A 32-year-old cross-dresser from Bengaluru was allegedly stabbed to death by an auto driver last month. The incident joins a long list of episodes of violence against the members of the LGBTQIA+ community in India who have to face the risk to their safety on a daily basis, alongside dealing with social stigma and ostracisation.
The deceased, known as Pradeep, was a resident of Bengaluru’s BTM layout. While this incident occurred on May 30, his body was only discovered on June 2, after his neighbours complained that a foul smell was coming from his apartment. The accused, named Rakshith, is still absconding.
Cross-dresser stabbed to death: Safety concerns for LGBTQIA+ Community
The news about Pradeep’s chilling assault and death comes in the wake of Pride Month, which is celebrated all over the world to acknowledge the struggles of the LGBTQIA+ community and spread awareness about the injustices that they have to face. Celebrations aside, news and statistics reveal a whole different story.
In India, violence against the queer community by society including, police brutality is still very prevalent. In 2020, a transgender person, a 28-year-old Vijji, was allegedly stabbed to death by two men in the Subramanyapura area in Bengaluru. The two accused men, Srinath (30) and Arun Kumar (27) reportedly stabbed her and dumped her body in an autorickshaw.
In another heartbreaking incident, a 23-year-old Sanjit Mondal from Kolkata, who belongs to the LGBTQIA+ community was taken to a police station, and allegedly beaten up and harassed by the police. “I had a harrowing experience but did not even know my fault. These men forcefully dragged me and started beating me without any reason. When I refused to abide by their instructions, they started beating me up brutally” said Mondal.
This judgement challenged the so-called societal norms, thus causing an increase in more horrifying incidents of violence and abuse. India Spend’s statistics based on research back in 2020 on the transgender community in India revealed around 52 percent of the respondents had been harassed by the police and around 96 percent had not raised a complaint because of their sexual and gender identity. Keep in mind that the Supreme Court of India had passed a judgement decriminalising homosexuality in the country on September 6, 2018. While the judgement gave legal relief to the LGBTQIA+ community, did it bring them acceptance or protection from oppression? The data quoted above provides a harsh answer to this question.
The community has been denied visibility, respect, and acceptance for the longest time. What are we celebrating during pride month when the actuality of their existence is marred by abuse and violence?
These incidences of violence demand for our urgent attention as mere gaining legal recognition is not enough, people from the community need to be protected from hatred, abuse, marginalisation and discriminations too. Safety can’t be a luxury that a few from the LGBTQIA+ community can afford due to their social status or because they live in an urban setup.
Four years is a long duration, but lack of change in our outlook towards issues related to the LGBTQIA+ community, how we conveniently turn a blind eye to incidents of violence like those stated above, proves that we shouldn’t be patting our backs just yet.
Views expressed are the author’s own.