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Dhoni is yummy! May 28, 2008

Posted by nitinkarani in English, Gay.
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… says Mumbai’s gay community in an online poll to choose the hottest IPL player and captain

‘Boy-next-door looks’
(The tag he’s got)

Hottest player

23 %
of the votes went to the Chennai Super Kings’ skipper and a whopping

46 % voted him the Hottest captain


Also rans:
Virat Kohli (Bangalore Royal Challengers) and believe it or not — Sachin Tendulkar (Mumbai Indians). Interestingly, not one gora player made the list

‘Classically handsome’
Yuvraj Singh
(Kings XI Punjab)
1st Runner up
Player: 12 %
Captain: 24 %
‘hunky Punjabi’
Manpreet Gony
(Chennai Super Kings)
2nd runner up
Player: 11 %
‘killer smile’
Irfan Pathan
(Kings XI Punjab)
3rd runner up
Player: 7 %
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No gay priests, please May 27, 2008

Posted by nitinkarani in English, Gay, Homophobia, Times of India.
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From the Mumbai Mirror:

Manoj R Nair

In July, the Anglican Church will hold its once-a-decade conference at Lambeth in England. The meeting that will be attended by hundreds of bishops will discuss issues affecting the church. But a large group of conservative bishops who do not agree with the meeting’s host, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams’s liberal views on homosexuality and gay priests will defy him and hold an ‘alternative Lambeth’ next month.The Indian counterparts of the Anglican church, the Church of North India (CNI) and the Church of South India (CSI) have a conservative stand on the issue. Years ago, when the issue was first debated, the Indian bishops had joined the traditionalists. However, at Lambeth, Indians will be among the 880 church leaders who will be present. The Indian church’s stand on the issue vis-à-vis the Lambeth conference is now non-committal. While the church has always said that it does not back the liberal views on homosexuality, it says that they have no plans to join the conservatives at their parallel meeting in Jerusalem.

About two years back, when a few churches in the West announced their plans to admit openly gay priests in their fold, their Mumbai counterparts had made their conservative views clear. Rev. Victor Gollapalli, the stewardship director of the Mumbai diocese of CNI says, “At that time, we wanted to put it on record that we do not agree with the stand taken by some western churches on the issue. We still value our social values.”

From Mumbai, Rev. Prakash Patole, the bishop of Mumbai, will be attending the Lambeth meet. Says Patole, “Most bishops of CNI and CSI will attend the meeting. I will go too. We are not concerned with the problem (homosexuality in the clergy).”

According to Rev. K I Dyvasirvadam, pastor of St Stephen’s Church, Bandra, the local church looks at the issue of gay priests as a western problem. “We have not given the subject much thought because it is still a superficial issue for us,” says Dyvasirvadam.

While the issue of admitting openly gay priests in the church has not led to a formal split in the church yet, many fear that with the conservative group having their own meeting, hopes of preventing a formal schism or split in the church is fading. The conservative bishops, most of them from Africa, will participate in what will be called the Global Anglican Future Conference 2008 in Jerusalem between June 15 and 22.

While the meeting has already been labelled as the ‘alternative Lambeth’, the organisers of the meeting have, however, said that their meeting is not a challenge to the July meeting or that it is just about gays in the church. Some of those who will attend the Jerusalem meeting are also expected to go to England in July.

The Indian counterparts of the Anglican Church, which was formed after Independence by the merger of several Protestant denominations, said that they have the liberty to take a stand on the issue. “Every diocese is an independent body and the Mumbai diocese has the power to decide its views on the subject,” says Gollapalli. “Personally and professionally, I will not accept homosexuality because the Bible does not sanction it. Even those who argue that the church should take a liberal view on the issue will not be able to prove that the Bible approves it.”

President of Indian Church Voice, Dr Abraham Mathai, is certain there is no scope for a gay and alternative lifestyle in the church. “It is not accepted in the Bible. Those who have a liberal point of view on the issue are in a minority,” he says.

The issue of acceptance of homosexuality by the church is debatable, feels Dyvasirvadam. “Some may say that it has no Biblical sanction. But on the other hand, others can argue that if we go by the Bible’s view that every person is an image of god, that standard means there should be no discrimination based on a person’s sexual preference.”

Homosexuals seek social networking sites’ support May 26, 2008

Posted by nitinkarani in English, Online/New Media, Section 377, Television.
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From Zee News:

New Delhi, May 25: Unable to come out in the open most of the times about their sexual orientation, thousands of homosexual youngsters are now turning to popular networking sites to get heard and evolve a social consensus for their rights.

Online social networking sites like Orkut, Facebook and Myspace are getting flooded with hundreds of communities advocating “natural rights” of gays and lesbians and inviting “like-minded people” to pour out their views and emotions with anonymity.

Forums like Indian Gay Liberation Movement, glad to be gay, anti-homophobia (India) and support gay rights are among hundreds others, which are actively discussing several problems being faced by the homosexuals.

The clamour for the gay rights has resurfaced after the Union Home Ministry had contended in the Delhi High Court that by treating homosexuality as a criminal offence, the government is protecting public health and morals.

“Indian society strongly disapproves of homosexuality and the disapproval is strong enough to justify it being treated as a criminal offence,” it has said.

The argument was made in response to a PIL demanding changes in section 377 of IPC which makes all types of unnatural sex a punishable offence.

The contention has triggered furious responses from the homosexuals and right activists, mainly through social networking websites and blogs, terming it as “arbitrary and illogical.”

Terming the government`s stand as “detrimental to the very spirit of the constitutional right of equality,” a gay right activist, Aditya Bandhopadhyay, said that government is keener in protecting a rule made by the Britishers nearly 150 years back while ignoring the fundamental right of equality.

“Internet has proved very helpful in creating awareness about homosexuality as a natural behaviour and in protecting the rights of those having a such sexual orientation.

Networking websites are helping in generating a national response to the problem,” added Bandhopadhyay, also a legal consultant.

Twenty one-year old Nipun from Indore, leading an Orkut forum Indian Gay Liberation Movement, says in his online profile, “Social networking sites and blogs have been a wonderful forum for me to reach out to a large number of people with my views in the issue of gay rights.”

His community on popular networking site put forward a three-pronged demand – replacement of section 377 of IPC, making discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation a criminal offence and approval for the gay marriages in the country.

However, in a respite to the community, the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO), which comes under ministry of health, has said that the law has to go because it impair controlling the HIV infection.

Highlighting the vulnerability of homosexuals to HIV infection, the NACO has said there were around 25 lakh male homosexuals and around eight percent of them were infected with HIV while in normal people it is only one per cent, an affidavit by NACO has said.

Bureau Report

Same sex activists come together in Chennai May 25, 2008

Posted by qmediawatch in Lesbian, Suicides, Times of India.
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Same Sex Activists come together in Chennai – Times of India

CHENNAI: It was an unusual get-together for Chennai. And more radical was the agenda that rolled out. A group of activists, including women who celebrate alternative sexuality, on Saturday decided to start a counselling-cum-support centre for lesbians in the state.

Besides setting up a hot line that will lend them a ear, the support group will work towards preventing tragic suicides like that of Christy and Rukmani, who set themselves ablaze in their home in the city on May 17 after they were prevented from living together.

“The decision to set up such a centre was born out of a need to reach out to lesbians here and prevent their isolation,” said A Ponni, a researcher in the Bangalore-based, Alternative Law Forum. “And the case of Christie and Rukmani is not the first in Tamil Nadu. There have been a number of such cases here, and of women wanting to run away and get married,” she said.

According to a letter drafted by several Delhi-based activist groups, which would be circulated among progressive and like-minded people across Tamil Nadu, eight lesbian suicides have taken place in the state from the beginning of 2008 alone. In Kerala, in the past 10 years, more than 35 lesbian couples are said to have killed themselves.

Amidst growing concern for Tamil Nadu’s lesbians, activists came together in Chennai for the first time to protest against Sec 377 of the Indian Penal Code (carnal intercourse against the order of nature), besides chalking out plans to set up a centre that will counsel lesbians and fight their cause. The section is widely used by the police to book homosexuals.

Activist lawyer, Sudha Ramalingam, who spoke at the meeting, pointed out that criminal law came under the concurrent list. “Tamil Nadu, the land of Periyar and self-respect movement, could be prodded to demand for repealing this regressive law,” she said, adding that she would be part of an advocacy group to fight against Sec 377.

Meanwhile, the letter by ‘Voices against Sec 377’ and other NGOs, pointed out that “repression of same-sex desire is not just a case of imposing one kind of desire and lifestyle on everyone, but is one that often paves the path to a question of life or death.”

The groups urged the state government “to acknowledge the reality of this repression and provide the space for every human being to uphold their right to live and love with freedom…”

Govt divided over law governing gays May 24, 2008

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Agency reports on the Secion 377 case hearing in Delhi HC (22 May) May 24, 2008

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From PTI: Decriminalisation of homosexual acts: HC seeks help from AG

New Delhi, May 22 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today sought assistance from the Attorney General in a case related to decriminalisation of homosexual acts among consenting adults.
As an important question of law is involved in the case, we would like the assistance of Attorney General which could be represented by a law officer, a Bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and J R Midha said.

Section 377 of Indian Penal Code provides a punishment of up to life imprisonment for indulging in homosexual acts.

The Bench’s move to seek A-G’s help come in the backdrop of contradictory stands taken by two different ministries.

Justice Sikri and Justice Midha said there was nothing wrong in the contradictory stand taken by two different ministries — Ministry of Home Affairs and Health ministry — on enforcement of Section 377 as the matter would be ultimately decided by the court.

“It is not a dispute between the two ministries, it is merely a matter of contradictory stand taken by them. Would it solve the problem if one ministry concedes to the opinion of the other…The Court would still have to decide the issue,” the Bench said.

The court was hearing a petition filed by NGO Naz Foundation seeking its direction to declare Section 377 of IPC as “unconstitutional” as it violated a citizen’s fundamental right and promoted illegal sex.

“Section 377 demeans a gay man. It silences a gay man into accepting the discrimination against him. He will not come out to declare his orientation”, the NGO contended.

“It can be criticised on the basis of moral ground but it is illegal to make homosexual acts between consenting adults an offence,” advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the NGO contended. PTI

——————————————————————-

The Delhi High Court today asked Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra to appear before it on June 2 over a law which makes homosexuality illegal in the country and can penalise a person.

A division bench of Justices A K Sikri and J R Midha asked the Government counsel to make clear its stand on June 2.

The affidavit filed by NACO, a division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, was against enforcement of Section 377 of the IPC entailing punishment up to life imprisonment for indulging in unnatural sex.

However, the government is divided on the issue. The Home Ministry has told the court that by treating homosexuality as a criminal offence, the government is protecting public health and morals.

But, the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) says that the law has to go for sake of battle against AIDS.

The Indian Penal Code, as we know it today, was formulated by the British way back in 1860. It was then that Section 377 was also introduced. Ironically, the UK government repealed this law in 1967.

The content in the affidavit made the court to remark that homosexuality was not a health hazard. The judges said, “But it seems to be affecting the Home Ministry. So, how come the government is taking such a contradictory stand? If they cannot decide, then we will”.

UNI

(Mumbai) City treads gently on Rainbow Road May 24, 2008

Posted by nitinkarani in English, Gay & Lesbian, Section 377.
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http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1166003

Shikha Shah
Friday, May 23, 2008 03:07 IST

For the general public, sexuality is a can of worms best left unopened.

For a long time now, Mumbai has been touted as an open and progressive city. But the reality is a different story — one that is starkly narrow-minded and conservative in its outlook. And no one knows this better than the city’s gay community.

Class and status come into play over here. “It generally depends on the economic status of an individual. These days, gays are accepted in high-profile societies. It is possible for them to lead a double life. Some gays are quite open about their sexuality. But Mumbai is still as ignorant as other cities in the country when it comes to issues like homosexuality,” said Nitin Karani, Trustee of Humsafar Trust, a gay and transgender sexual health, NGO.

Members of the community feel that as Mumbai, being a cosmopolitan city, should lend a patient ear to their views and not discriminate them on the basis of sexuality. “Many filmmakers have made movies based on homosexuality, but they are yet to highlight important issues. They sometimes tend to show our negative qualities, and this affects the outlook of the general public,” says Ganesh Jadhav. “If a lady is raped, timely action will surely be taken against the offender. But if gays are mistreated, who is bothered about it? If two individuals are mature enough, why can’t they be allowed to lead their lives as they wish?” he asks.

While families are willing to discuss homosexuality, they’re usually not so open when a son or daughter comes out of the closet. Mumbai, however, is still the most hospitable among all the metro cities in India.

“Mumbai is quite safe and comfortable for homosexuals, even though the general public is homophobic. But to be fair, I have never felt singled out because of my sexuality,” says Geeta Kumana. “But sometimes I do have to face weird situations. In my earlier job, when my boss realised that I was a homosexual, I felt a change in his behaviour. He started criticising my work without a valid reason; I was finally forced to quit,” she says. But she takes such incidents in her stride.

The question that’s doing the rounds these days is how can loving someone be a criminal act. “I strongly feel that Section 377 of Indian Penal Code should be challenged for criminalising homosexuality. How can the government afford to give a confused response to such issues? Mumbaikars still need to be broadminded when it comes to accepting gays and lesbians,” says Vikram from Gay Bombay. And there is a need, there say, for the government to step in.

Section 377 hearing in Delhi High Court: May 19 & 22, 2008 May 24, 2008

Posted by nitinkarani in Gay, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Online/New Media, Section 377.
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From Fridae.com
May 21, 2008
Delhi High Court begins hearings on India’s sodomy law
By Mayur Suresh
 
Fridae’s special New Delhi correspondent for the case, Mayur Suresh, was in court to report on the final oral arguments on Monday, May 19.
 
 
On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court will begin final arguments in the constitutional challenge to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which criminalises ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’. Filed in 2001 by the Naz Foundation, a NGO working on HIV/AIDS and sexual health issues, the petition points to that the provision criminalises private sexual acts between consenting adult men. Naz Foundation is broadly arguing that this provision is hampering efforts at HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment since it drives gay men underground, and that it violates the constitutionally protected rights of equality and privacy.

articlepic
 

The petition has attracted its fair share of attention. In 2003, an association of AIDS-denialists, The Joint Action Council, Kannur, made them selves parties to the case and in their written submissions argued that there is no evidence that HIV/AIDS exists and that it is spread through sexual activity. Soon after, Mr. B.P. Singhal, a member of Parliament from the far-right Bharatiya Janata Party entered the fray and in his written petition before the Court argued that homosexuality was unnatural and against Indian culture.

In October 2007, a coalition of human rights, LGBT rights, women’s rights and child rights organisations, known collectively as ‘Voices Against 377’ became a party to the case. They argued that Section 377, while rarely used in actual prosecutions, is used to target lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, and that sexual minorities face discrimination, harassment, blackmail, violence, rape and even murder as a result of this law.

Oral Hearings
Seven years after it was filed, final oral arguments began on Monday, May 19 before Justices Sikri and Midha of the Delhi High Court.

The proceedings began on an amusing note with the federal Home Ministry upholding the law and the federal Health and Family Welfare Ministry all but supporting Naz Foundation against Section 377. The Home Ministry, in its affidavit, says the law is right as Indians largely disapprove of homosexuality and that the law should continue as a deterrent for such kind of “immoral” acts.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare however, in its affidavit, says it is against enforcement of Section 377 as it pushes homosexual men underground, hampering efforts to control the spread of HIV/AIDS among this high risk population.

Monica Garg, the lawyer for the federal government, told an amused Court that she would argue the brief of the Home Ministry but also draw from arguments made by the Health and Family Welfare Ministry.

Anand Grover, lawyer for the Naz Foundation, introduced the case to Justices Sikri and Midha. Before a packed courtroom, he set out the structure of his case and said that the Naz Foundation challenges the constitutional validity of Section 377, on the grounds that it violated certain fundamental rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, namely Articles 14 (equality), 15 (non-discrimination), 19 (freedom of speech and expression) and 21 (life and liberty).

The anti-sodomy law presently on the statute books in India, was taken by the British to all its colonies. Mr Grover pointed out however, that not only has the law been repealed or struck down in many of its former colonial possessions, like Canada, Australia and more recently Fiji and Hong Kong, but was also repealed by the United Kingdom, the birth place of the law, more than 40 years ago. He began his arguments by drawing upon the history of the section 377 and traced it back to biblical injunctions against buggery, and which found expression in British law as the ‘vice to horrible to be named.’

The apparent disgust with even naming or describing sodomy, is similarly expressed by Lord Macaulay, who drafted the provisions of the Indian Penal Code in the middle of the nineteenth century. He said that the provisions “relate to offences respecting which it is desirable that as little as possible be said… we are unwilling to insert either in the text or in the notes anything which could give rise to public discussion on this revolting subject, as we are decidedly of the opinion that the injury which could be done to the morals of the community by such discussion would more than compensate for any benefits which might be derived from legislative measures framed with greatest precision.”

Mr Grover, stated that it is this refusal to define the offence clearly is what rendered the provision unconstitutional. The offence criminalises ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ and he argued that it is not clear, on the face of it, of what this means. He argued that the section 377’s vagueness runs counter to any basic principle of modern criminal and constititonal law that a penal law must be clear and precise and everyone should know exactly what the law penalises. In its 148-year history, there have been a few reported cases and even in those cases there has been considerable debate on what sexual acts the section covered.

He further argued that the law was unconstitutional because it did not take into account elements of consent. He said that the law was problematic particularly because it criminalised homosexual acts between adults even where the people involved consented to these acts.

He then referred to the Wolfenden Committee report of the United Kingdom, which recommended the repeal of the British sodomy laws. Relying upon the point in that report that the enforcement of morals on acts committed in private was not the domain and proper function of criminal law, he stated that the very same question now presented itself before the Delhi High.

Mr Grover is expected to continue his oral arguments till early next week. With Court holidays starting at the end of June for a month, a decision is not expected within the immediate future. The Court adjourned the matter and set the next date of hearing on May 21.

Mayur Suresh is a lawyer in New Delhi. He will continue to report on the case.

From Fridae.com

May 23, 2008

Section 377 hearing in Delhi High Court: May 22, 2008
By Mayur Suresh
 
Fridae’s special New Delhi correspondent for the case, Mayur Suresh, reports on the proceedings of May 22.
 
 

Delhi High Court – Proceedings on May 22, 08
(The Bench did not sit on May 21 as originally scheduled.)
Naz Foundation (India) Trust v. Government of NCT, Delhi and OthersAnand Grover appeared for Naz Foundation while the respondents were represented by Monica Garg (Union of India), Ravi Shankar Kumar (JACK), H.P Sharma (Mr B.P Singhal) and Vrinda Grover (Voices against 377).

 
 

Mr Anand Grover, counsel for the Naz Foundation, continued his arguments in the case challenging the constitutionality of India’s anti-sodomy law, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Relying primarily upon the United Kingdom’s Wolfenden Committee Report of 1957 which recommended the repeal of the buggery and sodomy laws in the United Kingdom, Mr Anand sought to make three main points in today’s arguments.

He argued that Section 377 was so wide that it covered even consensual sexual acts committed by adult men in the privacy of their homes and said that the State needed to show an overriding interest that would justify such a severe intrusion into the privacy of homosexual men.

Mr Grover argued that, contrary to claims made by the Federal Home Ministry, morality is not an overriding concern that would justify the limitations on the right to privacy. He argued “While people may be shocked, disgusted or offended, this is not sufficient a reason to intrude into the bedrooms of homosexual men.” He further stated that the High Court has to decide whether the deemed immorality of certain acts was a sufficient reason to make them criminal.

He brought it to the Court’s notice that a number of Asian countries, which have similar cultural mores as India, either never had criminalised homosexual sex, or have recently moved to decriminalise it and pointed to the laws of Nepal, Fiji, China, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and Iraq.

Referring to the arguments that the opponents of the petition made, that homosexuality leads to the break up of the family and that laws against homosexuality would prevent homosexual men from seeking liasons elsewhere, he stated that often gay men are forced into marriage in order to conform with dominant heterosexual mores in the country. He further argued that the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code has never and will never prevent gay men, married or otherwise from having sex with other men and only further serves to deepen discrimination and prejudice against gay men.

He said that the Naz Foundation, the party challenging the anti-sodomy law, was only asking for consensual acts to be decriminalised. Thus Section 377 would still be applicable in cases where the sexual acts were non-consensual, and done under coercion or force.

Rubbishing the argument that the striking down of Section 377 would lead to increased paedophilia, he argued that Naz Foundation was only asking for the decriminalising of consensual acts between those parties who could give valid consent and minors clearly could not. As Justice Sikri put it “Just as minor girls cannot give consent to sexual acts under section 375 (the provision on rape), the same thing will apply here” (sic).

He also stated that a number of Government bodies had recommended the repeal of Section 377. In particular he pointed to the 172nd Report of the Law Commission of India which stated that Section 377 should be repealed and a new section be included to specifically deal with child sexual abuse. He stated that the complications with Section 377 arise from the fact that while it is used to target homosexual men, it is the only law available to counter child sexual abuse. And hence, following the lines of the Law Commission, the Naz Foundation was only asking for the Court to interpret Section 377 to exclude consensual acts between adults.

At which point, Mr Sharma, counsel for Mr B.P. Singhal, an intervenor in this case, stated that consent could never validate a crime and he referred to the United Kingdom House of Lords decision in R. v. Brown which upheld the assault conviction of men who were caught in the performance of sadomasochistic practices.

Mr Sharma further pointed out that this case was merely an academic exercise since there was no arrest, prosecution or conviction under Section 377 and hence the petitioners had no immediate reason to challenge the sodomy law. Ms Monica Garg, counsel for the federal Government then clarified that the Home Ministry’s affidavit stated that Section 377 has not used against any persons.

Ms Vrinda Grover, counsel for Voices against 377, interjected that her client has filed affidavits to show that while arrests are rarely made that homosexual men, transgendered persons were illegally detained on a regular basis. She further stated that the police rarely register any arrests since they are merely out to make quick money off LGBT people who are easy prey because of Section 377.

Justice Midha inquired about the number of instances when the Section 377 has been applied by the prosecution. Mr Anand Grover clarified that there were 48 judgments from High Courts (appeals from orders of lower Courts) but reiterated Ms Vrinda Grover’s point that Section 377 is used arbitrarily and arrests are rarely registered.

Counsel for the Joint Action Council Kannur, an opponent to the petition in this case, again pointed out to the fact that it is not tenable for two ministries the federal government to have two contradictory positions with regard to the same matter. The Court in response, requested that the Attorney-General be present at the next date of hearing to clarify the matter and to present the views of the federal government at the next date of hearing.

Given that the Court holidays begin next week, the Court posted the next date for hearing on July 2, 2008.

Reports in the Indian media about the case
Meanwhile in India’s most populated city Mumbai, LGBT activists were making their voices heard. The Mumbai edition of the Hindustan Times on May 20 reported that “Gay rights activists quietly but confidently made themselves heard on Monday. Nine of them boarded several local trains and stopped at almost every station on the Central and Western Lines, holding placards which read ‘We are against 377’ and ‘It’s better to love than hate’. While in the southern city of Chennai (formerly Madras) local LGBT activists organised a condolence meeting for Christy Jayanthi Malar and Rukmani, two married women who were in a relationship with each other. They were being forced apart by their families, and rather than being separated they committed set themselves ablaze. They passed away on May 18, 2008.

An editorial in the Indian Express on May 21, 2008, commented: “It is indeed unacceptable that in 21st-century India we still have a law which denies ‘the right to love’ to a section of the Indian population. If the constitutional promise of equality is to have any meaning at all, then homosexuals too, like heterosexual married couples, should have the freedom to engage in intimate sexual acts without being subjected to state harassment… The question is whether India will live out the meaning of its creed as the world’s largest democracy or will keep company with fundamentalist and tyrannical regimes, to be seen in certain parts of the globe, by continuing to retain the archaic Sec 377 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code).”

Livemint: It might be illegal and disputed but Bangalore embraces its May 24, 2008

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Live Mint Article

Bangalore: Every Sunday, half a dozen gay men run in the city’s Cubbon Park. Later, more join in as the group meets for idlis, vadas and coffee at the old-world Airlines Hotel. They call themselves the Gay Running and Breakfast (GRAB) club—though for many it is really “grab minus the running”, quips co-founder Arvind Narrain.
Thursdays, meanwhile, bring together a group of information technology (IT) professionals, lawyers, doctors, artists and others under the umbrella, Good As You (yes, that stands for GAY). They put out newsletters and offer a social platform for gays to interact and share experiences.
 Among the city’s growing expatriate population, there is a lesbian club. Private gay parties are common at pubs and restaurants across the city, where same-sex couples can freely kiss and hold hands.
In mid-July, the Indian franchise of London-based TimeOut magazine plans to launch in Bangalore and include a section with gay- and lesbian-specific content and listings, as it has done in Mumbai and New Delhi.
All this is playing out here even as India debates its attitudes—and laws—towards homosexuality. Earlier this week, the Delhi high court directed the Union government to figure out its stance on homosexuality; the ministry of home affairs favours prosecution (homosexuality is punishable under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code), while the health ministry is against enforcing this law for issues related to health monitoring.
But, cities such as Bangalore are showing no such quandary: Over the last few years, a gay scene has emerged and entered the mainstream here.
“I was astonished at the gay scene in Bangalore,” says Naresh Fernandes, editor-in-chief of TimeOut, which also provides weekly event listings for Mint. “My activist friends tell me there is a level of openness hitherto never seen in any city in the subcontinent. Going by anecdotal evidence, Bangalore may very well be the gay capital of India.”

 

A younger and more cosmopolitan workforce—often away from family and relatives who might recognize them—has been the main catalyst. Institutionally, the movement has gained recognition from multinational companies. Spurred by home office policies, companies such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and International Business Machines Corp. have non-discriminatory policies

 

Pinknews: Tragic end for lesbian couple tormented by family pressure May 24, 2008

Posted by qmediawatch in Lesbian, Police Responses, Suicides.
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Tragic end for lesbian couple tormented by family pressure
By Adam Lake • May 22, 2008 – 11:26

A lesbian couple who committed suicide by setting themselves on fire have been put to rest in a joint cremation this week. Christy Jayanthi Malar [38] and Rukmani [40] set themselves ablaze after their families took objection to their “unnatural relationship.”

It has been reported that the two women had suffered years of torment from their families who objected to the closeness of the couple. Although being in a relationship since their school days the women both had husbands.

This is common in India where there huge social and legal pressures to live a heterosexual lifestyle. The alarm was raised when smoke was seen coming from Mrs Malar’s home. When neighbours went in they found the bodies of the two women held in an embrace.

It is thought that the women committed suicide after an argument that Rukmani had with her relatives. Police told reporters that the two doused themselves in kerosene before setting themselves alight. In an ironic twist, the families who tried to separate them agreed for the bodies to be laid to rest in a joint cremation.

A senior police told The Times of India newspaper:

“We can’t say the relatives pushed the women into suicide. “They might have verbally abused them, but that was to bring them back to normal life.”

Homosexual relations are legally still a crime in India under an old British era statute dating from 1860 called Section 377, though the government no longer seeks to prosecute adults engaging in private consensual homosexual acts.

In recent years, the campaign to decriminalise homosexuality has strengthened.

Time Out Delhi was launched last year with a homosexual section and listings featuring gay nights and social gatherings.