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When we almost got arrested for being gay in Delhi

When we almost got arrested for being gay in Delhi

Here's the story about how we explored the underground gay scene in Delhi, and almost got arrested for being at a gay party.

Don't get us wrong, we absolutely fell in love with India.

But its government has had issues accepting its LGBTQ community over this past decade. It all started in 2009 when the Delhi High Court invalidated a very old law dating back to 1861 (Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code), which criminalises gay sex with up to 10 years in prison. The Indian Supreme Court then reintroduced this in 2013, but thankfully in September 2018, this anti-gay law was finally overturned in a landmark decision.

Today, being gay in India is no longer a crime, which is big news for the country's LGBTQ community.

We interviewed local boy Raj from Delhi anonymously who said that the former anti-gay laws were used by the authorities as a validation for all sorts of bullying and harassment of the LGBTQ community, in particular the Indian police who use it as a way to get bribes.

We experienced this first hand in Delhi when we were almost arrested in a gay club in Delhi in 2016 at a time when the anti-gay laws were in place. Read on to find out how we avoided jail time!

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gay scene in Delhi arrested in gay club
Policeman in Delhi

The gay scene of Delhi

Our first stop in India was the buzzing and chaotic city of Delhi. It was our entry point into the country and our base to visit the Taj Mahal.

As a big city with over 10 million, we were expecting it to have an active gay community. Unfortunately, most online resources about gay bars or clubs in Delhi were outdated.

Since 2013 when the Supreme Court made being gay illegal, there are no openly gay hangouts. If there were before, now they were closed down and everything forced underground.

One of our favourite mobile apps for our travels includes gay dating apps like Grindr and Hornet, which we use to connect and meet locals during our travels. Our experience in Delhi was a classic example of when we needed this. Using Grindr, we were able to tap into the scene and discover the venue of that week’s party: Knight by Castle 9 at Connaught Place.

So, dolled up and ready to party, we hit the town.

There is a fun underground gay scene to be found in Delhi
Dolled up with our friend Andrew and ready to hit the Delhi night life

The gay party itself was a lot of fun. It was heaving full of locals dancing and drinking, having a good time.

Just as we whipped out the selfie sticks to start capturing the evening, a burly bouncer quickly took us aside and sternly told us that all photography is strictly prohibited. They were only trying to protect their clientele who were naturally sensitive about their family or work finding out they'd been to a gay place.

Suddenly at around 1am the music stopped.

All the lights were switched off and window blinds pulled down.

Everybody was asked to stay inside the club, be silent and under no circumstances, go outside.

The police had arrived!

Everyone in the club was blazé about it. This happened at all their parties. It was just the way it had always been.

We, however were freaking out…

  • What if we have to go to some dodgy Indian prison cell?
  • What's the number of the UK/French embassy?
  • What are your rights if arrested in India?!

Our Indian friends reassured us, explaining the policemen were simply looking for a bribe from the promoters and would leave everyone else alone.

It was just the way it had always been.

Knight club by Castle sign gay party Delhi gay scene
The venue for the gay party when we were in Delhi

We waited for around 20 minutes. At one point one young guy tried to leave through the back door, but the burly bouncer smacked him and told him to wait inside to avoid antagonising the police.

Eventually the policemen’s bribes were settled and everyone was asked to leave via the back door, one by one, and go straight home.

No one got hurt. No one was arrested. And most shocking for us, nobody seemed to care!

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This was all part of an average gay night out in Delhi.

Although we were able to laugh it off afterwards, we were so shocked that this is what the Delhi LGBT community have to live with every day.

This would never happen in London!

Back home in London, or anywhere else in Western Europe or North America, this would never, ever in a million years happen!

Any police presence in Heaven or XXL would be to protect us from something, not for a bribe! Our Police even have their own float at London Pride and let us kiss them and take silly photos with them.

London is definitely much more gay friendly than India, at least for now
Sebastien the angel kissing one of our friendly policemen at London Gay Pride parade

We were just shocked that in India, the very people who are supposed to protect you are instead the ones you have to bribe to leave you alone.

We are so happy that the Indian Supreme Court has now finally repealed the awful Article 377 once and for all!

Should gay travellers boycott India?

On the contrary!

We strongly believe that gay travellers should not boycott travelling to India. If you're respectful of local customs, we think India is safe for gay travellers.

STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL

Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, voiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off our first booking.

As a foreigner you will be quite safe. No one wants any embassy issues, least of all the police. More importantly, going there as a gay traveller you would not only be helping to raise awareness with everyday folk that gays are like any other person, you would also be supporting your local sisters there.

And let’s face it, India has the potential to be very gay: with a population of over 1 billion, there's statistically over 100 million gay boys waiting to party with you!

Oh – and have you seen some of the carvings at religious places like the temples of Khajuraho?!

Delhi gay scene erotic carvings gay sex
Back in the old days, anal sex seemed to be the norm in India judging by these ancient temple carvings in Khajuraho

SEE MORE FROM OUR TRAVELS IN INDIA IN OUR VIDEO:

 

Happy travels are safe travels

We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.

This post may contain affiliate links which means if you make a purchase through one of these links, we will receive a small commission. Read our disclosure for more info.

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Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor, and author of the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times, Pink News, and Attitude Magazine. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practiced as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

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