A homophobic petition that was floated on change.org, an online petition platform, has finally been taken down by the website after members of the LGBT community flagged the petition as inappropriate and called for Change.org to take it down. A petition titled “Stop the assault on Indian culture in the name of love. PROTECT the family system! Do not amend 377″ was started on the website two days back, and had garnered over 2500 signatures.
“Every Indian citizen and LGBT community needs to realize the danger and risks involved with the homosexual lifestyle and the monumental mistake made by western & european countries by legitimizing homosexuality,” the petition stated. The petition also went on to call homosexuality as an economic burden that reduces life span by 24 years, and that homosexuality poses a threat to heterosexual community.
The petition evoked strong response from the LGBT community, who also criticized change.org for allowing such a homophobic petition. Activist Harish Iyer questioned, “Can Jihadis make a petition on change.org? Can the khaap make a petition for killing people of the same gotra to protect humankind from god’s shaap on change.org? Will Change.org ,a platform that clearly is giving people an equal voice in terms of displaying their homophobia, give the above two people also an equal voice?”
Change.org finally removed the petition yesterday afternoon, but fell short of apologizing. In an email reply, the India team of the website said, “We are an open platform, and do not advocate for particular positions on specific issues. Any user, anywhere in the world can start a petition on any issue they like… Over 25,000 petitions are started on the site every month among our 50 million users… Because of our openness, we rarely remove petitions. However, like other prominent online platforms, we do remove content which includes hate speech, or which incites violence. We consider hate speech to be the advocacy of beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people based on their class, veteran status, gender identity, or immutable characteristics (race, ethnic origin, color, national origin, religion, disability, sex, age, sexual orientation), and the petition you wrote about violates that policy.”