On October 11, a member of Mumbai’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, Divyaroop Ananda, was beaten up by a group of men in Khar in broad daylight.
According to Divyaroop, who is an out homosexual, the group of men first passed obscene comments. Then, they groped him and, finally, the harassment escalated to a full-scale attack, as they beat and kicked him.
After some persuasion from LGBT activists, Divyaroop filed a police complaint. That itself is a huge step, in view of the yawning trust gap between cops and LGBT community.
The gay community, by and large, does not want to get embroiled with the police because there is the belief that the police are not understanding or that they will extort money by threatening to ‘out’ them or in another way.
There is a climate of fear and mistrust, but quick action by the cops — who arrested the attackers in two days — and a statement by the victim, who said the police were helpful and understanding, is going to go some way in breaking down walls.
In 2009, the Sunday edition of this paper had run a front-page story about a gay man — a cosmetics store manager from SoBo — who had sought intervention by the police after his friend gypped him of money and assaulted him. Then too, the victim had filed a complaint with the police, who were quick to take action. The headline of that report had screamed, ‘Go to the cops, says gay man’, underlining how vital it was to tell others in the community that the police can be trusted, and that there is hope for justice. Perhaps, if the police were to have sensitization training within the force, they would learn more about the community.
In whatever way though, these few steps towards closing the gap between the police and LGBT persons, is the start of a long overdue journey.