India has aired an episode of a popular dating show featuring gay contestants for the first time.
MTV’s Elevator Pitch is a reality dating show where contestants try to win a date, while riding in a lift.
In a promotional clip posted on Twitter, co-host Cyris Sahukar said India had taken a “progressive leap by decriminalising Section 377.”
Co-host Gaelyn Mendonca added: “Ten boys will pitch themselves over 10 floors to one lucky boy.”
In each episode of Elevator Pitch, ten contestants have the time it takes for a lift to go one floor in order to convince the eligible bachelor or bachelorette to go on a date.
Atmaj Vyas, who was the bachelor in the episode, told NBC news that the show was like “speed dating”.
— MTV India (@MTVIndia) November 12, 2018
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He said: “There were guys who were making style statements, talking about life and even one who was actually coming out to his family via the show. It really doesn’t get better than that.”
“The main premise of the show is to find someone you connect with and would like to go on a date with.
Vyas added: “So in that regards, yes, I did. The boyfriend part, well, lets just say there’s a lot more that goes into that.”
India’s ban on same-sex relations
India decriminalised homosexuality in September, after five judges of the Supreme Court were unanimous in their decision to overturn the ban on consensual same-sex relations.
Gay sex was previously punishable by a sentence up to life in prison.
Section 377, introduced in 1861 under British colonial rule, banned sexual relations “against the order of nature”.
Despite the law being lifted earlier this year, however, many LGBT Indians still face stigma and discrimination.
A study conducted among users of LGBT+ social networking site Romeo found half of the 3,392 gay, bisexual and transgender Indian men who participated in the survey are still not out to their families and friends.
It also revealed that more than 40 percent did not plan on telling anyone that they are gay.