Image Source: Al Jazeera
Homosexuality is a taboo subject in India, specifically prevalent in orthodox communities. For years, homosexuals were forced to conceal their identity in fear of being victims of physical violence and imprisonment. This oppression forced members of the LGBTQ community to keep their sexuality a secret.
But the scenario changed when the Supreme Court dismissed a petition that sought review of the Suresh Kumar Koushal judgement. This judgement upheld the criminalization of homosexuality in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code makes same-sex intercourse punishable by law.
Despite the disappointing decision of the Supreme Court, this setting had a faint silver lining. With rising protests from the LGBTQ community, the citizens of India were exposed to their lack of rights and many stepped out to show their support. This judgement brought a positive change — one that appealed to progression and not regression. Many from the Indian society expressed their willingness to welcome the LGBTQ community as equal citizens with equal rights.
Now, the LGBTQ community in India is thriving, educating, and inspiring people across the country.
Apart from the social and cultural acceptance in Indian society, the LGBTQ community in India is also seeing rapid change in the dating scenario. Earlier, social interaction and dating meant facing harassment or blackmail at the hands of religious groups or police officials. Closeted members of the LGBTQ community found it difficult to find a date or seek partnership with someone without being targeted.
However, many websites in India now cater to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities. Many members of the community have registered, and actively communicate, interact and counsel each other with these sites as a medium.
Dating apps like Tinder, OkCupid, and Grindr give a platform for the LGBTQ community to meet people and date people without feeling unsafe or threatened. These apps open a door for the community where gay sex is a taboo, giving them a liberal space to meet and build relationships with like-minded people without facing judgement or criticism.
Grindr, a gay dating app, claims to have over 11,000 average active monthly users in India, making it one of the most popular apps for gay men in India. Some other widely used apps by the LGBTQ community include Planet Romeo and Gaydar.
The progress is slowly bridging the deep disconnect between liberal parts of Indian society and conservative norms that condemn homosexuality.
While these online portals allow the community to be more open about their sexuality, the societal views in India are still holding back many closeted members from revealing their identity.
According to the figures submitted by the government of India to the Supreme Court in 2012, there were 2.5 million gay people recorded in India. The ratio of the LGBTQ community actively involved in dating is lower compared to the openly gay people recorded in India.
This is the gap that needs to be bridged, not just virtually, but also in reality.
As the largest democracy in the world, India needs to discontinue the discrimination against the LGBTQ community and give them the freedom to live their lives peacefully, not in constant fear. We need to give them a space that doesn’t only exist in the virtual world; a space devoid of terror, rejection, discrimination, and prejudice.
Their sexuality is not holding them back; we are.