Suresh (name changed), 34, works with a multinational company in Delhi. A year ago, he came out in the open and told his parents about his sexual preference. But he is very particular about donning the “normal guy” image when he is at workplace or with relatives and friends.
He said the reason was obvious. “I don’t think if I tell them they would accept me. They have very strong views on homosexuality. And I don’t want to make things any more difficult for my parents at this old age,” he said.
There are many like him who are forced to live a double life fearing social discrimination. Gay rights activists say that changing this discriminatory attitude of the society towards people with alternate sexuality will be the biggest challenge, as and when, the Indian government decides to legalise sex between consenting men.
“I think that’s where we will need the support of the civil society. The gay rights movement is already taking small steps in this direction by holding gay parades and marches. But a lot more needs to be done,” said Vikram of Gay Bombay, a Mumbai-based gay rights group.
Vikram says a step in that direction was taken in the Capital recently when various gay rights groups joined hands and organised the first Queer Pride parade. “The response was much beyond what we expected. Over 500 gays, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and civil rights groups came out to participate in the march. There was hardly any violent reaction to the parade. Small steps like this will go a long way in changing people’s mindset,” he said.
The Delhi High Court is also hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking decriminalisation of homosexuality. Under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, men who have sex with men is a criminal offence, punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years.
Naz Foundation, a voluntary organisation supporting gay rights, has filed the PIL. They have sought scrapping of Section 377 from IPC.