. The march comes three years after the Delhi High Court made changes in the law that made gay sex a crime.
Baby steps, but at least they are in the right direction.
Police in the Indian city of Pune are working to develop guidelines around how officers deal with LGBT people only a year after the city held its first pride march.
Officers from all of the city’s 32 police stations were to have attended a workshop today aimed at creating awareness of the needs and issues faced by LGBT individuals in India.
The workshop was organized by the social security unit of the Police crime branch on the instruction of Pune city police commissioner Gulabrao Pol and crime commissioner Shahaji Solunke and will be conducted by LGBT health advocacy group the Sampathik Trust.
Senior Inspector Bhanupratap Barge told The Times of India that several cases where either a suspect or complainant are LGBT had been referred to his department recently and that these cases had to be handled with care.
‘Small mistakes can lead to mental trauma to the victim or the suspect,’ Barge said.
‘There is a need to train the police in dealing with these cases. There is also a need for guidelines for frisking such persons and for taking them into custody.’
Once guidelines have been drafted they will be sent to the Office of the Director General of Maharashtra state police and the state’s Home Affairs and Law departments for comment and approval.
Nearly a hundred people took part in Pune’s first pride march on December 11 last year which was organized by the Sampathik Trust to mark the tenth anniversary of its fight for the rights of homosexuals in what is India’s eighth largest city.
India’s longest running LGBT film festival will be celebrating its sixth year tomorrow (23 November).
The three-day ‘Dialogues’ festival in Kolkata, the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, will showcase more than 40 films of differing genres from coming-of-age dramas and experimental films to documentaries.
Nil, an Indian designer closely associated with the festival, believes it will offer something for everyone.
‘The number of films screened this year is almost double of last year’s. For the first time we are having parallel screenings,’ he told the Hindustan Times.
The festival will also showcase 10 full length feature films from around the world, from countries like Germany, India, France and Peru.
The films shown will be a mix of mainstream releases and more obscure titles, including the acclaimed Eyes Wide Open from Israel.
The festival is organised by Sappho for Equality (SFE) and Pratyay Gender Trust (PGT).
Anindya Hajra, of PGT, said: ‘The festival primarily celebrates writers, directors, actors and their work dealing with LGBT and queer themes and issues. But over the years both LGBT and non-LGBT audiences have shown interest.’
The festival will open with the premiere of ‘Guide Gufran’, a film about self-discovery with themes on sexuality and spirituality.
An Indian gold medalist at the 2006 Asian Games has been accused of lying about her gender amid allegations that the female sprinter raped a woman.
Pinki Pramanik was charged on Monday (12 November) with raping and assaulting her female housemate in West Bengal, who claims the athlete is actually a man and broke a promise to marry her.
Indian police said results from a gender test proved she is biologically male.
However, Pramanik told New Delhi Television it is a ‘huge conspiracy’ and claims her male features are side effects of drugs which she used during her sporting career.
An earlier report by the same medical board in July found that the sports star showed ‘features of intersex’ and claimed she would be incapable of intercourse as a man, reported the Times of India.
Under current Indian law rape can only be commited by a man but the report stopped short of ruling out the charges against Pramanik.
The athlete was first arrested in June but released on bail the following month. The case sparked an outcry from campaigners who accused authorities of gender discrimination.
Her case has echoes of a 2009 incident when South African runner Caster Semenya was forced by the International Association of Athletics Federations to undergo 11 months of invasive gender testing after she was deemed too fast and too muscular to be a real woman.
Intersex people may quite naturally produce higher levels of male or female hormones than average for their identified gender.