Gay India News & Reports 2010 Jan-Sep

Gay Bombay Yahoo Group
GayLaxy Magazine

The Queer Cronicle

1 Video: India awaits final ruling on gay sex 1/10

1a MSM and women in Bangalore, South India, and HIV

2 Male sex workers in India 2/10

3 Transgender beauty pageant concludes in Mumbai 2/10

3b Sexual behaviour of MSM and transgenders in Southern India

4 Transgenders say they still face ‘harassment’ in city 3/10

5 Where gays hide their pride 3/10

6 Govt sets ball rolling on repeal of gay sex law 3/10

6a Commentary: Iraq is the most dangerous place on Earth for gays 3/10

7 Indian professor ‘commits suicide’ after students launch gay sex sting 4/10

8 First gay film festival begins in India 4/10

9 India’s answer to Brokeback Mountain ready to hit cinemas 4/10

10 Indian film festival promotes gay rights 4/10

11 Fridae’s LGBT People to Watch 2010: Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil 5/10

12 ‘The Queer Chronicle’ – monthly e-magazine 5/10

13 Creating their world under spotlights 6/10

14 Numbers dwindle, but families, new faces make it to gay march 6/10

15 India’s first online gay bookstore opens 6/10

15a City Life – Gay Delhi is Getting Straight 7/10

16 Happy to be gay! 7/10

16a Gays celebrate one year of Delhi High Court judgment 7/10

17 Transgenderism in India: ‘People just use us for sex’ 7/10

18 The Tale of an Indian Prince 7/10

18a Iraq: The War Against Sexual Minorities Continues 8/10

19 Indian gay film faces censors as star’s family disowns him 9/10

January 21, 2010 – PinkNews

Video: India awaits final ruling on gay sex

by Staff Writer,
The Indian Supreme Court is expected to give a final ruling on repealing the ban on gay sex next month. Last year, the Delhi High Court ruled that the colonial-era law was unconstitutional. Although this decision applied only to the jurisdiction of Delhi, gay rights campaigners hope it will persuade other areas to follow suit. Today, a Channel 4 News Online report suggested that along with legislative change, attitudes to homosexuality in the capital were slowly becoming more positive, with gay Bollywood storylines and even a gay pride shop.

However, the importance of marriage in society means that many gay men are still expected to marry women. Anjali Gopalan of gay rights group the Naz Foundation told the news service: "I think a lot of men in this country are having sex with men and they don’t necessarily have the gay identity.

"Most men who have a gay identity are the upper class, westernised, English-speaking people. Most men who have sex with men want to get married because the whole idea of getting married is about providing security for their parents and having somebody to look after them in their old age."

Gay rights campaigners had argued that the law was not only unconstitutional but was also hampering efforts to fight HIV. Section 377 was enacted in 1860 under the British Raj, in line with the anti-sodomy laws in England at the time. It punishes anyone who "voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" by imprisonment and criminalises a whole range of sexual acts from mutual masturbation, to fellatio and anal sex. Offenders can expect up to ten years in prison.

February 2010 – Photo Philanthropy

Male sex workers in India

by Isabell Zipfel
They have the same customers. Their life histories and experiences are similar. They have the same problems and worries. The stories they have to tell are similar: stories of missed opportunities, of poverty, hopelessness and exploitation. But one thing is different: female sex workers in India are visible, male not. But they are there. It’s just that their reality – if not even their existence – is denied.

Most are Kothis – men who feel themselves to be women and to be attracted to men – or gays and bisexuals, who pursue sex work in India. Mostly they are driven by lack of money. Many have no job at all, or an underpaid one.

I conducted the photo reportage and the interviews at Bharosa Trust. The staff helped me to make local contacts. In India the sexes are strictly separated. Sexual contact outside the traditional marriage is forbidden. Men don’t necessarily go to a male sex worker because they are homosexual, but because access to male sex workers is easier than to female. It’s less a matter of preference than of availability. In addition, female sex workers are more conspicuously clothed and made up than other Indian women, whereby they are easy to identify for everybody. The risk of being picked up by the police as a customer of a female sex worker is high.

Men who pursue sex work in India are doubly criminalised. On the one hand, same sex practices are prohibited by article 377 of the Indian penal code. On the other hand, sex work is illegal. Male sex workers operate thus outside the law, which leaves them unprotected and defenceless. They are often victims of violence, unfair treatment and rape.

22 January 2010 – Sexuallt Transmitted Infections

Men who have sex with men and women in Bangalore, South India, and potential impact on the HIV epidemic

A E Phillips, C M Lowndes, M C Boily, G P Garnett, K Gurav, B M Ramesh, J Anthony, S Moses, M Alary
Correspondence to Dr A Phillips, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, St Mary’s Campus, Imperial College, London W2 1PG, UK; a.phillips05{at}

Objective The aim of this study was to quantify differences in patterns of sexual behaviour among men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) compared with men who have sex with men only (MSMO), and to examine the extent to which bisexual behaviour may act as a bridge for introducing HIV infection into the general population.

A cross-sectional survey in Bangalore city in 2006, which sampled men seeking sex with men in public places and hammams (bath houses where transgender individuals sell sex to men).

Among a sample of 357 men reporting same-sex behaviour; 41% also reported sex with a woman in the past year and 14% were currently married to a woman, only two of whom had informed their wives about having sex with men. Condom use was very inconsistent with all male partners, while 98% reported unprotected vaginal sex with their wives. MSMW reported lower rates of risky behaviour with other men than MSMO: fewer reported selling sex (17% vs 58%), or receptive anal sex with known (28% vs 70%) or unknown (30% vs 59%) non-commercial partners.

Bisexual behaviour was common among men seeking sex with men sampled in this survey. Although MSMW reported lower rates of risky sexual behaviour with male partners than MSMO, inconsistent condom use with both male and female partners indicates a potential means of HIV transmission into the general population. HIV prevention programmes and services should reach bisexual men who potentially expose their male and female partners to HIV.

22nd February, 2010 – Bombay News

Transgender beauty pageant concludes in Mumbai

by Bombay News.Net
Mumbai – In a unique beauty contest in Mumbai, eighteen transgendered models walked the ramp at the grand finale of India’s first transgender beauty pageant. The contest titled, ‘Super Queen’ was organised by Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi, a known transgendered person and activist. The auditions for the contest took place in 10 cities.

Veteran Bollywood actor Zeenat Aman and Celina Jaitley were among the judges who gave away the prizes to the winner, first runner up, and two second runners-up.

"Since my childhood I used to think of participating in beauty pageants meant for us. When I came to know about this contest, I participated. I had done no preparation for this; what all I knew, I just focussed on that throughout the whole contest. I have not gone through any specific training for this," said Bobby from Manipur, who was crowned ‘Super Queen’. The sponsors of the contest also pledged to set up a separate school for the people of the community, which will look into their specific needs

"With an aim to cure the stigma attached to the community, we have decided to set up a technical school in Thane especially for them which will take care of the proper grooming," said Sunil Saldanha, MD of VCare group of companies, which sponsored the contest. The winner of the contest was awarded one million rupees, 800,000 went to the first runner-up and 500,000 rupees each to two second runners-up.

February 2010 – Imperial College

Sexual behaviour of men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgenders in Southern India

by Phillips, Anna – Thesis or dissertation

The HIV epidemic in India remains predominantly concentrated in groups where individuals display high risk behaviours, including men who have sex with men (MSM). Widespread behavioural changes are crucial to the control of HIV, but need to be informed by an understanding of the risk factors for infection. However, reliability and validity of self-reported behaviour are difficult to determine. This thesis aims to contribute to the literature comparing innovative data collection modes for self-reported HIV risk behaviour in developing countries. Methods The Avahan programme is a large-scale HIV-prevention project that focuses on the six states in India with the highest HIV prevalence. The programme focuses on core and bridging groups, including MSM. This thesis presents the findings of one aspect of the monitoring and evaluation: behavioural data collected using face-to-face interviews (FTFI) and informal confidential voting interviews (ICVI) among MSM sampled in public place and Hammam cruising sites in Bangalore. Results A review of empirical data collected in developing countries comparing FTFI with new interviewing tools, found private data collection methods to have mixed success in reducing underreporting of risky behaviour.

A comparison of ICVI and FTFI in India found that ICVI significantly increased reporting of stigmatised behaviours, but results did not adhere consistently to expectation. A number of self-identified categories of MSM are commonly applied in the intervention context in India, each of which was generally associated with different HIV-risk behaviours. Although there was evidence of role segregation and identity-specific behaviour, the categories were found to be more fluid than has previously been documented. Bisexual behaviour was common, and condom use with female partners was low, which suggests a potential bridge of HIV transmission into the general population. Conclusions The dataset provided a solid description of HIV risk behaviours among MSM cruising in public places in Bangalore, which has immediate implications for designing appropriate targeted HIV prevention programmes that address fluidity in risk behaviour between MSM identities and reach out to behaviourally bisexual men, rather than treating MSM as a homogenous group. Both the systematic review and the comparison of ICVI and FTFI highlighted difficulties in gathering ‘truthful’ self-reported behaviour, as determining the precise reasoning where individual responses departed from the presumed norm was impossible. Qualitative research might contribute to a better understanding of the motivations behind reporting biases amongst MSM.

March 19, 2010 – India Express

Transgenders say they still face ‘harassment’ in city

The Delhi High Court’s judgment decriminalising homosexuality has hardly made any difference to the rate of gay hate crimes in the city, it was revealed at the State Consultation for MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) and Transgenders organised by MANAS Bangla in Science City today.

“We are still harassed as before. In fact, we are harassed more by both the police and the goons,” said Salia, a transgender who attended the conference.

Activists blamed the stunted growth of the LGBT movement in India on the blind aping of the Western model.

“Just organising pride marches and seminars will not help our cause. The sensitising process should be more widespread,” said Rajarshi Chakraborty, dean, Department of History, Krishnath College, Behrampore.

“Most of the activities of the LGBT organisations are limited to the urban centres. I don’t know of any LGBT organisation based out of a village in West Bengal. How can we change the thing if we don’t reach out to the grassroots,” said Chakraborty.

March 20, 2010 – The Sydney Morning Herald

Where gays hide their pride

by Matt Wade
Sexual identity can be complicated in India, where few men are brave enough to call themselves gay, writes Matt Wade. Bollywood is not known for holding back. But something is missing from its assortment of muscle-bound idols and glamorous leading ladies: openly gay stars. India’s glitzy entertainment hub, like the rest of the country, still likes to maintain traditional sexual identities, at least in public. But behind closed doors, the sexual behaviour of many Indian men and women is much more complicated.

Ashok Row Kavi, an expert on India’s sexual minorities, estimates ”40 to 50 million” Indian men have sex with other men, although most of them are married and relatively few would call themselves gay. ”Here the world of men having sex with men is not monolithic, it is very diverse,” he says. Kavi, one of the first Indians to come out as gay, in 1984, believes those who identify with India’s gay community are between just 5 and 10 per cent of the country’s homosexuals. It tends to be English-speaking, wealthy and is concentrated in major cities, especially Mumbai. ”Working-class men who have sex with other men don’t really identify as being gay,” says Kavi. ”They are mostly married, they have another identity.”

Sujan, a 21-year-old sex worker at Mumbai’s busy Andheri railway station, reflects this complexity. He has been selling sex on the streets of Mumbai for four years and identifies as a homosexual. But every three months or so Sujan switches to a traditional sexual identity when he travels home to visit his conservative Rajasthan village: ”It’s different when I am in my village. I have told my parents I will get married.”

Ajay, another Andheri sex worker dressed in a tight pink shirt with ”playboy” emblazoned across his shoulder blades, says he joined a recent gay pride march in Mumbai. But he does not identify strongly with the tag.

”Gay and homo are words wealthy and educated people use,” he says. ”The people around here call us gur [raw sugar] or mitha [sweet].”

Young homosexual men in Mumbai often move between multiple city identities including sex worker, massage boy, student and even Bollywood film extra. But they may have a wife and family back in their village.

Read Entire Article

March 21, 2010 – India Express

Govt sets ball rolling on repeal of gay sex law

by Maneesh Chhibber
New Delhi : While the challenge mounted by individuals and NGOs to the Delhi High Court judgment decriminalising gay sex is still pending in the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has quietly set in motion a move to take same-gender sex out of criminal jurisprudence.
A communication from the MHA to the Ministry of Law and Justice, sent earlier this week, asks the latter to prepare a draft of an amendment Bill to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the most striking feature of which is that Section 377 would no longer deal with the offence involving voluntary “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” between consenting adults of the same gender.

Sources in the Law Ministry told The Sunday Express that the MHA proposal with regard to amendment to Section 377 talks only of “carnal intercourse with animals”. The proposed amended Section 377 reads: “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse with animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment or either description for a term which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine”.

Senior officers of the MHA refused to either confirm or deny the move, maintaining the matter was sub-judice. It is, however, learnt that the MHA plans to circulate the proposed amendment among state governments for their comments but at the same time await the final decision of the Supreme Court in the matter. While the Centre has already indicated to the court that it is not averse to the idea of decriminalising gay sex among consenting adults, the latest move is the first concrete evidence of a change of thinking within the government on the contentious issue which had divided the previousgovernment.

Sources also said that while the MHA wants to decriminalise gay sex, it could have given in to the strong demand of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) and the National Commission for Women (NCW) to keep rape gender-specific.

So far, the MHA was keen that the offence of rape be made gender-neutral, as recommended by the Law Commission of India in its 172nd report and supported by previous Union Law Secretary T K Vishwanathan. But the MWCD and NCW opposed any move to make rape gender-neutral. A panel led by Home Secretary G K Pillai discussed the issue. One way out suggested was that rape could continue to be a women-specific offence. In case of males under the age of 18, if sexually abused, a new Section (376E) in the IPC could be added. This clause could deal with the offence of unlawful sexual contact with males below the age of 18. An offence would carry a punishment up to seven years. Strangely, the new law doesn’t propose any punishment if the age of the male in question is over 18.

March 27th, 2010 – SDGLN

Commentary: Iraq is the most dangerous place on Earth for gays

by Paul Canning – LGBT Asylum News
Editor’s note: This commentary first appeared on Pink News in the United Kingdom.

London – It often shocks people to hear this but talk to Iraqi gays who’ve made it out and they’ll tell you – Life was better under Saddam. Baghdad played the role that Beirut does now as a sanctuary for Middle Eastern gay life with clubs which men from the Gulf and Saudi Arabia flocked to. In sharp contrast, for the past six years Iraq has been the worst place in the entire world to be gay. Far, far worse than Uganda or even Iran. Hundreds of gays, lesbians and transgender people have been hunted down and killed in the most vile ways imaginable – and imagination is the right word. Doctors have confirmed reports of men have had their anuses glued shut by militia forces and others have accused the government of being involved.

No one has been prosecuted and the Iraqi government has failed to do anything to stop it. So Iraqi gays have helped themselves. They have created safe houses, although many have been discovered and become a new killing field. Many have fled but they have faced a cold wall of indifference and they have needed friends and luck to actually make it to sanctuary. Our government, the British government, has turned its back on those who have arrived here. All have initially been refused asylum. The system instead has told them that Iraq is safe and they should go home.

I am not making this up. Faceless bureaucrats in Alan Johnson’s department (and Jacqui Smith’s and John Reid’s before him) have had the front to write "Iraq is safe" on gay asylum letters. Why? How? Because they can. Because no one, no gay MP, no LGBT group, no one has pressured them, forced them, to do otherwise. It gets worse. Because of an "unfit for purpose" system, their claims take years to resolve, wasting untold amounts of taxpayers’ money as other bureaucrats and Johnson’s hired gun lawyers fight them to the bitter end despite the mountain of evidence that Iraq is a death zone for gays.

In the meantime they survive on handouts as they’re not allowed to work. They are stressed out in ways those of us lucky enough to be born in the West cannot begin to imagine, fearing that Johnson’s agents will pick them up and put them on a plane to Baghdad. Of course there are people helping Iraqi gays who make it here, though they are few. Most of all Iraqi gays are helping themselves. Chief amongst them is Ali Hili, the leader of organized group Iraqi LGBT. It is he who first brought the world’s attention to the pogrom against gays in Iraq. He has had the balls to be the public face and has paid the price in death threats and a fatwa against him.

But he is stuck in what John Reid described as an "unfit" system. This incredibly brave gay leader is just another number and the failure to grant him asylum is affecting the ability of Iraqi gays to draw the world’s attention to their plight. He cannot go visit the U.S. Congress. He cannot visit the European parliament. In both places there are Very Important People, those who can practically help, who want to hear firsthand of the situation.

He has already told the Foreign Office. This other branch of the same government, whose gay minister Chris Bryant proudly touts its work on supporting gays around the world. The Foreign Office is extremely keen to take Ali’s evidence, write it up in their Human Rights Report and use that to sell the caring-and-sharing face of the UK government, especially to gay voters. So when you read the letter from some minion in the UK Border Agency saying that his case is not "compelling", that his case cannot be expedited so he can go visit Washington and New York and Brussels, what do you think? Does it make you angry?

Yes? Do something. Ask your MP – you can find them on this Web site – to ask the Home Secretary Alan Johnson to intervene. Johnson can do it. Remember Mehdi Kazemi? The young gay Iranian who Jacqui Smith insisted could be safely sent back despite all the evidence including the execution of Mehdi’s teenage boyfriend? Well, she intervened and Mehdi is now safe. But it took an enormous effort to make that happen so – please – don’t just read this and be angry. Write your MP, write Johnson and the Prime Minister. Tell everyone you know what’s going on and ask them to do something as well.

09 April 2010 –

Indian professor ‘commits suicide’ after students launch gay sex sting

A homosexual college professor apparently committed suicide after he was filmed having sex with a rickshaw puller in a sting operation involving students from an Indian Muslim university and a local television channel.

by Dean Nelson in New Delhi
Srinivas Ramchander Siras, professor of modern languages at Aligarh Muslim University, was suspended from his job "on moral grounds" and evicted from his college accommodation after students broke in and filmed him with his partner. He was expected to return to his job later this month after the Allahabad High Court revoked his suspension and ordered him to be reinstated at a hearing last week.

Neighbours called the police to his single room home on Monday and complained of a bad smell. He was found dead inside and detectives believe he had taken his own life. Homosexual rights campaigners accused students at the college and the media of driving Professor Siras to his death. Prince Manvendra Singh, India’s first openly gay royal, said while homosexuality was no longer illegal in India, the battle against prejudice still had to be won "in people’s hearts and minds."

"I would rate this as a murder. These people need to be taken to task. What right did they have to attack his privacy? It was private, consensual sex and these students and television people got him to commit suicide," he said.

April 23, 2010 – PinkNews

First gay film festival begins in India

by Staff Writer,
India is celebrating its first gay film festival this week. The ‘Kashish’ Mumbai International Queer Film Festival 2010 began yesterday and will run over the weekend with more than 100 films from 25 countries. The festival is the first such mainstream event in the country, which only legalised gay sex last year.
It was launched by Bollywood star and gay rights advocate Celina Jaitley.

Organiser Vivek Raj Anand told AFP: "There have been gay film festivals before… but this is the first gay film festival in the mainstream." He added that he had not struggled to find partners to support the event. One of the films showing will be I Am, which focuses on male sex workers and homophobic police officers

In one scene, actors Rahul Bose and Arjun Mathur are seen embracing in a public place. They are seen by a police officer who begins to harass them. The film is set in the context of Section 377, the colonial-era law which banned gay sex. A star of the film, actor Rahul Bose said: "It would be inconceivable for the mainstream cinema chain to do something like this only because attitudes takes time to change."

The festival will close with a showing of Dunno Y . . . Na Jaane Kyu, which has been touted as India’s first mainstream gay love story and will be released in May. The films will be shown at multiplex chain PVR Cinemas and the Alliance Francaise cultural organisation.

23 April 2010 – Guardian

India’s answer to Brokeback Mountain ready to hit cinemas –
First Indian film to feature a gay kiss, Dunno Y … Na Jaane Kyun, likely to spark controversy

by Jason Burke in Delhi
The posters are ready, so is the film. The only question is whether the Indian public is too. Dunno Y … Na Jaane Kyun, a film featuring India’s first cinematic gay kiss, is scheduled to go on general release within weeks. Already dubbed India’s answer to Brokeback Mountain it tells the story of an aspiring model who travels to Mumbai, India’s commercial and film capital, to seek his fortune and enters into a homosexual relationship, in part to further his career.

Trailers of the film have been well received by activists. "It looks good," said Ashok Row Kavi, editor of Bombay Dost, India’s first gay magazine. It talks of the complexities [of being gay] in India. Taboos are still very strong and hopefully it will change things." For decades Bollywood avoided graphic depictions of even heterosexual kisses, with films famously cutting away to images of budding flowers, breaking waves or crashing waterfalls at the crucial moment.

Earlier this year a film called Love, Sex … and Dhokha (ditching) which included relatively graphic scenes of heterosexual sex was released. Though there was much media debate, the film generated little public outrage, encouraging those seeking to draw the largely formulaic Indian film industry in new directions. However the most explicit sequences in the film were cut or altered by censors.

"The sexual revolution has been under way in Bollywood for half a decade," said Anupama Chopra, film critic and author. "Kissing is now fairly acceptable for most of the younger stars. The younger directors are responding to an evolving audience." However homosexuality remains taboo. The nearest Bollywood has got to portraying same-sex relationships so far is the 2008 film Dostana – which showed two straight men pretending to be gay to persuade a landlady to allow her beautiful daughter to be their housemate. At the end of the film, as a punishment, they kiss.

"It was a comedy but did involve big names playing effeminate men on screen," Chopra said. Last week a gay film festival in Mumbai attracted big crowds. "From India alone there are 25 films … I thought not many queer films were made in India," the festival director, Sridhar Rangayan, told DNA newspaper. The committee was careful about their selection however.

"We don’t want to hurt the Indian sensibility. We had to discard 30 films for various reasons," Rangayan said. Gay activists fear Dunno Y will provoke a backlash from religious and political conservatives, many of whom opposed the recent effective repeal of colonial-era Indian laws that made homosexuality punishable by up to 10 years in prison as a crime "against nature". Promotional posters for Dunno Y … Na Jaane Kyun showing two semi-naked young men embracing did spark controversy last year.

The film’s director, Sanjay Sharma, told the BBC recently that Indian cinemagoers were "mature enough" to deal with the story line. "At the moment I’m not thinking about any political or censor problems," Sharma said. Sharma’s brother Kapil, who plays the lead, insisted that Indian audiences were ready to accept homosexuality on screen. Change however is slow. "We are still a very long way from seeing a mainstream major star play a gay role and that we won’t see that soon," Chopra said.

April 26, 2010 – ABC News

Indian film festival promotes gay rights

by India correspondent Anna Cunningham
Mumbai has wrapped up India’s largest gay film festival, seen as a step forward for gay rights in the country. It is the first time in India that more than 100 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual-themed films have got past censors to be shown in public cinemas alongside mainstream Bollywood and Hollywood releases. The films came from 25 countries including Australia, the United Kingdom, France and Israel.

For many attending the Kahish festival, including Indian playwright Mahesh Dattani, it is a step forward in recognition for the country’s gay community. "I think this is a hugely important event. We’ve never had a queer film festival," he told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia program. "I think there’s so many myths and misnomers about queerness, about sexuality in general, and I think this gives the audience an opportunity to try and understand and to actually see for themselves what queer love is and what queerness is about."

Mumbai is India’s most cosmopolitan and liberal city, but outside the financial and entertainment capital the country’s society remains largely conservative and attitudes are hard to change. Last year Delhi’s high court passed a ruling that the British-era law under section 377, making gay sex illegal, had become discriminatory. Artist Saurabh Masurkar says the ruling has brought gay issues into the limelight, something the festival is continuing.

"These kinds of film festivals are a slap in homophobic faces," he said. "If this wouldn’t really help them to accept it, at least it will leave them no choice to decline or deny it, because it will be spoken all around." The festival also highlighted the issues of transgender Indians, known as Hijaras, who are often seen by society as the lowest of the low.

24 May 2010 – Fridae

Fridae’s LGBT People to Watch 2010: Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil

by Fridae Features Team
The series presents 10 movers and shakers in Asia who are set to bring about positive change in their local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
This week we put the spotlight on gay and AIDS activist Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, the 39th direct descendant in the 651-year dynasty of Rajpipla and the first Indian royal to come out as gay; and Bhumika Shrestha, who at only 23 was officially sworn in as a member of the Nepali Congress making her the first representative of the transgender community in Nepal’s ruling political coalition.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but we are sure that this handful of extraordinary individuals will encourage and inspire you. If you know of anyone who you think is doing an amazing job for the greater good – whether they be activists or artists, entrepreneurs or entertainers, send us their details at.

In 2006 the 39th direct descendant in the 651-year dynasty of Rajpipla, a former princely state which now part of Gujarat in Western India, made headlines when his coming out story spread like wildfire across India’s and the world’s mediacape. The Prince’s story was a beacon of light to the Indian LGBT community yearning for positive role model. However universal acceptance was not won overnight. Despite his blueblood status, Gohil suffered a backlash. His parents publically disowned him and segments of traditional society burnt effigies of the Prince, demanding that he be stripped of his title.

Since then, time has healed many of the wounds. There has been some reconciliation in the royal household and the Prince – the only openly gay royal in the world – has earned the respect from various sectors of the community, a trend that was accelerated after he established the Lakshya Foundation which strives towards greater awareness and HIV/AIDS prevention among sexual minorities. Gohil won the UNAIDS Civil Society Award for his work and has been made the India regional representative for the Asia-Pacific Coalition of Male Sexual Health (APCOM). His extraordinary story brought him to The Oprah Winfrey Show and Gohil was also the subject of a BBC Reality TV show The Undercover Princes about finding love in Brighton’s gay bars.

In December 2009, Gohil went on an official fact-finding mission to Australia in hopes of gathering knowledge on best practise in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He also used this trip to raise awareness of fight against laws that criminalise homosexuality struck down in India and across the Asia-Pacific region.

Against the backdrop of slow, but significant progress in India’s campaign to repeal the anti-gay Section 377 of the Penal Code over the past 12 months, the advent of Bollywood’s first film to feature a gay kiss and the recent death of a prominent Indian University academic under “mysterious circumstances”, Gohil remains as an enlightening figurehead for the Indian pink community. And with plans for the opening of an old age home for gay men and lesbians as well as a biographical film about the 44-year-old Prince’s life due for release he is sure to continue to inspire and impress.

æ: Why do you do this work?

I think in country like ours the requirement to raise awareness about HIV-AIDS is very high. Given the total population, we still need more and more people to work on the same goals.

æ: How do you think you can make positive change happen in 2010?

I think constant talking to media and raising awareness about homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenders and the work I do with my foundation is what I can positively do the best.

æ: What is your message to people who stand in your way?

I don’t think people are standing in my way, I haven’t done anything personally against them. What they are against is the acceptance of sexual variety because they see it as morally reprehensible and corrosive to traditions and culture.

The only message I have to them is that ignorance will never help them come out of the irrationally hate they have filled their lives with about homosexuality. I don’t entirely blame them, I blame their ignorance.

Prince Mavendra Singh Gohil can be contacted via the Lakshya Foundation at

With contributions from Laurindo Garcia, Patty Tumang and Sylvia Tan.

June 2010 – The Queer Chromicle

‘The Queer Chronicle’ – monthly e-magazine

Pune, India – "‘The Queer Chronicle’ is a monthly e-magazine published for and by the queer community in Pune. The Queer Chronicle (TQC) is the first city-focused e-magazine in India. With exhibitions, interviews, restaurants, holiday destinations, parties, businesses, health issues, investment advice (all of course, from an LGBT point of view), TQC is an information packed capsule and is a ‘must-have’ for every queer Puneiite and for queer visitors to Pune. TQC is a non-commercial publication, is not for sale and is exclusively for private distribution."

Read this issue

26 Jun 2010 – Express Buzz

Creating their world under spotlights

by Dakshayani Kumaramangalam
For 28-year-old Bharatanatyam dancer and LGBT rights activist Aniruddhan Vasudevan, dance was not something he always associated with sexuality, although others always seemed to make such connections. It was more a therapeutic space for him because "people always sensed I was different." For a young, male Bharata­natyam dancer who was growing up, he also realises he was lucky he did well in academics. "If I had been a bad student, life would have been so much harder for me," he reco­unts. What if you are a young, homosexual male Bharatanatyam dancer who is bad at studies, he muses.

Vasudevan began learning the south Ind­ian classical dance form at the age of six in his hometown Kumbakonam in the Cauvery belt – and laughs about being blissfully unaware of the power dynamics and politics of the texts students performed to. "I never faced any homophobia in the dance community, but I removed myself from it," he says, preempting negative reactions from the community once he "came out". "I am certainly not a trad­itionalist," he asserts about his style of dance. The portrayal of gender and power dynamics in traditional texts are not something he can easily come to terms with although he still performs. "It is deeply religious and not entirely respectful of all its subjects," he says of the dance form. Ironically, the religious nature of some Bharatanatyam performance texts is something that dancer Taejha Susheel relatesto closely. The 24yearold began learning dance in class four when he took it up as an extracurricular subject. He finds it easy to be a gay dancer, saying that "most male dancers are gay." He laughingly says, "The rest are bisexual." But whether that is true or not, personally he finds "it helped, being a homosexual."He explains that most songs invoke or are devoted to male gods and do not mention the dancers’ gender, which makes it simpler for him. "I was taught the Bhakti tradition, so mostly I perform traditional Bharatanatyam." In fact the devotional nature of some of the pieces is what draws him closer to the texts. "I see the Lord Shiva as my husband when I am dancing. And I see myself as Shakthi. I do Bharatanatyam so I can connect with God, so why would I stop doing traditional pieces?" he shrugs.

Both dancers make references to the origin of the classical dance form and the history of Bharatanatyam. "It originated with Sadirattam," which Vasudevan goes on to explain was the court dance and also what devdasis performed in temples. "The dance form was reclaimed after that. It was purified, deeroticised, all its sexual tendencies were removed and it was made very secular, if you can call it that." This is another dispute he has with Bharatanatyam. Susheel also explains how Sadirattam moves were much more fluid and erotic than Bharatanatyam. Now male dancers have to move a certain way – "The Natya Shastra says how men should dance," he says.

But both men have never faced any discrimination or negativity from the dance community and in fact have received a lot of support from patrons and fans of the art. Neither of them puts up regular shows anymore, for different reasons. Susheel still practises and performs (he recently performed at Nirangal, an LGBT Performance Festival in Chennai) but he is busy doing his Masters in Polymer Technology. He casually expresses the average reaction of people not taking male dancers too seriously. "As a hobby, it’s okay, but as a profession? They definitely think it’s weird." One of his own parents echoes that sentiment, while the other is very supportive of his passion for dance. Luckily for him though, his guru Uma Maheshwari, is extremely encouraging. "My guru doesn’t even know I’m gay," he grins. "We have a mother-son type of relationship. I’m sure she senses it but we’ve never spoken of it."

In 2008, Vasudevan presented Alone Under the Lights, a typical Bharatanatyam solo repertoire for which he had "queered" some of the pieces, and his guru (Chitra Visweswaran) was very encouraging. But dance aside, he is busy with other things as well. "People are very supportive. They say they want to see more of me but I don’t have the time."

For the past three years, he has been visiting Washington DC for collaborative projects with a dance company called Dakshina, hea­ded by Daniel Phoenix Singh. While he is there he also involves himself in LGBT acti­vities. But his dance and his sexuality can sometimes be completely separate entities too. "Why should I be seen only in that context? I get tired of always talking about my sexuality. If you think about it, our sexuality is the most private part of ourselves. And I make it my most public part! It doesn’t always have to be this or that, but it’s not always connected either," he explains.

Taejha Susheel seems to echo that sentiment, though his perspective is different. "Dance comes from the soul, not the body. My sexuality has nothing to do with my dance. I can be anything I want to be when I am performing." He sticks with traditional pieces, though he veers away from them once in a way.

June 28, 2010 – Times of India

Numbers dwindle, but families, new faces make it to gay march

Chennai (Madras)
A man’s bright red belt and glossy red shoes, which flashed in stark contrast to his black outfit, held the attention of a bemused family as he passed their car. Though they did not see the multi-coloured flag and banners that his peers held up in a procession ahead of him, the family did get the pamphlets that were being handed out, calling for an end to discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

The second edition of the ‘Chennai Rainbow Pride March‘ — an event to celebrate alternative sexuality and gender identities — on Sunday saw fewer participants when compared to last year but activists said it was the people themselves who mattered. "We are seeing some families marching with us this year and a lot of new faces, so we are happy. Those who were here last year are playing a larger role and that is a good thing," said Aniruddhan Vasudevan, a Bharatanatyam artist and member of Shakti Center, a collective that aims to foster dialogue on gender and sexuality. "While transgenders have always been at the forefront of this movement, we have lesbian, gay and bisexual people attending the event as well. It takes a lot of courage for them to come out and make a statement," he said.

The march was the culmination of a series of events to mark ‘Pride Month’, including a meeting of parents of LGBT persons at the Centre for Counselling, a two-day LGBT performance festival called ‘Nirangal’ and the Ms Sahodaran beauty pageant. Vasudevan said it was important for more events like the Pride March to be organised for the general public to be aware of LGBT rights. Raghvendra Upadhyay, a freelance writer working with an AIDS prevention centre in Varanasi, who was at the march, said he saw fewer lesbian couples at the march in Chennai when compared to Delhi and Mumbai.

Kiran Mova, an IT professional from Bangalore who had come to Chennai to attend the event with his partner Elen, also endorsed this view. "There were more families at the Pride March in Bangalore as there are more organisations working for the LGBT community there. It seems like a more closed group here," Kiran said. As the evening grew cooler, the march wound up at Labour Statue by around 5.15pm with a joint proclamation by the community that the event was a celebration of their identity and the decriminalisation of section 377 by the Delhi High Court. Activists requested that transgenders be recorded in the 2011 national census in the gender of their choice and not be limited by the available binary choices of ‘male’ and ‘female’.

June 30, 2010 – PinkNews

India’s first online gay bookstore opens

by Staff Writer,
A lesbian has opened India’s first online gay bookstore. Queer Ink, run by Shobhna Kumar, is based in Malad and will sell around 200 titles ranging from novels and academic texts to children’s books. However, it will not sell erotica.

Ms Kumar, who works helping the city’s gay community, told the Hindustan Times: "I had a selfish reason for starting this, as I could not get access to these books. And Amazon would not deliver them. I think they wouldn’t get through customs as they offend Indian sensibilities. "There are a few Indian online bookstores, but they take weeks to deliver. I figured other people must be in the same position.”

She added: "The books are for homosexuals and anyone who is coming out, or wants to know more about these subjects. It’s about empowering and informing. Gay people want role models, to see their lives reflected in fiction. I think one would hesitate to pick up books like this in a normal retail space, which is why I did it online."

The website will also have a section to encourage people to submit their own writings. Its launch comes just before the anniversary of the High Court of Delhi’s landmark judgment decriminalising gay sex between consenting adults. In April, the country held its first mainstream gay film festival. The ‘Kashish’ Mumbai International Queer Film Festival 2010 showed more than 100 films from 25 countries, including Dunno Y . . . Na Jaane Kyu, which has been touted as India’s first mainstream gay love story.

July 1, 2010 – The Delhi Walla

City Life – Gay Delhi is Getting Straight

by Mayank Austen Soofi
One year after the landmark Delhi High Court verdict.

Time: Late evening. Place: Central Park, Connaught Place. Props: Trees, pathways, bushes and men — young and old, masculine and effeminate. Under unlit lamps, some are eyeing each other; some are starting conversations, and some are having sex behind the bushes, which is always quick. 9 pm is the park’s closing time.

This slice of Delhi’s gay life is almost history and not just because Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had taken over the Park to built Rajiv Chowk terminus. Exactly one year after the legalisation of gay sex by the Delhi High Court (click here to read that story), the social life of homosexuals in the city is more open, varied and as engaging, or dull, as that of straight people.

“When DMRC shut down the Central Park, there was no mass wailing,” says Anuj Bakaya, a doctor who was a regular to the Park. “We were too busy hooking up on man-to-man chat sites.” Those were the last days of cruising, the gay slang for walking about a locality in search of a sex partner.

For the next few years, though, the Sunday evenings in Nehru Park (the part facing the Ashoka Hotel) remained a popular meeting destination for the gay community. “Fashion designers, foreign diplomats and college students went there,” says Himanshu Dutta, a freelance writer. “But there was always this scare of being harassed by the park guards or the cops.” Section 377 of the Indian constitution, which criminalised homosexual sex, was feared as an easy tool for persecution. (It was this colonial-era law that was overturned by the court on July 2, 2009.)

By the turn of the century, Delhi’s gay nightlife had evolved beyond hurried gropings in gardens and Blueline buses. Gay bashes were being regularly held in Chhattarpur and Kapashera farmhouses. Pegs N Pints club in Chankayapuri was hosting Tuesday-night gay parties. A few more nightclubs also started ‘gay nights’ to grab their share of the pink money. “But it was all hush-hush,” says Mohnish Malhotra, a gay-rights activist who is also associated with Delhi Queer Pride Committee. “All that changed after the first pride parade in 2008 when thousands of gay and lesbian people marched into Jantar Mantar declaring to the city that yes, we exist.”

Though homosexuality remains a taboo in Delhi society, being gay in a certain upper layer is no longer a novelty. The premier cultural spaces such as India Habitat Center regularly hosts gay-themed film festivals and book readings. “We are becoming normal and boring,” says Arit Sen, a DU student who likes dressing up in drag queen costumes.

On July 2, 2010, 5.30 pm onwards, the first anniversary of the High Court verdict will be celebrated in the park above Palika Bazaar parking, which incidentally remains one of the last surviving gay cruising joints in the Capital. Programme schedule was finalised a week earlier on the terrace of the Indian Coffee House, the regular meeting site for the Queer Pride Committee. A rainbow of organisations will participate. ‘Saheli’ will sing songs. Delhi University’s ‘Queer Campus’ will do a talk session. ‘Mitr’ will perform a play. Some individuals will read poetries. One woman will dress up as actor Govindra and dance like him. The most emotional moment may be a reading of excerpts from the Delhi High Court judgment.

July 2, 2010 – The Times of India

Happy to be gay!

T-shirts with witty one-liners, an e-bookstore and a dedicated gay travel boutique – customised products have become increasingly popular among India’s gay community looking at new ways to assert its identity a year after the Delhi High Court decriminalised homosexuality. Sanjay Malhotra founded Indjapink, India’s first dedicated online gay travel boutique, nearly two years back and has catered to around 500 high-end foreign and Indian tourists. The Delhi-based firm organises special tours to holiday spots in Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Kerala among others and charges approximately $200 (over Rs.9,000) a day.

Asked if the July 2, 2009, Delhi High Court verdict had resulted in more customers for him, Malhotra replied in the affirmative. "Yes, definitely it has. The Indian queer community is free from discrimination and India is an inviting place now. The verdict has improved India’s image and we should use this tourism potential," the 40-year-old told us.

"The industry has a lot of potential to grow and, in a couple of years, business will grow big time. Look at Thailand and Indonesia, which have profited so much by catering to this market segment. And Indonesia, despite being a Muslim-dominated country, has specialised queer travel bookings options, so we thought it is the right time to start," Malhotra added.

Another entrepreneur like Malhotra is Simran, who started Azaad Bazaar, India’s first LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Transgender) Pride Store in Mumbai. Founded in February 2009, the response the outlet gets is great. "There was a gap in the market and we stepped in to fill that gap. If we would have not done this, then someone else would have," Simran told IANS from Mumbai. Her favourite T-shirt, which she says defines her personality, is with the tag-line "Haan Hoo! Toh?" (Yes I am! So?). But she describes her brand as "straight friendly". "The response to our store is fabulous and you will be surprised to know that 50 per cent customers we have are from the non-LGBT," Simran said

Azaad Bazaar in Bandra offers customised accessories, mugs and T-shirts with witty one liners like ‘Maa Ki Laadli’, ‘Jalebii High’ and ‘Pink Sheep of the Family’. Shaggy, a 24-year-old gay media professional, says that the availability of such merchandise in the market gives them a form of expression. "We are seeing a spurt of marketing and merchandising of products labelled and directed towards LGBT clients because today there is a ready market with young people who are dying to come out with their identities," he said.

Merchandise apart, the literature too is catching up. Social activist Shobhna S. Kumar is the brain behind Queer-INK, an e-store catering to the gay community that launched Friday, exactly a year after the verdict decriminalising homosexuality. "I got the idea for this after I personally experienced the lack of availability of books on queer issues in India. Even if they are there in a mainstream book store, queer people hesitate to buy it," said Kumar, director of

And a year on, more and more ‘pink parties’ are now celebrated openly at clubs and restaurants. "It has become more commercialised. Now there are many more restaurants and lounge bars that have opened up for the community to socialise," said Ranjit Monga, documentary filmmaker and media consultant. "These parties are a mixture of fun and networking. It will grow as there are so many young people around these days," he added.

5 July 2010 – Fridae

Gays celebrate one year of Delhi High Court judgment

by News Editor
The LGBT community in Delhi and Mumbai last Friday celebrated the first anniversary of Delhi High Court’s judgment decriminalising homosexuality. On July 2 last year, the Delhi High Court overturned the 150-year-old section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which penalised male-to-male sex with imprisonment up to 10 years or life. The celebrations in Delhi and Mumbai were well documented by the mainstream media.

The Hindustan Times described the scene in Delhi in "Gays celebrate one year of Delhi High Court judgment":
The participants of the one-year-celebration at Jantar Mantar seemed much more flamboyant and open, not only in their attire, but also behaviour. Many couples were openly kissing each other in front of around 50-60 policeman as well as numerous bystanders without any hesitation or fear.

The Times of India reports in "Pink India tiptoes out of the closet":
The change may be slow in coming, but it is undoubtedly on the way. In the last year,activists say there has been a spurt of gay activity in the open, not just in the overhang. Four-letter words like LGBT have become part of the public vocabulary. Middle-aged heteros can now say gay without breaking into a rash. But that was as far as public education went. A member of the LGBT community who did not want her identity revealed said the verdict had not really affected the personal journeys of people coming out. "What it has done is bring the subject home to the dinner table. And by that service, it is now easier for young gays to gauge the reactions of family and friends to the issue."

It has also taken away some of the stigma associated with being gay. "That it is now legal demolishes many of the arguments stacked against it," she says. "One of the upsides to the verdict is that we can no longer sweep homosexuality under the carpet saying it’s a western phenomenon," says Anjali Gopalan, executive director of Naz Foundation which brought the challenge to the gay sex law. "Still,the judgment didn’t automatically bring with it a change in social attitudes. For those to change, it’s important to engage society as a whole."

In "Happy to be gay!", the Times highlighted new businesses targeting gay clientele such as Indjapink, India’s first dedicated online gay travel boutique; Azaad Bazaar, India’s first LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Transgender) Pride Store in Mumbai; and Queer-INK, an e-bookstore catering to the gay community that launched last Friday. Mumbai, the glitzy and commercial capital of India, has meanwhile been dubbed the gay capital of the country. "Is Mumbai emerging as India’s gay capital?" asks NDTV highlighting the party scene, nightclubs, support groups and a magazine and by stacking the megacity up against Pune, Bangalore and New Delhi.

The Daily Mail says in "Mumbai emerges as India’s gay Capital":
In the last two months, there were more than 20 parties organised only in Mumbai. While Delhi hosted 15, 10 were held in Bangalore and there weren’t any in Pune… While Mumbai has nearly half a dozen active gay support groups, it’s not so in Delhi, Bangalore and Pune. If here the city has a magazine for gays, Bombay Dost, then Pune has two PUCK and The Queer Chronicle. Prominent journalist and activist Vikram Doctor noted in his column "How things are finally changing for gays in the workplace" for The Economic Times that while the law has changed coming out in the workplace is still a challenging process for many:

It could be due to personal constraints, or perhaps it’s the knowledge of the unthinking homophobia of fellow employees, but many can’t bring themselves to take that last step and come out. Which is in itself a problem because, while offices vary in their levels of informality, most would probably qualify as semi-personal spaces, where a certain level of personal is expected from co-workers, and those who can’t open up are seen as a bit odd. Lesbian and gay employees then find themselves in a fix. They know that ideally, for both personal and professional reasons, they should be open and at ease about who they are — and yet they have good reasons to fear the consequences if they are open.

He also notes that an increasing number of multinationals have such policies as part of global equal employment mandates, even Indian multinationals like Infosys and Tata have written policies guaranteeing equal treatment or prevention of harassment on a number of grounds, including sexual orientation or sexuality as they realise the need and benefits of matching global standards.

On June 27, about 300 marched in the second edition of the ‘Chennai Rainbow Pride March’.

4 July 2008 – The Guardian

Transgenderism in India: ‘People just use us for sex’

In India, kothis are men who dress and live like women, who are not necessarily homosexual but often take partners who conform to a typically masculine gender role. Edged out by society they meet in the city’s dangerous ‘cruising areas’, where they are targeted by criminals and police alike; in a culture that outlaws same-sex practices they are easy prey for blackmailers who threaten to expose them as homosexuals. Mintu says that he is fed up with seeing his friends come to harm Since childhood I have been putting on make-up and wearing saris. I used to play with dolls and I dressed up in drag. I didn’t know what kothis were. I thought I was the only person who was like this.

I was sexually abused several times from the age of seven. I thought I had done something wrong and that it was a sort of punishment from God. So I stayed quiet, thinking I had to suffer all things. The first incidence of sexual abuse happened in summer. It was by my mother’s servant, who was 16. I was already dressing in girls’ clothes by that point and playing with my dolls. He said: "I will make you into my doll." After that we played marriage. He said: "Now we play a real game. You have to sleep with me." He abused me, but as far as I knew I was just acting like a girl. I didn’t know what sex was. There were three more sexual abuses in my childhood since then.

When I was around 10 years old people started to harass me. My neighbours and school friends would talk to me in a vulgar manner, saying: "You are girlish, you are not normal, your penis will not get an erection." At that time I tried to commit suicide. There was no one to talk to. I was having very bad experiences at school as well. The teachers laughed at me. They would look at my studies and if there was something wrong in my work they would beat me. Eventually they threw me out of the class. The whole school was looking at me, saying: "He is a kothi. He behaves like a girl." Once, my friends tried to rape me. We were on holiday from school that day. They said: "Let’s have sex with him," and they tried to rape me in front of a crowd of people. Everybody was laughing.

A lot of kothis meet each other in the city’s cruising areas. Cops and criminals are there as well. Thieves will snatch any personal belongings – watches, clothes, money, mobile phones. They take everything you have. A kothi once told me that he was in a cruising area one day when a man came up to him and asked him to have sex. He said that he didn’t want to have sex, but the man offered him two rupees. Because the kothi didn’t have any money he agreed and took the two rupees. The man said that he wanted to have sex naked so they both took off their clothes, and it wasn’t until afterwards that the kothi realised that his garments had been stolen, and he had to walk home half-naked.

Another situation a kothi was telling me about happened in another cruising area. The police came up to him and beat him; they snatched his mobile phone, golden chain, address book and money. Then they told him that if he wanted his address book and phone he would have to give them 5000 rupees or they would have it published in the newspaper that he was a homosexual and was caught having sex. He went home to get the money and gave it to the cops. He was beaten and blackmailed for being a kothi. He did get back his phone and address book. Kothis tend not to take legal action against anyone because they are in same-sex relationships. [The Indian penal code criminalises homosexual practice.] If they go to the police they are asked: "Who was this person you were having contact with?" The cops will ask a lot of questions and will say: "It’s your fault since you are having anal sex." They have been known to beat kothis and sometimes strip them naked and parade them through the streets. Sometimes they put them in jail.

In India, men who have sex with men prefer not to go to the doctor because they get harassed. The doctors say: "You are a man and you are having anal sex – don’t you feel ashamed?" Many kothis think the pain will just go away; or they practise self-treatment, which can increase their problems. I have lost three friends to Aids. At first they were not admitted to hospital because they were kothis and were HIV-positive. Indian people think that if somebody has HIV he must have done something wrong. Doctors worry that the other patients will become infected by them. So my friends did not receive good healthcare. They were put in a room that was dirty and full of mosquitoes; their water supply was polluted and they were given garbage to eat. No one came in to change the bed sheets; none of the staff wanted to go near them.

Life is hard for us. I would like to be free, but I can never live freely. I would like to say to people that I have a boyfriend and show them who my boyfriend is. I would like to show them my identity. This is a part of my life and I want to show it. I want freedom for other kothis as well. Nobody takes care of them and nobody understands their feelings. Their families pressure them into false marriages because everybody thinks what they are doing is unnatural. Maybe after my death something will change. Maybe. But I believe that until the end of my life there will not be any freedom for us. People just use kothis for sex, or to make money out of us; they use us to pass the time. And one day we will die because of the pressure from our families and the rest of society.

• Mintu, whose name has been changed, was speaking to Isabell Zipfel.

July 2010 – ABC News

The Tale of an Indian Prince

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, who was disowned by his family in 2006 after coming out as gay to them. In 2000, Manavendra started and is chairman of the Lakshya Trust, a group dedicated to HIV/AIDS education and prevention. A registered public charitable trust, Lakshya is a community-based organization working for HIV/AIDS prevention among men who have sex with men (MSMs). It provides counseling services, clinics for treatment of sexually transmitted infections, libraries, and condom-use promotion. Lakshya won the Civil Society Award 2006 for its contribution in preventing HIV/AIDS among homosexual men. The trust also creates employment opportunities for gay men and support for other organisations for MSMs, and plans to open a hospice/old age home for gay men. Lakshya is a member of the India Network For Sexual Minorities (INFOSEM) and a founding member of the Sexual Health Action Network (SHAN).

2 August 2010 – GME

Iraq: The War Against Sexual Minorities Continues

by Dan Littauer, GME Editor, and Iraqi LGBT
Exclusive – You don’t even need to be gay or lesbian in Iraq to be in mortal danger from the Iraqi Police force. The latter have been mounting an aggressive campaign against anyone who is merely, by rumour, suspected to be gay or lesbian.

The Iraqi Lgbt network of activists inside Iraq have collected new and alarming reports of attacks on the LGBT communities during the month of July. Since June there have been consistent raids on Iraqi LGBT’s safe houses as well as harassment, abuse and assaults on gays, mostly by the Iraqi police. This trend seem to be intensifying now in frequency and brutality. It seems that Iraqi gays are systematically targeted and killed by the Iraqi police as well as suffering from increased homophobia, no doubt intensified by the authorities’ negative campaign.

On the 5th of July, in the city of Nasiriyah, south east of Baghdad, eye witnesses members of the Iraqi LGBT network, reported that three gay men were seized, beaten and taken handcuffed into a vehicle belonging to the Iraqi ministry of interior. The three gay men were deliberately targeted and forcibly removed from within a group of up to 9 other men. This is a clear and new proof that the Iraqi authorities continues it’s witch hunt campaign by identifying gay men on checking points when they have selected these three men who were not seen or heard from since their brutal arrest.

On the 8th of July in the city of Al Kut two men which were well known as gay in the community were surrounded and beaten up by a group of thugs for allegedly wearing trendy clothes. Eye-witnessed by a friend of the Iraqi LGBT network, the men were seriously wounded and their present condition is unknown.

On the 13th of July in Baghdad, police arrested two adolescent males during a stop and search procedure. The minors were seized when their mobile phones were found to contain nude pictures. During routine police operations mobile phones are regularly inspected for any potential material that endanger national security. The two youngsters, despite clearly being innocent, were taken by the police forces and never heard of since. Further evidence of the vicious campaign against Iraqi sexual minorities.

On the 22nd of July in the city of Al Najaf two men were beaten up and arrested in the city centre by the police. Police suspected they were gay due to their hairstyle, but after the authorities learned they were married and had children there were released.

On the 24th of July in the town of AL Zubair, near Basra, three bodies were found with their head severed and notes on their bodies saying there were murdered because they were gay.

Iraq remains the most dangerous place on the face of earth for sexual minorities where even a false accusation or rumours of being gay could lead to lethal and horrifying abuse. Iraqi Lgbt and are calling for the world interfere to stop this genocide , the Iraqi government is responsible in the first place for not protecting its citizen, not investigating any of these incidents, not bringing criminals to justice and for not condemning these crimes.

September 27, 2010 – PinkNews

Indian gay film faces censors as star’s family disowns him

by Staff Writer,
Dunno Y… Na Jaane Kyun, an Indian gay romance compared by critics to Brokeback Mountain, risks being censored by the Indian authorities over gay sex scenes. Meanwhile, the father of star Yuvraaj Parasher has told a newspaper that he is to fight in court to disown all ties to his son because of his role in the film.
The film, directed by Sanjay Sharma, faces censors because of two gay kisses and a gay sex scene between stars Kapil Sharma and Yuvraaj Parasher and features the two kissing and gay sex scenes. However, because of its homosexual content the film is facing censorship from the Indian film board. Kapil Sharma said: "Why should the censors be scandalised if two men are kissing and making love?

"The ones in my film are very aesthetic. And so what if it’s two men making love? Love is love regardless of gender." Meanwhile, the Bombay Times reports that that Yuvraaj Parasher, has been disowned by his family and thrown of of the family home in Agra because of his role in the film. His father Satish Parasher told the newspaper: "I feel what he has done is against the culture and tradition of our country and it challenges the purity of the relationship between a man and a woman. He kept us in the dark right from when he signed the film and told us that he is acting with a girl. When we heard about the poster and the things he has done in the film, we were shocked, hurt and humiliated. People will make fun of us and we won’t be able to live peacefully ever again."

He added that "his mother is totally devastated. We are a respected family and I’m appalled that he is playing a gay man’s role. We’re finished. All the dreams and hopes we had built around him are over. For just a film role, he has lost out on his blood ties. We don’t want to see his face ever… not even when we are dying." The family claim that no woman will consider marrying him after playing a gay man on-screen. Bollywood has rarely mentioned homosexuality in the past and even heterosexual kisses are still unusual.

But since the Indian capital Delhi legalised homosexuality last year, homosexuality is very slowly becoming more accepted in culture. A recent film, Dostana, showed two men pretending to be gay in order to win over a female love interest, but Dunno Y . . . Na Jaane Kyun is the first big release to tackle the issue of homosexuality seriously