CHENNAI: Clarence (name changed) is a scared man. And his being gay has everything to do with it, but for all the wrong reasons.
On June 6, when he was returning to his parent’s home on the city’s outskirts in an area in neighbouring Kancheepuram a little past 10 pm, a group of seven police officers — comprising men and women in plain clothes — sexually assaulted, groped and insulted him, repeatedly calling him onbodhu (slang for eunuch). “The day after that I was so ashamed... that I tried to kill myself. But my parents found me before life left me. That is the reason I summed up all the courage I have and am speaking out,” said the 25-year-old gay man, who has been trying to find employment for a while now.
“I was returning from an interview and had to travel by bus and train, and then walk 40 minutes to reach home. Halfway to my destination, the policemen and women called me, asking why I was wearing women’s clothes,” he said. They were referring to the leggings and bright kurta that were the openly gay man’s mainstay. “I tried to ignore them but two of them caught me by my neck and dragged me over,” he recalled with a shiver. He knew they were police officers because of their brown shoes and khakhi pants, besides the police jeep that they stood around.
Even as he hoped that they would look at his identity cards and ascertain that he was not a transgender prostitute, a policewoman lewdly commented that his breasts were very large. “And then they fondled me. I struggled until the woman actually kicked me and felt under my kurta and pulled at my crotch. That was it,” he told Express, choking back tears. A senior police officer from Kancheepuram said that “there had been no report of such an incident but promised to make inquiries”.
After a week of living in fear of further attacks by the police personnel, he hit back by posting the story of his assault on an LGBT forum and even posted a photo of his battered face — a post that has since gone viral. Even as he hopes and prays that the police don’t end up seeing his post online, Clarence lives in mortal fear that they would make good on their threat of “using section 377” on him.