Living on the Fringe

Published: May 2, 2012

Despite decriminalistion of homosexuality, Delhi hasn’t become a safe city and  crimes against gays keep happening. Dr. Himadri Roy writes about some cases that received wide media coverage
Ever since homosexuality was decriminalized in 2009 by Delhi High Court, there has been some confusion pertaining to whether the ruling applies to the whole country or is restricted to the national capital. As legal experts later pointed out, the verdict was applicable across the nation. Still, it was widely belived that Delhi is a safe city for the LGBT community because of this historical judgment decriminalizing consensual sex among adult gay men, which would be applicable without any confusion.
However, going by the various attacks on members of the LGBT community in the recent months that was covered in the print news media, the gruesome truth remains that despite the verdict, gay bashing continues in the city and police have done little to stop it. Gay bashing isn’t new to this city, it had been happening for a long time, since 80s when the Sikhs were attacked. But very few cases were registered as FIRs and the media coverage was controlled by the monopolization of the contemporary government.
In December 24, 2002, the dead body of Sagar Gupta, 26, a resident of Shahdara, was recovered from the dilapidated building at the crossing of Barakhamba Marg and Tolstoy Marg. It was found that the corpse was two days old. A suicide note was recovered from the site which mentioned about Sagar having an affair with another unnamed guy who dumped him because he was not highly educated for another well-qualified guy. The torture of losing his boy friend was not acceptable to Sagar. The suicide case was filed at Parliament Street Police Station, but shelved soon and till date no arrests were made.
Narendra Rawat, 24, was brutally murdered by chopping of his genitals and his headless body was recovered from an unused bus of the Sarai Kale Khan Bus Depot. It was found that he was sodomized. The murder case was registered, but this case has also never been solved for the media was unaware of these two incidents.
But Pushkin Chandra, 38, who was a retired IAS officer’s son, and his friend , Kuldeep, were murdered on August 13, 2004, at his residence in Anand Lok of South Delhi. It got a huge media coverage. Being a powerful person’s son, the cops took a note of it immediately and arrested four men Moti, 26, Rajesh Rekwar, 27, Munna, 24, and Jai Kishore, 26. Later, the Delhi High Court acquitted Munna and Jai Kishore for lack of proof, but both Moti and Rajesh were given life sentence, relying on the 38 witnesses, including Hare Ram, the domestic help at Chandra’s residence.
The same year Naz foundation filed a PIL at Delhi High Court against Section 377 for decriminalizing LGBT people from these forms of gay- bashing.
Media slowly picked this issue up in their everyday newspaper. News Magazines also covered them in details. Hindustan Times in their Sunday Magazine of 29 August, 2004, covered news on the topic of growing up as a gay man. Similarly India Today, in their issue published on September 20, 2004, carried out a sex survey throughout Indian males. It brought into notice of the public that around 19% of Indian men had homosexual experiences in their lives. But after two years, November 13, 2006 issue, the same magazine came out with revealing facts of single young men during their sex survey. There was a rise of 6% of homosexual practices amongst young Indian males, it rose from 31% to 37% within two years. In the same year, Outlook came out with another sex survey where men and women were focused at the same time. It brought out another fact in public domain that 20% of people living in cities had same sex experience in one year, and 23% of this average was in the Metro cities.

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