'Party at pubs, not bungalows and homes'

In the wake of a police raid on the gay party last Saturday, members of the community have decided to exercise caution while planning and attending parties, and equip themselves with the necessary legal know-how
On its guard after cops raided and cancelled a gay party being held at hotel Spanish Villa last Saturday night, members of the community have decided to exercise caution while organising and attending such social gatherings.

Caught red-handed: Cops raided a party at Spanish Villa Hotel on SV
Road in Jogeshwari (W) and penalised the revellers for consuming alcohol
and engaging in obscene acts on Sunday.

A meeting has been scheduled for party organisers of the LGBT community later this week to discuss the event, wherein legal opinion will also be sought regarding drinking permits, party deadlines, and rules monitoring public obscenity.

Socialites also claim that they will be avoiding partying in residences for a while, and opt for bars, lounges and pubs instead, which almost always have liquor permits and other necessary licences in place.

Ever since the Delhi High Court's 2009 amendment to article 377 of the Indian constitution decriminalised homosexuality, Mumbai has earned quite the reputation for being one of the most gay-friendly cities in the nation, where parties hosted for the LGBT community are frequent affairs. However, problems cropped up on Saturday night, when the party at the Jogeshwari venue ended in a debacle, with nearly 130 homosexual revelers being detained by the Oshiwara police, on charges of obscenity, illegal drinking, and public nuisance.

Members of the community claim that it was ignorance about the rules that led to the fiasco.

"It is possible that the police went on overdrive, and came down harder than necessary on the invitees. But at the same time, we need to be careful about hosting and attending such parties. Organisers who host such parties, will definitely lie low for a while," admitted a socialite who frequently hosts social gatherings. 

Other socialites were heard talking of giving bungalows and beach parties a miss, and opting for the safer pubs and lounges instead. "Usually pubs acquire all the necessary licences and are aware of the laws surrounding consumption of alcohol and public revelry. They are thus safer than bungalows and house parties," said a gay activist.

Vikram Doctor, founder of support group Gay Bombay, said, "We have planned a meeting, where we will seek legal help for such cases. However, we request all to adhere to the rules and regulations and stay away from trouble."

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