It came as no big surprise when a recent survey found 42 per cent of LGBTQ+ members become victims of virtual harassment one time or the other.
The reason – most members of the queer community live in a shell or lead a discreet life, which makes them easy targets for online predators.
In fact, over the years, incidents of the community being mocked, robbed or extorted money via online dating apps has witnessed an upward trend.
One of the major contributors towards this is their portrayal in media, especially the film industry, where they have forever been mocked and made fun of.
To make people aware of online bullying as well as the threats they can face from individuals who have no good intentions, an anti-cyberbullying campaign has been launched by gay social networking app Blued, which is based in Noida.
Joining hands with community-based organisations, Queerythm and Ya.All, Blued has launched a 24x7 helpline (9745545559 / 6009032883) where one can report such incidents.
The online campaign highlights real-life scenarios with people who have been persecuted under the situation.
Highlighting the ill-effects of cyberbullying, the initiative also educates viewers on steps they must take to keep themselves safe on online dating sites and apps.
It spreads awareness about how cautious one has to be while approaching others or making a profile on a dating app.
“Even though there’s been a steady growth and improvement in the status of LGBTQ+ members, the cases of cyber bullying are on the rise. I feel it is the moral responsibility of each one of us to create a safe environment for everyone,” shared Blued India’s marketing director Sanyam Sharma, explaining the reason behind launching the campaign.
Agrees Blued country manager YuJun. “As a social network, it is our responsibility to provide a safe platform for users and ensure we arm our users with information and tools to verify the person’s identity.
"This helpline will prove to be helpful for everyone in the community.”
Gaurav (name changed on request), a Lajpat Nagar resident who was a victim of cyberbullying and physical abuse, states, “I’d been chatting with someone [on an app] who didn’t sound, look or feel like he could hurt anyone.
One night, while returning from work, I saw a bunch of guys standing outside my house. One of them called my name and started reciting details of the chat that I was having with my new blind date.
Immediately, it was a fight or flight situation for me. I decided to walk away. As soon as I starting moving towards my house, these guys grabbed my laptop bag, and the next thing I know, I’m on the pavement with blood oozing down my head.
All my valuables were gone. I was ripped off of my sense of safety and who I was. Since then, I have stopped entertaining unverified people on apps. That night was an eye opener.”