Advertisement

Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 324–330 | Cite as

Harassment and Violence Among Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) and Hijras After Reinstatement of India’s “Sodomy Law”

  • Dennis H. Li
  • Shruta Rawat
  • Jayson Rhoton
  • Pallav Patankar
  • Maria L. Ekstrand
  • B. R. Simon Rosser
  • J. Michael Wilkerson
Article

Abstract

On December 11, 2013, the Indian Supreme Court recriminalized non-peno-vaginal sex under Sec. 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), overturning a 2009 ruling that deemed IPC Sec. 377 unconstitutional. Similar “sodomy laws” in other countries have been associated with increased violence, harassment, and other discrimination against men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women. However, few studies have looked at the effects of such a law in an Indian context. This study examined experiences of victimization among MSM and hijra/transgender women (MSM-H) in the State of Maharashtra using a mixed-method approach. Data came from a quantitative survey and qualitative focus groups and interviews from an HIV prevention study as well as qualitative media and case reports from a local MSM-H-serving community-based organization. MSM-H in Maharashtra reported experiencing a high frequency of harassment, violence, and extortion, particularly from male sex partners met online and police. IPC Sec. 377 was implicated across qualitative sources as creating a culture of protection for harassment against MSM-H by being used directly as a tool for harassment, hindering victims of harassment from seeking legal recourse, and adversely impacting HIV and healthcare services. The reinstated IPC Sec. 377 may directly and indirectly facilitate negative health outcomes among MSM-H. Health agencies and advocates should continue to monitor the impact of IPC Sec. 377, incorporate rights-based approaches to protect MSM-H identities while addressing their health and well-being, and explore avenues to initiate discussions with the government to work toward repealing the law.

Keywords

HIV India Sodomy laws Men who have sex with men Harassment Violence Transgender 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge and thank the Indian Council of Medical Research, Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, and the The National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for their support of this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethics

This study was approved by the Institutional Review Boards of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, University of Minnesota, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, University of California San Francisco, and The Humsafar Trust.

Funding

The ISHKonnect Study was funded by The National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, funding number 1R21AI094676-01, and the Indian Council of Medical Research, Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, funding number INDO-US/84/2010-ECD-II.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Alcorn, K. (2013). European physicians condemn impact of Russian anti-gay law on HIV prevention and care [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.aidsmap.com/European-physicians-condemn-impact-of-Russian-anti-gay-law-on-HIV-prevention-and-care/page/2780967/
  2. Arreola, S., Santos, G., Beck, J., Sundararaj, M., Wilson, P. A., Hebert, P., et al. (2014). Sexual stigma, criminalization, investment, and access to HIV services among men who have sex with men worldwide. AIDS and Behavior, 19(2), 227–234. doi: 10.1007/s10461-014-0869-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barnett-Vanes, A. (2014). Criminalising homosexuality threatens the fight against HIV/AIDS. Lancet, 383, 783–784.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Beyrer, C. (2014). Pushback: the current wave of anti-homosexuality laws and impacts on health. PLoS Medicine, 11(6), e1001658. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001658.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Das, A. (2009). Gay and transgender rights in India: Naz foundation v. Government of NCT of Delhi. SSRN Electronic Journal. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.1701077.Google Scholar
  6. Gupta, A. (2006). Section 377 and the dignity of Indian homosexuals. Economic and Political Weekly, 4815–4823.Google Scholar
  7. Kumta, S., Lurie, M., Weitzen, S., Jerajani, H., Gogate, A., Row-kavi, A., et al. (2010). Bisexuality, sexual risk taking, and HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men accessing voluntary counseling and testing services in Mumbai, India. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 53(2), 227–233. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e3181c354d8.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Lawyers Collective. (2010). LGBT Section 377. Retrieved June 20, 2015, from http://www.lawyerscollective.org/vulnerable-communities/lgbt/section-377.html
  9. Naz Foundation v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi. (2013). WP(C) No.10972/2013. (New Delhi. 2013)Google Scholar
  10. National AIDS Control Organization (2013). National AIDS control annual report 2010–2011. New Delhi, India: Department of AIDS Control, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Organization.Google Scholar
  11. Poteat, T., Diouf, D., Drame, F. M., Ndaw, M., Traore, C., Dhaliwal, M., … Baral, S. (2011). HIV risk among MSM in Senegal: A qualitative rapid assessment of the impact of enforcing laws that criminalize same sex practices. PLoS ONE, 6(12). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028760
  12. Safren, S. A., Martin, C., Menon, S., Greer, J., Solomon, S., Mimiaga, M. J., & Mayer, K. H. (2006). A survey of MSM HIV prevention outreach workers in Chennai, India. AIDS Education and Prevention, 18(4), 323–332.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Semugoma, P., Beyrer, C., & Baral, S. (2012). Assessing the effects of anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda on HIV prevention, treatment, and care services. Journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS, 9(3), 173–176. doi: 10.1080/17290376.2012.744177.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Soni, M. L. (2006). Reply affidavit on behalf of respondents 4 and 5 (Naz Foundation v. Govt. of N.C.T. and others, Writ Petition No.7455 of 2001). New Delhi, India: Hight Court of Delhi. Retrieved from http://www.lawyerscollective.org/files/NACO's%20Affidavit.pdf.
  15. Stall, R., Mills, T., Williamson, J., Hart, T., Greewood, G., Paul, J., et al. (2003). Association of co-occurring psychosocial health problems and increased vulnerability to HIV/AIDS among urban men who have sex with men. American Journal of Public Health, 93(6), 939–942.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. StataCorp (2015). Stata data analysis and statistical software: release 14 (version 14.1) [Software]. College Station, TX: StataCorp LP.Google Scholar
  17. Swain (2016). Transgenders as the ‘other’: the politics of transgender community after the historic supreme court verdict. International Research Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies, 2(2), 1–6.Google Scholar
  18. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. (2015). Highlights of telecom subscriptions data as on 28th February, 2015 [Press release]. Retrieved from: http://www.trai.gov.in/WriteReadData/WhatsNew/Documents/PR-TSD-Feb10042015.pdf
  19. Thomas, B., Mimiaga, M., Kumar, S., Swaminathan, S., Safren, S., & Mayer, K. (2011). HIV in Indian MSM: reasons for a concentrated epidemic & strategies for prevention. Indian Journal of Medical Research, 136(6), 920–929.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Thomas, B., Mimiaga, M., Mayer, K., Johnson, C., Menon, S., Chandrasekaran, V., et al. (2009a). HIV prevention interventions in Chennai, India: are men who have sex with men being reached? AIDS Patient Care and STDS, 23(11), 981–986. doi: 10.1089/apc.2009.0092.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Thomas, B., Mimiaga, M., Menon, S., Chandrasekaran, V., Murugesan, P., Swaminathan, S., et al. (2009b). Unseen and unheard: predictors of sexual risk behavior and HIV infection among men who have sex with men in Chennai, India. AIDS Education and Prevention, 21(4), 372–383. doi: 10.1521/aeap.2009.21.4.372.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. UNAIDS. (2011). UNAIDS expresses concern over proposed “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” in Uganda [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/pressreleaseandstatementarchive/2011/may/20110510psuganda/
  23. Wilkerson, J. M., Patankar, P., Rawat, S. M., Rosser, B. R. S., Shukla, K. M., Rhoton, J., & Ekstrand, M. L. (2016). Recruitment strategies of Indian men who have sex with men into an online survey. International Journal of Sexual Health, 28(3), 221–227. doi: 10.1080/19317611.2016.1193079.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis H. Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shruta Rawat
    • 3
  • Jayson Rhoton
    • 1
  • Pallav Patankar
    • 3
  • Maria L. Ekstrand
    • 4
  • B. R. Simon Rosser
    • 5
  • J. Michael Wilkerson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public HealthHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and WellbeingNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA
  3. 3.The Humsafar TrustMumbaiIndia
  4. 4.Center for AIDS Prevention StudiesUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  5. 5.Division of Epidemiology and Community HealthUniversity of Minnesota School of Public HealthMinneapolisUSA

Personalised recommendations