Indian cult T-shirt brand Bewakoof has apologized for a joke about gay rape on their Facebook page.
After cricketer Chris Gayle set a world record in an Indian Premier League match in Pune earlier this week. Bewakoof posted a joke that said ‘If a man rapes another man, he is called GAY. If a man rapes 11 other men he is called GAYLE.’
The joke got more than 15,000 shares and 18,000 likes before it was taken down.
Yesterday Bewakoof published an apology saying ‘we crossed the line’.
‘It was meant as a joke on Gayle only,’ said Bewakoof on their Facebook page. ‘had no initial intention to address gays as rapists or to make a sick rape joke… Rape is a very sensitive issue in our country and rape jokes should not be entertained… We are not against Gays. and also Chris Gayle if you are reading this, no offense bro.’
Sukhdeep Singh, editor-in-chief of Indian gay magazine website Gaylaxy, said that it was ‘incredible’ that the joke appeared just five days after the country was shocked by news of another rape, this time of a five-year-old child.
‘India is going through a severe crisis of sexual violence against women, and there has been a marked increase of cases of gang-rapes across the country,’ wrote Singh in Gaylaxy.
‘Sexual violence and rape are something that Indians have started taking so lightly that a cricketer is equated to a serial-rapist (of men) to appreciate his performance. Given this sad state of affairs and sick mentality, there seems no hope of any reduction of sexual violence against women, and dignity for gays in this country.’
Many of the Facebook comments on the joke were critical. ‘So you turn gay after "raping" a man? Please educate yourself before turning to the next page of your life!’ said one. ‘Sick POV [point of view] there are things and lessons in gender sensitivity needed by your whole team – No men who rape men are not called gay. Men who love men are gay,’ said another.
But users who reported the post to Facebook as inappropriate and offensive were told that it does not violate the ‘Community Standard on hate speech’.
Indian LGBT rights activist Pallav Patankar told Gay Star News that ‘within the gay community there has been a divided opinion on the joke’ with some people saying ‘we need to learn to have a sense of humor and take it as just a joke’ (an earlier version of the joke used the word ‘fucks’ instead of ‘rapes’).
‘Since at a larger level the Section 377 [the law that criminalizes gay sex] reading down hinges on consensual sex, equating rapists and gay men is not exactly great for us,’ said Patankar.
‘Many gay men have not taken it well, since it means that gay men don’t find raping a big deal. These men have issues with gay men being equated to paedophiles and rapists in this country. Homosexuality is along the lines of “perversions” such as rape, paedophilia etc… and that is not being taken nicely by the gay community.’