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Current Affairs

First gay club registered in India

Katherine Knowles March 22, 2006

KOLKATA, INDIA: Indian members of the Integration Society, an organization committed to the defence of human rights and sexual freedom, apply make-up as they take part in a march entitled "Walk on the Rainbow" in Kolkata, 26 June 2005 to commemorate the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, said to be the birth of the Gay Liberation Movement. Some hundred members took part in the march even as homosexuality in India stands criminalized because of a mid 19th century colonial law, as the section 377 of the Indian Penal Code enacted by the British in 1860 criminalizes what it calls, "sexual offences against the order of nature". AFP PHOTO/DESHAKALYAN chowdhury (Photo credit should read DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images)

The first gay club to be officially registered in India has been founded in Chennai – a brave move in a country where homosexuality is illegal, and homosexuals are viewed with suspicion and contempt.

The group’s founder, Mr Vasu, said that he created the Men’s Community Development Society (MCDS) to draw attention to the injustices that gay people suffer. Unofficially the group has been meeting for 6 years and has over 700 members in Chennai alone, but Mr Vasu decided to take the step of registering the MCDS after police discrimination convinced him that some official protest should be made.

“I meet someone at a cruising point, and am talking to him, getting to know him,” Mr Vasu related. “Just then a policeman comes, finds condoms in my pocket. He asks for bribe, threatens us, and slaps a case on us.”

The MCDS intends to be a source of legal advice for gay people. “Police catches gay couples for no reason and the poor guys can’t even call home,” explained group member Mr Raja. “We will go over and release them in such times. Then, if someone is fired because of being gay, we meet the MD, and point out the legalities. Then, we counsel sex workers on STD, and HIV.”

The group also hopes to have a political voice, objecting to Section 377 of the Indian Penal code, which criminalizes homosexuality.

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