Members of the LGBT community gathered outside the office of Commissioner of Police, Maltekdi, Amravati, on Monday to protest against a series of homophobic news stories that had been published in the Marathi daily Lokmat Amravati. In its reports, Lokmat correspondent Ganesh Deshmukh claimed to have done a “sting operation” at various popular gay meeting joints to expose the growing “gay culture” in the district to which young boys were falling prey.
The protest was coordinated by Hemangi Mhaprolkar from The Humsafar Trust, Mumbai. The protestors, numbering around 40, held a silent protest with black headbands and rainbow flags and protest placards. They demanded that the daily publish positive stories about the community. Sonal Giani, advocacy officer at The Humsafar Trust, said, “The editor confuses sexuality with sex work and speaks about the LGBTIQ community in the most deplorable manner. This besides impacting HIV intervention would affect mind sets and push people deep into closets of shame.”
Police Commissioner Mr. A Patil facilitated talks between the protesting group and Lokmat Amravati. Ganesh Deshmukh, the concerned reporter, however defended himself saying that neither he nor Lokmat were against gays, but were concerned with paid or unpaid sex in public. Mr Patil extended his support to the community and said that gays have the right to be who they are.
Activist Harrish Iyer demanded that Lokmat take action against Ganesh Deshmuk, “I recommend a crash course in moral science for Ganesh Deshmukh and I wish the higher ups in Lokmat act on this much maturely, taking action against him.”