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India's Mr. Gay World Entrant Drops Out of Competition, Goes into Hiding After Family is Threatened


Thahir Mohammed Sayyed, the sole entrant from India in the 2015 Mr. Gay World competition, has dropped out and gone into hiding, citing threats to his religious family who lives in Kochi, DNA India reports:

"I am withdrawing from the contest."

I hope the organisers appreciate the difficulties I faced. I cannot take this pressure," he said in a message, refusing to come on the phone. "I have switched off my phone to prevent getting any 'unwanted' calls," he added.
When asked whether he and his family are safe, he said, "It would be unfair for me to drag them into any trouble." He also refused to comment on any ongoing pressure from his community, saying, "Talking about this will only worsen things".

Sayyed and his family had remained incommunicado and couldn't be found at both their Kochi and Kottayam homes. Human rights and LGBT activists in Kerala were alarmed after dna front-paged the plight of this part-time model and fashion designing post-grad from Brisbane, Australia. His family was prevented from praying at the local mosque and threatened with ostracism after his entry into the pageant became public.

The Hindu adds:

Eric Butter, who together with Dean Nelson started Mr Gay World in 2009, said the event was created precisely to combat homophobia, which appeared to have denied Mr. Sayyed his opportunity.

TIME reports on the withdrawal:

The weeklong event will begin in Knysna, South Africa, on Sunday and will feature contestants from 20 countries. Sayyed would have been the only Asian participant.

LGBT Indians Give Advice To Their 15 Year-Old Selves: VIDEO

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In one of its newest YouTube videos Being Indian asks people attending this year’s gay pride parade held in Mumbai to share words of wisdom with their 15 year-old selves. The overwhelming sentiment: coming out and loving yourself are crucial components to living happy stable lives.

These words of wisdom come at a time when Indian society is growing increasingly hostile towards its queer population, but, as one respondent explains: “This world is just waiting for you. There’s so much of love and beauty in it, why do you just think of some fuckers who think about hate?”

Check out Being Indian’s video letters to its queer 15 year old self AFTER THE JUMP...

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Despite Social Turmoil, Mumbai's 7th Pride Parade Sees Record Turnout - VIDEO

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Mumbai’s seventh annual Pride Parade brought together hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered members of the city’s queer community. The overwhelming joy and irreverence of the most recent parade belies the Indian government’s recent trend of backsliding on LGBT rights in the country.

In 2009 The High Court of Delhi ruled that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalized homosexuality, was unconstitutional. The law had been in place since 1860 when it was first implemented under the British occupation of India. In 2013, however the Indian Supreme Court overruled the decision, stating that repealing the Penal Code was a decision best left to the country’s Parliament, rather than its Judicial body.

Since then the Indian government has slowly continued to chip away at the rights of its queer citizens by denying same-sex couples equal adoption rights and going so far as to suggest state-backed initiatives to “cure” queer youth. Socially, however, there have been moments of progress like the election of India’s first transgender mayor and television news anchor.

Despite India’s social turbulence, Pride-goers were confident in their decisions to march.

"I am marching to spread awareness because of my son who is gay,"a 74-year old mother told Vice. "For the first time in my life, I am fighting for the right cause."

Watch footage of Mumbai's 7th annual gay pride parade AFTER THE JUMP...

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Indian Youth Affairs Minister Suggests Government-Sponsored 'Cure' for LGBT Youth

Goa is India's fourth smallest state in population. Speaking at the opening for Goa’s 2015 National Youth Day, Goa’s sports and youth affairs minister, Ramesh Tawadkar, said that the Goan government was considering a state-sponsored program for LGBT youth similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. The program, which has not been formally announced, would work to “cure” queer youth through a mixture of counseling and medical intervention.

3565_lead06"We will make them normal,” Tawadkar said. ““We will train them and (give them) medicines too.”

Tawadkar went on to explain that the Goan government has plans to carry out an extensive survey within the country’s LGBT population to better gauge the community’s social needs. As news of Tawadkar’s remarks drew the attention of the LGBT press, the minister made further statements saying that he had been misquoted.

“I was not talking about the LGBT (youths) but about drug addicted and sexually abused youths," he explained. "Youth policy speaks about drug addicted youths and sexually abused youths as a focused group. There are provisions in the central government sponsored Social Justice Scheme for such youths which can be implemented in Goa.”

Listen to Tawadkar's remarks AFTER THE JUMP...

UPDATE: Tawadkar backtracks:

"I was misunderstood and misquoted. I was not talking about the LGBT (youths) but about drug addicted and sexually abused youths," Tawadkar told PTI, as local channels in Goa continued to air the footage in which he assured medical treatment to LGBT youths to make them "normal".

"Youth policy speaks about drug addicted youths and sexually abused youths as a focused group. There are provisions in the central government sponsored Social Justice Scheme for such youths which can be implemented in Goa," the Sports and Youth Affairs minister said, a day after he was widely criticised for his statements.

Continue reading "Indian Youth Affairs Minister Suggests Government-Sponsored 'Cure' for LGBT Youth" »

Madhu Kinnar Elected India's First Transgender Mayor

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 3.54.00 PMTransgender Independent-Mayoral Candidate Madhu Kinnar has won the mayoral election of Chhattisgarh's Raigarh Municipal Corporation by 4,537 votes against Bharatiya Janata Party member Mahaveer Guruji reports NDTV. Kinnar, a 35-year-old trans woman belonging to the Dalit community, is the first transgender person to elected as mayor of an Indian city.

Kinnar issued a statement regarding her historic win:

"People have shown faith in me. I consider this win as love and blessings of people for me. I'll put in my best efforts to accomplish their dreams."

"I only spent Rs. 60,000-70,000 from my earnings during my campaign. It was the public support that encouraged me to enter the poll fray for the first time and because of their support only, I emerged as the winner."

Kinnar, whose birth name is Naresh Chauhan, studied up to eighth standard and spent most of her life in different works including collecting money from dancing and singing on trains in her youth.

The Advocate adds:

However, not everyone is celebrating Kinnar’s history-making win. "There was no Modi wave in Raigarh this time. People of Raigarh were fed up with the corruption of BJP, hence they voted for Madhu. It is not Madhu Kinnar's victory, but it's a loss of BJP," Raigarh district Congress (urban) president Narendra Negi said.

Nevertheless, Kinnar’s opposition will not contest the outcome. "We accept the decision of people and we will review it," said BJP district president Rajesh Sharma.

Last April, the Indian Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling recognizing transgender people as a third gender. 

Indian Police Detain 167 Transgender Women After Bangalore Pride Protest: VIDEO

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Indian police initiated a "crackdown" on public begging that resulted in the jailing of 167 hijras, which are transgender Indian women and also third gender identifiers, in a Hoysalas beggars colony located on the outskirts of Bangalore reports The Advocate and LGBT Indian news source Orinam. The crackdown began a day after Bangalore's Pride parade concluded. An anti-begging law enacted in 1975 under the Karnataka Prohibition of Beggary Act declares that detained beggars must go to a "relief center" for "rehabilitation" and stay there for a total of three years.

Fortunately, police later released all 167 hijras after they wrote guarantees saying that they will no longer ask strangers for money or food however, India's LGBT community believes the crackdown is a response directed toward the community after protests staged at Bangalore's Pride parade denounced the recriminalization of homosexuality that occurred in December 2013. Nearly 2,000 hijras and their supporters marched to the town hall on Wednesday to protest the actions of police after the crackdown sweep that occurred on Monday.

Orinam is calling for an inquiry, claiming that many of the hijras were not actively begging-many were going about their daily chores at the time they were taken into custody. Orinam also claims police barged into hijra homes, dragging them out onto the street. Critics of the anti-begging law claim that it makes looking poor a criminal act, leaving hijras susceptible to incarceration because they're often considered "untouchables," that do not have access to certain forms and levels of employment. Although all 167 of those detained were quickly released, many are fearful that hijra arrests will continue in the coming weeks.

The news come as nearly a thousand LGBT advocates and allies marched through New Delhi today, the first parade in the Indian capital since the Supreme Court recriminalized homosexuality.  

Film maker and photographer Luigi Storto released a trailer almost a year ago for his film "Naleena," about hijra life and the unique procedure a hijra undergoes to "renounce" one's gender. Watch the intriguing trailer, AFTER THE JUMP...

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