Chennai: The Delhi high court ruling of 2009 may have decriminalised gay sex but the community continues to face discrimination. Recently, a group of gay men was asked to leave a hotel bar by the staff who said it was “open only to men and women, and not gays”.
On October 23, eight gay men went to Zodiac, a lounge bar . “A few minutes after we entered, one of the hotel staff asked us to leave,” said 21-yearold Prithvi Raj, a Bangalorebased student. “They said the hotel is open only to men and women and not gays.” When the group protested, the staff got aggressive, forcing them to leave. “I was angry, they had no legal right to throw us out,” said Raj.
News of the incident has spread in the gay community, generating debates on social networking sites. Now some activists are planning to lodge a complaint with the state human rights commission. “A group of us approached the hotel authorities on November 5 after we heard about the incident,” said Sowmya Reddy, a Bangalorebased queer rights activist.
Hotel authorities, however, blame the security guards for the fracas. “Our hotel policy does not deny entry to gays,” said Pasupathy, manager of Zodiac. “The guard on duty was not aware of it. He had earlier worked in another hotel where gays were not allowed.” According to Pasupathy, this man and two other security guards were issued memos by the hotel management on November 8.
But activists are demanding a written apology. The community is also planning a protest as they feel the incident brings to light existing social prejudices. “This episode shows that working towards decriminalisation of LGBT is just a small part of the overall fight for equality,” said L Ramakrishnan, one of the editors of orinam.net, a bilingual website for the community.
“LGBT people face problems at hotels and in public places, especially when their sexuality is overt or visible,” said Sunil Menon, founder of Sahodaran, a male sexual health project.
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