Incident After Incident Shows Struggles Of LGBT Community In India To Find Acceptance
Despite numerous awareness campaigns on same-sex relationships and the LGBT community, a large chunk of Indian population still remains uneducated and unaccepting of the same. World Values Survey Data (WVS) from India indicates that 64 percent of Indians believe that homosexuality is never justified. The pride month may be over, but does that mean our discourse on a mass rejection of same-sex relationships stops as well? Discrimination, abuse, harassment and heartbreak, the people from the LGBT community have to face these from strangers and loved ones alike, pride month or otherwise.
The social, familial and emotional consequences of “coming out” offer force same-sex couples into keeping their relationship under wraps, until it leads to a catastrophic situation.
One such incident took place recently in Begusarai, Uttar Pradesh where a girl named Anjali (name changed) was forcefully married off to a boy by her family members just because she was attracted to a girl, Puja (name changed) who was infact her partner for over two years. The two women Anjali and Puja were in a relationship for over two years. But Anjali’s family members, despite her opposition, got her married on June 14 to a man in Ranchi.
After getting to know that Anjali has been married off, Puja confronted Anjali’s husband at their house on Thursday and insisted that she and Anjali were already married and had committed to live together. Anjali also told her husband that she had accepted Puja as her husband and it was only under pressure from her family that she was married to him. As the situation aggravated the boy’s family members reached the local police station for help.
“We first brought both girls to the police station and conducted a counselling session. But both women remained adamant on living together as they had an emotional bonding. The girls are totally within their right to live life together. So police allowed both of them to return to their place in Jharkhand on Thursday,” Town SHO Amrendra Kumar Jha told TOI.
Police said Puja and Anjali used to work together at a store in Chatra in Jharkhand and it was there that they were attracted to each other. However, Anjali’s family members despite her opposition got her married to a boy.
This is just another incident of thousands, where people from the LGBTQI+ spectrum have been forcefully made to conform to the sexualities to which they do not originally belong.
What does the data say?
While there are no official demographics for the LGBT population in India, but the government of India submitted figures to the Supreme Court in 2012, according to which, there were about 2.5 million gay people recorded in India. These figures are only based on those individuals who have self-declared to the Ministry of Health. The stats may be much higher if we take into consideration all the people who remain closeted.
Every single day, the Indian Queer Population finds itself facing a familiar dilemma – Whether to come out to the world or not? What could be the possible consequences? Will they be accepted by their family members for who they are? Queer youths are made to go through therapy, counselling, medical ‘treatment’ for ‘curing’ homosexuality and even forceful conversion therapy. A report titled Conversion therapy for homosexuality: serious violation of ethics says that conversion therapy is known to adversely affect mental health in terms of generating feelings of shame, which can further aggravate negative affective states such as depression and anxiety.
The recent death of 21-year-old queer student Anjana Hareesh in Goa whose suicide was triggered by homophobia is another wake-up call that we cannot ignore. The Pride Month might have come to an end, but the struggles of LGBTQIA+ community in our country hasn’t. Don’t just celebrate queer people for a month, ask what can be done to increase acceptance in our society and homes, so that no person has to suffer in silence or face ‘consequences’ just for being themselves.
Image Credit: Kirsty Lee
Pallabi Dutta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author’s own.