India was ranked 81 out of 127 countries on the Gay Happiness Index. The country fared far worse than China and Nepal.
In India, being happy and gay is perfectly plausible but being gay and happy has only a 37 per cent probability, according to a survey by Planet Romeo — also called Gay Romeo in some countries. The website is one of the most popular social networking sites among the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, particularly among gays and bisexuals.
Though the site is based in Germany, it is used popularly in many countries, including India, by those seeking a date or sex.
This article aims at analysing some of the survey results pertaining to India. After all, we have no idea that there are gay people among us, forced to wear a mask of heterosexuality and lead an abnormal life.
Survey sample data
The survey was conducted in 25 languages across 127 countries among the 115,014 users of PlanetRomeo.com in collaboration with Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. The site interviewed 7,183 participants from just India (a sample size much bigger than perhaps many opinion polls that take place before the elections) with an average age of 29 years — of these participants, 75 per cent confirmed to be from metropolitan or big cities and 88 per cent of them were reported to be university graduates.
So, it would be fair to deduce that the survey would give a picture of urban gay/bisexual issues and not the overall gay community in India. Whether the condition in rural India, where literacy levels are low, is better or worse could be anybody’s guess. However, by any account, this is one of the most extensive known survey among the gay community.
India ranks 81 out of 127
According to the survey, India ranks 81 out of 127 countries with a Gay Happiness Index (GHI) of only 37 points and ranks far below China, which ranks 63 and Nepal that ranks 67. Iceland tops the chart at 79 and Uganda is the worst with a GHI of only 20.
Expectedly, Europe and American continents fare better on the GHI index, while African countries fare the worst.
Asia is not far behind. Israel and Thailand are the only Asian countries that fare in top 25. Indian neighbours have also done poorly. Bangladesh and Pakistan are ranked at 112 and 113 respectively, while Sri Lanka ranks 90.
Interestingly, Luxembourg where Prime Minister Xavier Bettel made history by becoming the first European Union leader to marry same-sex partner is ranked 10.
Public opinion: How do gay men feel about society’s view on homosexuality?
We get only 16 points out of 100 on this parameter. The fact that only two per cent felt people in country are gay-friendly speaks for itself. The survey pointed out that Indian laws and government decisions are anti-gay in the opinion of most participants. It also pointed out the hesitation Indians have towards gays by avoiding public events with an obviously gay person, or trying to approach another man for a date. “Char log kya kahenge” is perhaps a national epidemic that has added to homophobia.
Public behaviour: How do gay men experience the way they are treated by other people?
While public opinion is skewed against homosexuals, personal behaviour is somewhat better, but there’s still a long way to go. India has received just 46 out of 100 points. Folks may not be threatened with violence for their sexuality in our country, unlike Iraq and Sudan, but that’s hardly a benchmark.
Almost half of the gay population is discriminated against at work for their sexuality. In terms of healthcare, though, there is not much partiality. Clearly, the predicament between public opinion and public behaviour suggests that, on a personal level, Indians can still accept gays as their friends or colleagues as long as they are discreet in public about their sexual preferences.
This includes parents who refuse to accept the sexuality of their children, according to almost half of the respondents.
Life satisfaction: How satisfied are gay men with their lives and do they accept themselves
India gets 50 per cent marks in the parameter of life satisfaction for gays indicating medium self-acceptance. While many admitted to be in relationships with other women, perhaps owing to social and family pressure, a staggering majority of these have kept their lady partners in the dark.
The social stigma one faces by being labelled gay, with all the probable discrimination in society, family and the work place, and all the jibes that one may be forced to swallow for one’s sexuality could be the reasons they live a dual life — a straight husband in public and a gay man in private. This could explain the predicament that was faced by the AIIMS doctor who committed suicide or the Bangalore girl who filed a case against her gay husband.
Coming out and other interesting results
The survey points out that the “father” is the most dreaded figure in the Indian family to come out to for gay people. Most admitted their parents and siblings are completely oblivious to the fact that they are attracted to men. But they do confide in one or two best friends about the “big secret”. When none is aware of their orientation, they have no means left but to go to chat and dating sites on the Internet to find guys to have sex with, thereby fuelling more anonymity.
According to the survey, many feel the law and government decisions have worsened in the last one year. (Disclaimer – I am a Modi bhakt.) Still many think society’s views are changing. This suggests that civil society and social workers might be making the right noises but government action is required. A great majority feels that supporting LGBT organisations and pressuring the government might actually help to better the situation for homosexuals in India.
Twenty-four-year-old Akshat has been quoted in the survey, “I was bullied in my school days in such a bad way that even though it has been seven years, I still have those wounds. I am still hurt, I wish I could take the discrimination away. People around me commit suicide. Are we not human beings? It’s weird how the people running the country are homophobic.”
Social discrimination against the LGBT community is something that needs to be urgently addressed. While we, in India, still have Article 377 that legally and constitutionally prohibits gay relationships, same-sex attraction is not something that law or medical science can put a stop to.
So, a lot of awareness and normalisation needs to be brought in, probably by popular means of cinema or television. At the same time, we need to put pressure on the government and the judiciary to repeal draconian provisions for gay people and make life easier for them, so that they do not hide themselves in cocoons but are encouraged to come out in the open and be accepted as normal by society. And so that news like a “gay matrimony ad” are not an exception but a rule.
As my gay friend pointed out, with every U-turn of the Modi Sarkar, gay people are the ones who are the happiest, because they have hope…hope that he will take a U-turn on his party’s stand on gay rights too.
Author: Mr X is an anonymous writer who has no intention of revealing himself for the fact that he would be judged on his sexuality. Though he is not ashamed of it, he does not want to go through the pains of explaining to the doubtful and discriminating world that being gay is perfectly normal.
This article was republished from Newslaundry.com.