India, Asia

India is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country, and the largest democracy in the world. It has the world's twelfth largest economy at market exchange rates and the fourth largest in purchasing power. Economic reforms have transformed it into the second fastest growing large economy; however, it still suffers from high levels of poverty.

Homosexuality in India is generally considered a taboo subject by both Indian civil society and the government. Scholars differ in their views of the position of homosexuality within India's main religious traditions. There have been arguments that homosexuality was both prevalent and accepted in ancient Hindu society. Since 2001 a major legal challenge was mounted against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalised homosexuality. The Delhi High Court ruled in favor of decriminalisation on 2nd July 2009. This ruling had the effect of making homosexuality legal across India. However many religious and fundamentalist groups have challenged the judgement in the Supreme Court, and a final judgement from the Supreme Court is pending as of 2011.  Also see: Islam and Homosexuality

 

News & Reports:

 

The Inequality of India’s Queer Spaces

“Space is power, right? We don’t have a lot of it.” While the U.S. Supreme Court is still debating same-sex marriage, public opinion has already come down in its favor. For many, the striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act last year ushered in a new chapter in the history of the LGBTQ-rights movement.… Read more »

Blackmail and abuse: Gay sex ban in India stirs violence

New Delhi (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – When Rajan was followed by two men into a public toilet in Mumbai and forced to perform oral sex on them, the 31-year-old gay marketing professional realized this was the beginning of the end of his short-lived sexual freedom. “They knew I was gay. They were watching me and… Read more »

India votes against gay rights for UN employees

India supported a Russian-drafted resolution that opposed benefits for same-sex partners of UN staff, but the resolution failed to pass in the General Assembly committee. The move comes in the wake of a growing debate in the country about decriminalising gay sex. New Delhi, however, justified its move to vote in favour of the resolution… Read more »

Arrests for ‘unnatural sex’ soar. So do cases of gay people being blackmailed

Six hundred people were arrested for under section 377 in 2014. However, the government did not say how many of those arrests were for consensual sex. Weeks after the Ministry of Home Affairs released figures saying that nearly 600 people had been arrested in 2014 under Section 377 in 2014, India’s queer community is cautious… Read more »

Meet India’s first ever out transgender mayor

For the first time a transgender candidate has won a mayoral election in India. Madhu Kinnar, an independent candidate, won the election in the Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh Municipal Corporation by 4357 votes on 4 January. She beat the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Mahaveer Guruji, and was named the mayor of Raigarh. 35-year-old Kinnar previously worked as a… Read more »

600 homosexuals arrested in 2014

At least 750 cases were registered and 600 people arrested under Section 377 of Indian Penal Code in 2014 after Supreme Court struck down 2009 Delhi High Court verdict which decriminalised homosexuality. According to Home Ministry statistics, the country witnessed registration of 778 cases and 587 arrests under Section 377 until October. However, these numbers… Read more »

Gay rights activists rally in India’s capital to demand an end to discrimination against gays

New Delhi (AP) — In a story Nov. 30 about a gay rights parade in New Delhi, The Associated Press reported erroneously identified one of the participants, Rudrani Chettri, as a gay man. Chettri identifies herself as a transgender woman. A corrected version of the story is below: Indian gays, lesbians march for their rights… Read more »

Hundreds march in New Delhi for gay pride in Modi’s India

(Reuters) – Hundreds of people danced, sang and cheered in a gay pride parade in New Delhi on Sunday, the first since the country’s top court reinstated a ban on gay sex in the world’s largest democracy. Multi-coloured balloons, masquerade masks and wigs, a huge rainbow flag and a St. Bernard dog ushered in the… Read more »

Indian city of Baroda gears up for first pride march – despite gay sex being a crime there

City in Gujarat to hold trailblazing first gay celebration this weekend Baroda is to host its first ever gay pride celebration this weekend. It is the first event of its kind in the city (also known as Vadodara), and the third in the Indian State of Gujarat, after similar events in Surat and West Bengal… Read more »

167 transgender women detained, then released in India

NLS Queer Alliance reported that some 167 members of the transgender community have been detained in two days in Karnataka state in South West India. The community quickly responded and organised a protest in response yesterday, November 26, at the Town Hall, against the illegality of police action against transgender persons. Perhaps it is no… Read more »

Taking Discrimination to Court in India

The TREAT Asia Report Interview: Anand Grover Anand Grover served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health from 2008 until July 2014. He remains project direct of the Lawyer’s Collective HIV/AIDS Unit in New Delhi and has led… Read more »

India’s Gays, Lesbians ‘Suddenly Afraid’ After Court Ruling

Mumbai, India — When openly gay actor and model Sushant Divgikar marched into India’s answer to the Big Brother house last month, he was reaching for more than a few minutes in the limelight. “I can sensitize the people about my community by being the face of LGBT community in ‘Bigg Boss’,” the 24-year-old told… Read more »

Padmini Prakash becomes first transgender news anchor in India history

Her hiring comes come five months after India’s Supreme Court recognized transgender people as a legal third gender Transgender female Padmini Prakash has made history by being hired as a news anchor at Lotus News in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Prakash is the first openly trans anchor in India – ever. ‘I… Read more »

Bold new BJP? Debate gay rights in Parliament, add to manifesto, says Mumbai leader

Seeking a new, nuanced position on homosexuality among his party men, BJP Member of the Legislative Council and president of the Mumbai unit of the BJP Ashish Shelar has shocked many in his party by stating that he supports demands for protection of gay rights, though he is not really promoting gay sex. Given that… Read more »

Internet a boon for gay men to connect in small Indian towns

India: The internet is seen as a boon for gay men in small Indian towns to connect with like minded people as well as arrange meetings in safe locations in a country where same-sex relations are not only a socially taboo but illegal. “Gay men in small towns live a highly closeted life, with hardly… Read more »

Criminalizing gays by misusing anti-gay sex law not acceptable, says Mumbai chief of ruling party

The Mumbai chief of India’s ruling party, BJP, says his party is now against the misuse of section 377 and will raise the issue in Parliament ‘Criminalizing the gay community by misusing section 377 of the IPC [Indian Penal Code] is not acceptable to the [ruling] BJP,’ Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar told some 250 attendees… Read more »

Gays in UP towns avoid prying eyes, get hooked online

Bareilly: Once while walking through the deserted banks of the Rapti in Tulsipur, Balrampur district of Uttar Pradesh, 28-year-old Aman hugged his friend who had come visiting from Delhi. A local cop who had been following them recorded it on his mobile phone. The cop would go on to extort Rs 15,000 from the boys… Read more »

Fighting For Gay Rights in India

Ashok Row Kavi is an Indian journalist and one of the country’s most prominent gay rights activists. He was one of the first public figures to come out as gay in the 1980s, and he went on to found the Humsafar Trust, India’s first community-based organisation for men who have sex with men. Pedro Solis… Read more »

India: Fifth annual Kerala Pride takes place with LGBT rights protest

The fifth annual queer pride march took place in Kerala, this weekend, in the city of Kochi. The protest took place in Kochi for the first time, as it has previously taken place in the Thrissur District. A public meeting considering harassment and persecution of the LGBT people by authorities and others, took place following… Read more »

India: Census finds half a million trans people

The first census in India to contain a third gender option has found nearly half a million trans people. The data from the census, conducted last year, found 490,000 people identified themselves as ‘third gender’, which is used to refer to trans and intersex people – known culturally as Hijras. According to the data, around… Read more »

Indian Census counts transgender people for the first time, finds half a million

The first ever count of India’s transgender population has found nearly 500,000 who were prepared to say they were transgender in filling out census papers – though activists say the real number may be far higher 490,000 people listed themselves as ‘third gender’ or transgender in India’s most recent census – the first time the… Read more »

Indian election changes the battle over anti-LGBT law

In the eyes of many LGBT activists in India, the election victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party in this month’s elections was a setback for efforts to overturn the country’s anti-homosexuality law. At the least, their work becomes more complicated now. The complications may affect upcoming proceedings before the Supreme Court, which has agreed to… Read more »

A Gay Film Festival in India Strikes a Chord

Mumbai — Building for the Art Deco Liberty Cinema in south Mumbai began in 1947, the year India won Independence from the British. It remains a symbol of freedom. On Wednesday evening, in a bar upstairs, women in salwar kameez and men in kurtas mingled, mopping brows in the Mumbai humidity between air kisses. A… Read more »

India Supremes Grant Rehearing of Anti-Sodomy Ruling

Earlier this month, the India Supreme Court indicated an openness to a last-ditch request from LGBT advocates, who asked them to consider holding arguments in court against its earlier ruling recriminalizing homosexuality. Today, the court announced that it will grant that request. BuzzFeed’s J. Lester Feder reports: This is LGBTI rights advocates last chance to… Read more »

Indian Supreme Court legally recognises transgender people for the first time

India’s Supreme Court has issued a landmark verdict creating a new category that allows transgender people to identify themselves as such on official documents Before Tuesday’s judgment, transgender Indians had to identify themselves as male or female in all official papers. The Press Association reports that the court noted it was the right of every… Read more »

Activists file new legal challenge at Indian Supreme Court over gay sex ban

Campaigners in India have begun a new challenge against the Supreme Court’s decision to recriminalise homosexuality. The Naz Foundation, an HIV support group, yesterday filed a curative petition challenging last December’s verdict. It argues that the court made a “mistake” in its judgment and is guilty of a “gross miscarriage of justice”. On 11 December,… Read more »

Anti-Gay Law Costs India $31 Billion

Anti-gay legislation and homophobia costs India $31 billion annually, according to a new study from the World Bank. Between violence, job loss, discrimination, and tourism, the exclusion of the LGBT community ultimately translates into economic loss for the country in terms of higher health-care costs and social programs in addition to lower economic output. The… Read more »

India’s gay community scrambling after court decision recriminalises homosexuality

Back in 2009, Lesley Esteves was dancing in the streets after judges in Delhi decriminalised homosexuality. When the Delhi High Court suspended the draconian Section 377 of the Indian penal code which dated from the days of British rule, India’s lesbian,gay, bisexual and transgender community thought there was no turning back. Five years on the… Read more »

India’s gay community scrambling after court decision recriminalises homosexuality

Back in 2009, Lesley Esteves was dancing in the streets after judges in Delhi decriminalised homosexuality. When the Delhi High Court suspended the draconian Section 377 of the Indian penal code which dated from the days of British rule, India’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community thought there was no turning back. Five years on… Read more »

The Upside of India’s Renewed Ban on Gay Sex

A community that was in danger of becoming complacent is now galvanized to political action Last Tuesday, India’s Supreme Court reinstated a law that has turned me, along with millions of other Indians, into a sexual criminal. Four years ago, a lower-court decision struck down this same law, which bans “carnal acts against the order… Read more »

Record turnout for gay pride march in Mumbai

Some 5,000 people turned out for the first LGBT pride march in the country held after the Supreme Court in December reinstated a colonial-era law that criminalises gay sex It was a record turnout for Mumbai’s seventh gay pride parade where some 5,000 people marched from August Kranti Marg to Girgaum Chowpatty on Saturday afternoon,… Read more »

Gay Sex Is a Crime and Will Stay a Crime, Says India’s Top Judges

The Supreme Court rejects an appeal to overturn a ban India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected petitions from the government and gay rights activists to review an earlier decision that recriminalized gay sex in the country. In December last year, the court overturned a historic 2009 Delhi High Court judgment decriminalizing homosexuality. It said that… Read more »

Indian Supreme Court refuses to review decision to ban gay sex

India’s Supreme Court has refused to review its decision to reinstate a 153-year-old law that criminalises homosexuality. Justice HL Dattu and Justice Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya issued a brief order declaring, “The Review Petitions are dismissed.” The ruling is seen as a huge blow to LGBT rights and has been criticised by activists and government ministers. The… Read more »

Police Violence In India Drives A Gay Couple To The U.S. — And A Detention Cell

“We are feeling like homosexuality is a crime everywhere … there is not any protection here,” said one of the men.Their yearlong journey across more than 10 countries to seek asylum in the United States. Millions of gay Indians suddenly became criminals when the Indian Supreme Court restored the country’s sodomy law in December. But… Read more »

Will politcians change law on gay rights?

On January 3, 2014, it was reported that the United States ( U. S.) granted asylum to a gay couple, Jagdish Kumar and Sukwinder who fled India in June 2012 because of pressure on Jagdish to marry a girl. They did not try and sneak into the U. S. but surrendered to the U. S.… Read more »

Homophobia vs Homosocialism: The Fear of Being Perceived Gay

In India, in Italy, In China, in fact all around the world it is perfectly acceptable for men to hold hands in a show of affection. For a society that advertises itself as a paradigm of acceptance, and it is, men in Britain and the US are scared, nay petrified of bodily contact lest they… Read more »

Delhi High Court judge who legalized gay sex saddened by Supreme Court ruling

The Delhi High Court judge who legalized homosexuality in India in 2009 has spoken out against the Supreme Court ruling that overturned his decision, saying he feels deeply sad for India’s LGBTI community Former Delhi High Court judge AP Shah who legalized homosexuality in India in 2009 has spoken of his disappointment at the decision… Read more »

Religious leaders laud gay sex ban in India

Local Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Christian chiefs say the court prevents India from ‘going on to the path of destruction’ In a rare display of unity, six leaders of different religious hues in India have released a joint statement to commend the apex court’s decision to reaffirm the country’s colonial anti-sodomy law, and warn… Read more »

Gay writing in India – a first collection of queer poems by Shaleen Rakesh

At a time when queer rights are being debated vociferously in the media, Shaleen is set to release his first collection of queer poetry ‘The Lion and the Antler’ in January 2014. Shaleen lives with the memory of creation and destruction, as forces he has acutely experienced, and of having been spared. In his early… Read more »

Radio Station for Gay Indians Faces Uphill Battle to Draw Listeners

Bangalore – Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Indian law against homosexuality cannot be overturned except by Parliament, gay sex is illegal once again, making it that much harder for young gay, lesbian and transgender Indians to identify themselves as such. This makes the staff of Q Radio, the only Internet radio… Read more »