SOCIETY Valentine's Day will see the launch of a special personals portal for the gay community, one of the first of its kind in India, reports NUPUR SHARMA

In a culture where we are somehow more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands, homosexuality continues to be largely stigmatized. Come Valentine's Day and Delhi will witness the worldwide launch of www.lgbtpartner.com. It is being billed as India's first comprehensive personals portal for the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bi-Sexual Transvestite) community. No doubt a welcome entrant coming not too long after the Delhi High Court judgement on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The latter as we know is a piece of legislation introduced during the British rule of India that criminalized sexual activity “against the order of nature”. The section was read down to decriminalize same-sex behaviour among consenting adults in a historic judgement by the High Court of Delhi on 2 July 2009. The matter is now pending final verdict from the Supreme Court.

Sanjeev Kumar, founder and CEO of the website says, “It will be our gift to the LGBT community on the day of love – Valentine's Day. Our objective is simple — to provide all people with a superior matchmaking experience by expanding the opportunities available to meet potential life partners. There maybe someone just right for you in another corner of the world who you would not run into in the normal course of your life. We hope that our service will touch the lives of millions of people worldwide.” He explains that the idea got impetus after the encouragement given by the Delhi High Court ruling. Highlighting the fact that this is a bona fide avenue to facilitate contact between members of the community, Kumar said he is committed to supporting people's choices vis-a-vis lifestyle and sexual orientation. The portal will feature only verified profiles and offer many interactive features. These include a chat facility, blog and a section to enlist upcoming gay community events.

Ritupurna Baweja, a Delhi-based gay rights activist welcomes this development and says, “Internationally, dating websites for the gay community are nothing new. In India underground LGBT networks have existed for a while. I cannot comment on this specific website till it is launched but in general openness about one's sexual orientation is to be welcomed. For too long we have lived in denial and shame.”

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino had famously said, “In an expanding universe, time is on the side of the outcast. Those who once inhabited the suburbs of human contempt find that without changing their address they eventually live in the metropolis.” In India, one of those addresses could be www.lgbtpartner.com, a place like home where diverse personalities are embraced and no one feels ‘queer' for being different.

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