Police not to act without complaint

Police not to act without complaint

But LGBT community fears increased harassment by cops

Delhi Police have ruled out any crackdown on the LGBT community after the Supreme Court set aside the 2009 Delhi High Court verdict decriminalising homosexuality.

 Members of the LGBT community, however, fear increased harassment by police with the Supreme Court ruling as an excuse. 

When asked how the judgement would impact police action against the ‘crime’, Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat says they will only take action on a complaint. About 120 cases have been registered under section 377 (unnatural sex) of the Indian Penal Code till November 30 this year, while 92 cases were filed last year. It is pertinent to mention that most of the cases were related to rape and did not involve homosexuals.       “We have booked people under the section only after receiving a written complaint regarding assault. If a person approaches us complaining of sexual misbehavior we are bound to take action,” says another senior police officer. The officer confirms that police would not opt for moral policing citing the apex court verdict. 

Naz Foundation’s founder Anjali Gopalan, however, alleges that the law has been often misused by police as a tool of harassment. It has also been used to blackmail and perpetuate violence against sexual minorities. “We have come across several incidents where the law has been used by the police to harass gay couples and extort money,” she says, adding that constant harassment from police tops the list of crimes against the LGBT community. 

Most such cases of harassment are reported from markets and parks. Gopalan says the LGBT community members are not sure that they would be able to move about freely anymore. “Attending parties at some places which police refer to as gay joints could be a problem as they could be picked up during raids and booked under the new ruling,” she adds. 

Preparing for the worst

Members of the community are preparing themselves for the worst. “I don’t fear moral policing as we are doing nothing now. If we are targeted, we will take the legal route. Our revolution will continue,” says Mohit, an LGBT activist.   

Gay rights activists also complain that it is difficult for the LGBT community to get a case filed over partner assault.

“Even they could be victims of sexual assault. However, the community members are not seen as a part of the society and there have been instances in which they have been turned away from police stations,” says Rituparna Bora of Pride Committee.

The Delhi Police officer, however, denies the allegations and says they treat everyone equally. 

Community members also claim they are seen as criminals due to the social stigma following the Supreme Court verdict. 

Gopalan and Bora are among thousands of supporters of the community who have been calling for equality. 

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