Indian officials struggle to strike a balance in their ever-changing cultural landscape. While colonial-era anti-gay laws remain on the books, gay men and women (mostly men) are beginning to emerge from the taboo-filled shadows. Their place in the light, however, remains capricious. Take, for example, a shake-down that went down this weekend. Six people were detained after coppers picked up the scent of a gay-filled fiesta.
24-year old Sahil Bhoricha and his friends rented a bungalow in the Yeoor Hills and planned to have a party. In an effort to boost attendance, Bhoricha and company sent out text messages, emails and placed an advert on the internet. Cops caught wind of the event and formulated an elaborate plan to close down the queer event.
Based on information from nearby residents, the police swung into action by inspecting vehicles at a checkpost on the road leading to Yeoor. A person transporting a music system to the venue was intercepted. Subsequently, he led them to the place where Sahil and four others were present.
According to API Madhukar Kumbhar, Sahil claimed it was his birthday party and that he had invited his friends over. The bungalow had been hired for Rs 6,000. “We found that it was not his birthday and neither was he able to give a satisfactory explanation for organising the party,” said Kumbhar.
A search revealed that the group had stocked up on snacks, cold drinks and condoms; the liquor was found hidden outside the house in a nearby bush. All six persons, including a watchman, were taken into custody, but subsequently released. Police had sought to book and arrest the group for possession of liquor without a permit, but a magistrate denied them custody.
Gay activist Ashok Row Kavi questioned the coppers’ reasoning:
There’s something objectionable in the way the policeâ€”instead of going after terrorists and thievesâ€”are going after innocent people. What’s the big deal? These boys were all adults and were taking a crate of beer to a party in a private place. It’s unfair that you barge in. Besides, carrying condoms isn’t a sin.
Apparently authorities didn’t agree – not initially, at least. Perhaps the magistrate’s decision will send a message to police: fight actual crime, not things which should no longer be considering as such…