Islamuddin, who heads the community–based organization and is a gay himself, said, “The tricity is estimated to have around 40,000 gays. With only a few homosexuals coming out in the open as regards their sexual preferences, it turns out that the gay population registered with State AIDS Control Society (SACS) is way lower than the figures arrived at by unofficial estimates.”
The community–based organization would be the first of its kind in the tricity catering to the gay population and advocating its rights besides spreading awareness about HIV. As Islamudddin added, “There are physically disabled HIV positive gays who comprise 8% of the gay population across the tricity. The objective of the organization is to involve gays as special educators for the disabled.”
According to official figures of the SACS, there are 1,000 gays in the city. “We have mapped 1,000 gays in the city and the number varies as they migrate from the city to Mohali or Panchkula,” said a SACS official.
Homosexuals feel that the archaic law should be amended or abolished as they are ostracized from the society and their own family. Pari, a gay who is pursuing MBA from Manipal University, has concealed his gay identity from his family. “The society does not accept us which makes it impossible for us to survive. Most of us meet at secret places late at night with a fear of being found out. Repeal of Section–377 of IPC could mean a lot to our freedom,” added Pari.
The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) estimates the number of men having sex with men (MSM) to be about 2.5 million. And 25% of these are HIV positive. Out of an estimate of 11 lakh population, the tricity has 40,000 gays. “Most of the members of this section of the community seldom use protection and are at risk of contracting HIV,” said Ashwani, associated with MSM, SACS, UT.
Source: Times of India