Photo: Matt Hahnewald/Shutterstock

8 Uncomfortable Truths About Being LGBT in India

India Student Work
by Ben Lambert Mar 10, 2015

1. It’s illegal — again.

In 2009, the Delhi High Court handed down a landmark ruling decriminalizing homosexual acts. The religious lobby immediately filed appeals and, in 2013, the India Supreme Court overturned this ruling, recriminalizing homosexual acts stating it was not the court’s job to review the constitutionality of acts passed by parliament. Absolutely ridiculous.

2. This has led to scams targeting gay guys, both local and foreign.

Grindr and similar apps are great for helping gay guys meet while maintaining discretion. However, this has led to a rise in blackmail scams targeting gay guys. They arrange to meet you, and once in a compromising position, someone else busts in to take a photograph. Threats of turning photos over to the police ensue. It’s two-on-one and they’ve got the pics. You either pay or get arrested.

3. Gay guys can’t do things a lot of straight guys do.

Like holding hands in public. Straight male friends often do this as a sign of closeness and friendship. But two gay guys would never risk it, for fear of the possibly violent reprisals.

4. Local guys dating foreigners are often considered to be prostitutes.

If either guy is less than absolutely masculine, it doesn’t matter how discreet you are in public, locals will still stare, heckle, and make you very uncomfortable.

5. Gay guys are forced by their families to marry women and have kids.

It’s a big deal to come out in India, clearly. A lot of families react by simply forcing their son to get married.

6. As a result, a lot of gay guys you’ll meet have at least a fiancé, possibly a wife and kids.

There’s a good chance they won’t mention it until after the fact. If they do, they may not understand why you have a problem with it, which is a really sad example of the state of affairs for gay people in India. And no, I’m not talking about the bisexual guys who are married.

7. There’s a lot of hypocrisy regarding the treatment of Trans people.

In India, transwomen (male to female) are known as hirjas. They are treated as less than second-class citizens who seek out a living by begging on streets and on public transportation. Yet, they are also considered touched by the gods and are often invited to bless newborns — though this doesn’t mean that they get treated any better because of it.

Lesbians get almost no attention in India.

Which says pretty much all you need to know about the general treatment of women in India.

Discover Matador