Mumbai Uprising?

So this fabulous Sunday morning while we were prepping ourselves for another Gaysi Podcast, I noticed some kind of chaos on multiple community pages on Facebook. A deeper look and this story unfolded- Mumbai city. Queer Party. Rented Bungalow in the suburbs. Police raid. 133 men detained. Media exposé. A case of “indecent behavior” filed.

So this fabulous Sunday morning while we were prepping ourselves for another Gaysi Podcast, I noticed some kind of chaos on multiple community pages on Facebook. A deeper look and this story unfolded- Mumbai city. Queer Party. Rented Bungalow in the suburbs. Police raid. 133 men detained. Media exposé. A case of “indecent behavior” filed.

On one hand, Queers of Mumbai city were riding high on this year’s successfully concluded Pride celebrations, growth in Queer businesses, positive media exposure, increase in number of healthy social avenues and the likes. And BANG! One shocking episode propels many us back into our dark closets.

Here’s what some of the leading Queer voices had to say;

“From what we know from people who were there, the police landed around 1.30 am in full force, with two vans, and from their attitude it looked like they were not willing to listen to appeals. They also were careful not to hit any of the party goers which suggests they did not want to do anything that would be seen as negative for them. The main aim seems to have been to cause some level of humiliation, so they made everyone line up and wait for ages, then took them in batches to the police station where people’s names and numbers were taken and they were made to pay a fine of Rs1250 and then let go. The police had tipped off the media though and when the guys arrived at the station the cameras were lined up, and as can be expected they were mostly from the more sensational channels” reported gay rights activist and Journalist Vikram Doctor.

[Source: LGBT India Mailing list]

Eminent gay rights activist Ashow Row Kavi challenged this ‘moral policing’ act by Mumbai police. “It’s perfectly legal to hold parties within private premises. If this party was raided tomorrow somebody can raid your terrace birthday party too. It’s also perfectly legal to serve liquor at a private party. Nobody I know asks a guest to carry his/her permit when inviting a person to a party. I’ve gone to banquet halls, private hotels, houses and terraces where liquor was served freely without me carrying a permit. What can be termed a public nuisance is to play loud music beyond certain hours and disturb the peace and sleep of the neighbors who have a right to complain. Under such circumstances, it is normal for police to stop the music and confiscate the music systems which is standard procedure in Mumbai. Police have no authority to do moral policing and talk about “indecent behavior”. Do you think it is right for the police to enter your house and see you kissing anybody — man or woman — and make moral judgments on the behavior? So what is the justification here?”

[Source: LGBT India Mailing list]

Even if one argues that those in-charge were only doing their duty, but on what grounds were the party guests detained and fined? Are party guests liable if certain laws/regulations are not followed by the party organizers? What constitutes as “Indecent behavior” in the book of Law? Who tipped the new channels present outside the police station that night? And the bigger question which continues to linger; is it safe to be Queer?

Many years ago the city of New York suffered a Stonewall. In 2011 the city of Mumbai continues to endure a Stonewall for the nth time.

[*With inputs from Team Member : Shri]

Top: 2011-Mumbai Police raids a party in the Gay capital of Post 377 India; Bottom: 1969- Police raids Stonewall Gay bar at New York

About the author

MJ

Now 30, 100% shudh desi lesbian. Likes living large, and on the edge. Dislikes stagnation, fence sitting and hypocrites. Lives in a bubble of joy, with occasional lapses into drama queendom. Currently nursing a massive crush on actress Chitrangada Singh (kind of eerie, her resemblance to the late Smita Patil, don’t you think?). Aspires to build a fully functional support system for the Gaysi community in India. And most importantly, top the 'Hottest eligible desi-lezzie' list one bright sunny day.