The world’s largest gay social network, Blued, is tackling cyberbullying in India.
More than 40% of LGBT Indians reported blackmailing, intimidation, catfishing, or other forms of virtual harassment in India.
In a landmark ruling last year, India’s Supreme Court decriminalized gay sex. But, social acceptance is low and LGBTI people face discrimination in nearly all aspects of life.
Blued spoke to gay men in India to launch its anti-cyberbullying campaign.
One man shared how an app user began using his photo and claiming he was selling sex.
Following the incident, he said, he found it hard to find work. His friends also mocked him.
Another man explained how after blocking a person he wasn’t interested in, an app user threatened to tell his colleagues.
The incident forced the man to come out at work. ‘I was so worried, I was so nervous’ he said.
Another explained how a hook up stole from him.
‘When I first learnt about these horrific incidents that have been going around in India, I couldn’t believe my ears’ said YuJun, Country Manager, Blued India.
‘As a social network, it’s our responsibility to provide a safe platform for users and make sure that we arm our users with information and tools to verify the person’s identity’.
Fighting technology with technology
In its campaign, Blued explained how in-app features protect users.
Its two-way video call feature lets users see who they are talking to. It is not possible for either user to record or screenshot the call.
Blued also has a disappearing photo function.
Blued is also working with community-based organisations Queerythm and Ya.All. They provide support groups for the LGBTQI community.
They have launched helplines (+91.97.4554.5559 and +91.60.0903.2883) for anyone who needs assistance with cyberbullying.
LGBTI rights in India
The Indian Supreme Court in September last year ruled the country’s anti-gay law was unconstitutional.
Section 377 of India’s colonial-era Penal Code punished gay sex with up to 10 years in prison. But, the Supreme Court said it violated rights to privacy.
Indians, therefore, celebrated the decriminalization of an estimated 4.5 million LGBTI people.
Despite last year’s landmark decriminalization, LGBTI people in India face discrimination in nearly all aspects of life.
They are often denied access to housing by the government and the private sector, forcing them to live segregated from society.
They face harassment from landlords, family members, neighbors, and even the police.
In the world of work, employers often discriminate against LGBTI employers during recruitment. LGBTI workers are often dismissed because of their sexuality or gender identity.
India currently does not protect LGBTI people with anti-discrimination legislation.
What’s more, the transgender population has slammed a government bill purported to protect their rights.
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