Expat gays will leave ‘if things get worse’

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 13 Desember 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: India's expat gay community suddenly feels less comfortable in a country they now consider home. While they aren't exactly packing their bags and taking the next flight out, some are giving themselves the option of leaving India "if things get worse".

"All of a sudden I feel less welcome in India," says a French expat in a company. He says that depending on how things pan out, he may consider returning to Europe.

"I have dealt with many foreigners who did not want to visit India after the Delhi rape case. The SC judgment will only confirm the view that India is a patriarchal society that tramples on rights of women and the gay community. The Delhi rape resulted in a decline in female tourists. With this order, there will be a decline in gay tourists too," says Waswo X Waswo, an American artist from Udaipur who has lived in India for over a decade. While Waswo does not go out of his way to proclaim he's gay, he does not go out of his way to hide it either. He felt a sense of freedom when the Delhi HC decriminalized homosexuality; the SC order has left him with a feeling of unease.

"Many point to the fact that the law (Section 377) is seldom enforced. This may be true, but the law stigmatizes the community and its selective enforcement is like dangling a sword over one's head. It keeps you in line from speaking on any issue as it makes your existence less legitimate," says Waswo.

"My Facebook page has a number of comments from people in the West who say they will not visit Russia or India. If a married gay man with a family is offered a job at an Indian multinational, I'm not sure he'll take it," says John Connolly, an Irish-American citizen who designs Indian wedding cards in Delhi. He recently married his Indian boyfriend in New York. His partner enjoys legal rights under US law as his spouse, a privilege Connolly does not enjoy in India. Connolly has to routinely renew his work visa, something he wouldn't have to do if his relationship was legally recognized. Connolly, though, loves India and has no plans to leave the country.

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