NEW DELHI: On June 6, a gay man and his group of friends in South Delhi’s Hauz Khas Area were subjected to assault, name calling and sexually colored insults by Delhi Police.

The ‘crime’: hugging an acquaintance. Blogger and fashion professional Anurag Dubey was leaving a restaurant in Hauz Khas’s Aurobindo Market, when he met an acquaintance -- a trans woman -- and exchanged a hug. The exchange sparked an angry reaction from cops on duty in the area. Dubey and his friends were reportedly beaten, with the cops hurling homophobic abuses.

The cops’ intervention and tone is yet another incident of hate directed at the LGBTQ+ community, and once again brings into question the safety and freedom of the community in India’s capital.

The Citizen spoke to the victim, Anurag Dubey, a blogger and fashion professional. “There was no fault of mine and the constable assaulted me because I was simply talking to a trans woman and was made an easy target probably because of the way I express myself and my distinct appearance and the certain flamboyant way of dressing.”

“I have piercings and colored hair so I usually have been targeted by the police. Many times in the past also I have been stopped and they did ask for my number and address and asked questions like where am I going, why do I look this way and basically I have been sexualised several times because of my appearance.”

The Citizen spoke to one of the friends of the victim, R Madhu Mita, a fashion professional from Tamil Nadu, who was also present that night. “ Because of my lack of Hindi speaking skills, I was mistaken as a Nigerian by the Delhi cops and had to face the stereotypes associated with the same.”

“Basically on June 6 we were in the Summer House Café and after a while we booked our cab back around 11.30pm. We were simply walking towards the street and one of the friends, the victim, happened to bump into one of his acquaintance, who was a trans woman. My friend, Anurag just went over and hugged her. Suddenly the constable out of nowhere starts beating him. Initially for the first few seconds I was completely frozen. My mind and my body was frozen. I did not understand what was happening because we did not even do anything provocative or something which would induced such a reaction. The other two friends of ours were completely shaken and sacred. The kind of past experiences against the policing of the gay people have put them in such a state of fear that they just did not want to fight back; rather they would just get beaten up and walk home.”

“But the friend of mine who was beaten up and myself, we are not the people who would give up. So we both started screaming and yelling but all the passersby stood by watching the whole drama unfold but nobody came forward. The constable who actually had beaten up my friends had vanished and ran away and fled the scene and the other bunch of cops tried to pacify us and told us to forget everything and go back to our places. They did not anticipate that we would react. The cops started refusing to name or recognise the constable when we demanded they reveal his identity so we can lodge a complaint.”

“Suddenly when my friend started clicking pictures of the jeep, the cops got agitated and angry and then caught my friend by the collar and shoved him into the jeep. So two of my friends went to the police station and one of my friend’s father came to rescue them. The police told the father that these people were creating a public nuisance but we will not file any charges if they delete the pictures. And the father had to also write an apology letter. Even in the police station my friends were made fun of because of the way they were looking and the police passed many harsh and hurtful comments.”

“Next day we did not want to give up and posted the whole incident and ranted on Twitter and social media and so many friends, family, activists, acquaintances reached out to us and retweeted the posts and made it viral. So the other day the ACP of South reached out to me and was being very humble and supportive and invited us to his office. We had a talk about the whole situation and he told us to take our time and lodge a complaint.So my friend will be lodging the complaint soon. He also invited us to deliver a sensitization class to explain to the cops who had done this.”

“I would be delivering the class surely because I never restricted myself to the cultural barriers but when people are so profiled it really hurts a lot and nobody needs to be treated and discriminated this way. The cops rather than anything else are very ignorant and not aware of people with different cultural and sexual backgrounds and put us all under a stereotypical category. They need to be make aware of because in today’s world there is no excuse for anyone to be racist or to treat people inappropriately.”

The Citizen contacted the Hauz Khas Area- Police station but they refused to comment.

The Citizen also spoke to a student of Delhi University who said, “The idea of two gender and sexes are deeply rooted in mainstream population and so is heteronormativity. Any deviation from it is almost considered as blasphemy that is often backed up under the garb of religion. Queerphobia, again, doesn't include active forms of violence but also takes place in subtle ways for instance the way lesbians are fetishized, the stereotyped idea about gay people in popular media or the simple dismissal of people's sexuality in everyday life which makes it harder to come out.”

“We're still fighting for 377 when it's 2018, a law that set in place decades ago. Institutionalised oppression and discrimination of openly gay people is another reason they're afraid to come out. Taken the recent incident in Delhi where a gay person was harassed for no reason at all shows how they're at the receiving end of violence. There are queer collectives at the collective/university level but queer people are considered a minority and thus ostracized.”