Homophobia- the horrific lives of the Indian Queer

Homophobia- the horrific lives of the Indian Queer

Last year on May 12, Anjana Hareesh, a student from Kerala was found hanging in a resort in Goa. The disturbing story behind how the 21-year old wound up in Goa became a source of a new wave of support against queer haters. According to the reports filed, Hareesh had come out to her family as bisexual a few months before her death, which as is evident, was not taken well by the latter. She was forced to enrol into a ‘de-addiction’ centre so as to ‘help’ her return to the right path. (The News Minute, 2020)
In 2021, despite the numerous awareness drives, people in India are not ready to accept the natural phenomenon of homosexuality. At least 64% of the population feels like homosexuality is not justified, it’s unnatural and wrong (M.V. Lee Badgett, October 2014). With the increasing number of incidents of stigma, abuse, harassment, discrimination, etc. the Indian queer is faced by a dual edged sword of whether they should come out or not. Both have a consequence that is against them. What is heart-breaking is that they can’t rely on their near and dear ones for support as societal honour and rules take front position.
The news is filled with numerous such incidents. From forcing young students to confess their sexual orientation (The Indian Express, 2018), to driving them to commit suicide, the face of discrimination keeps changing to worse and worse forms. Experts define homophobia as ‘aversion’ or ‘fear’ that is irrational and aimed at the LGBTQ+ community. They define it as irrational because haters have no logical basis for their hatred.
Every day, the average queer, fears for their lives. They can never predict what the consequence of being a queer person has in India.
The case of Hareesh, mirrors those of so many that never saw the news much less the headlines. Many clinical psychologists report that the pressure of family reputation and fear of discrimination is so great that the person themselves comes to them to undergo conversion therapies. They beg for the practitioners to help them overcome their attractions.
For those lucky ones who do get family support, the journey isn’t any easier. The society around them is not always accepting. So many of the queer members have reported marriage proposals, forced rapes, discontinuation of job posts on the basis of their sexual orientation, not getting decent residential places, etc.
The scene doesn’t get easier when the media likes to misrepresent the community. Popular directors, movies, sitcoms, are riddled with blatant and incorrect references to the LGBTQ+ community. With the way the portrayal is, a number of other problems occur. Fantasizing about gay, lesbian or transgenders, men on lesbian dating websites, disrespecting the transgenders because of their stereotypical images are on the rise precisely because of the media representation. (The News Minute, 2016)
When all fails, humans like to pray to God, but the lgbt community has no respite in the land of gods either. In a land of more than 300 million Deities, the queer has no support from either one. Or so the religious heads like to claim. Even though, historians, religious scholars, researches like to point out the obvious and not-so obvious references to the lgbtq community in ancient scriptures (The Indian Express, 2020)
The violence, the discrimination seems to have to no end. But it is not indestructible. It can be conquered if we all pledge to educate ourselves and at least try to understand where these people come from. Knowing them, one thing is for sure, the lgbtq community knows that it is difficult if not impossible to understand what they feel and why they feel, but the least they could expect is to have the freedom to choose what they feel is right by them. In this era, in this country that has been celebrating freedom for the past 75 years, the least a human can expect is the freedom to choose.
The freedom to choose without fearing the consequences of life and death. The largest democracy can be a better place to live if we can live by human ideals of inclusiveness and respect, rather than pride and honour. The fight to equality is long and hard but each of us at individualistic levels can make a change by being more inclusive and less gossipy. (The Active Times, 2020)

- By Gargi Khandwe
Content Writer
Social Journal

References -

‘15-year old boy commits suicide after friends tease his behaviour as feminine’, Deccan Chronicle, 9 February 2018, accessed 7 September 2021 <https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/090218/15-yr-old-tamil-nadu-boy-suicide-classmates-tease-behaviour-feminine-c.html>
‘‘I am a lesbian’: Kolkata girls’ school forces 10 students to ‘confess’ in writing’, The Indian Express, 13 March 2018, accessed 9 September 2021 <https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/kolkata/i-am-a-lesbian-kolkata-girls-school-forces-10-students-to-confess-in-writing-5096507/>

‘Kerala student dies in Goa, death puts focus on inhuman 'conversion therapy' on queer people’, The News Minute, 16 May 2020 https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/kerala-student-dies-goa-death-puts-focus-inhuman-conversion-therapy-queer-people-124683
‘Conversion therapy for homosexuality: serious violation of ethics’, Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, 04 July 2016
https://ijme.in/articles/conversion-therapy-for-homosexuality-serious-violation-of-ethics/?galley=html
https://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/527261468035379692/pdf/940400WP0Box380usion0of0LGBT0People.pdf
Apoorva Malhotra, ‘A personal Account of What it Means to be Gay in India’, Quartz India, 17 July 2019
https://qz.com/india/1667992/the-struggles-of-lgbtq-community-in-india/