In 2016, when Hansal Mehta’s film “Aligarh” was released – amidst much controversy and clamour – it was one of the first movies which highlighted the kind of sexuality-based harassment people in India face. The same year, a survey conducted by Swasti (a health NGO) revealed just how frequent this kind of harassment really is, yet again putting a spotlight on the issue.
Job discrimination; environments that are hostile towards non-normative identities; verbal and physical abuse; sexual assault, blackmail; extortion – the LGBTQ community in India is vulnerable to a whole host of crimes. And with the sword of Section 377 perpetually dangling over their heads, many are often afraid of or discouraged from seeking help for these attacks.
But, this has to stop. In a video interview with Queer India Support, LGBTQ lawyer Aditya Bandhyopadhyay approaches the matter of harassment from a legal standpoint. He highlights key provisions that India’s law books already contain, and how they can (and should be!) used by those facing sexuality-based harassment. For example, Section 388 is particularly important in cases where someone is trying to extort money from you.
Bandhyopadhyay was part of the team that first filed the petition to read down Section 377. For over two decades now, he has worked on the issue of violence against trans Indians, and HIV/AIDS intervention. And there’s no one more capable than him, when it comes to laying out what options are available to queer Indians facing harassment.
So if you, or someone you know is being harassed, abused or blackmailed because of their sexual orientation, this video offers a number of options you can use to protect yourself and those around you.