BENGALURU: Bengaluru is a relatively safe city for the LGBT community, but there have been few cases of harassment. Members of the community say that they are limited to people who are easy to identify and belong to the poorer sections.
Vinay Chandran says the Sahaya helpline receives five to six calls a week related to relationships and fitting in. He said, “Lesbians from the poorer sections are more susceptible to violence. Section 377 has given the police an opportunity to use the law against gays, previously only used to harass the hijra’s. A sense of fear pervades the community, but the upper middle class is sometimes safe due to the support systems they have.”
According to Gowthaman Ranganathan from Alternative Law Forum, the verdict has increased the threat of persecution. Many escape harassment when their sexuality is not evident. “As most queer folks can easily pass as straight by appearance, they often don’t deal with much trouble. The transgenders and cross dressers are most affected.”
Recently a student of IISc was harassed and threatened by fellow students for being gay and the matter was resolved with the help of a support group on campus.
A similar support group is National Law School Queer Alliance, formerly an informal group to discuss queer-related issues. To be able to bring a structural change, the group decided to launch an official platform. The founders are Padmini Baruah, Sakshi Shah and Akshat Agarwal.
The group meets once in three months and conducts counseling sessions regularly. “The last meeting had around 25 people, mix of queer and straight people,” said Akshat.
Recently there was a student who had trouble speaking to his fellow batch mates and the body put him in touch with psychologists to help him open up. “If a person has any issue contacting doctors, lawyers or needs help connecting with anyone for an emergency, we help,” he added.
This institute also has openly gay faculty and is extremely encouraging of the pride walk that is expected to be held on Sunday from Majestic to Town Hall. “The college is providing us with a bus to the venue and back. Around 45 us are going,” he said.
A student had recently shared a post on Facebook expressing how lucky she felt to be part of the community in NLC since they had a poster-making session for the pride walk.