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Radio Station for Gay Indians Faces Uphill Battle to Draw Listeners

in INDIA, 20/12/2013

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Indian law against homosexuality cannot be overturned except by Parliament, gay sex is illegal once again, making it that much harder for young gay, lesbian and transgender Indians to identify themselves as such. This makes the staff of Q Radio, the only Internet radio channel in India for the L.G.B.T. community, take their mission all the more seriously, even as the fledgling station risks the possibility of prosecution as talk show hosts and guests discuss topics like coming out of the closet.

On the day the Supreme Court ruled that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the measure that bans homosexuality, was constitutional, Q Radio had a series of discussions on whether the state has the right to pry into the sex lives of its individual citizens.

Though he has not consulted with a lawyer, Anil Srivatsa, who founded Radiowalla, a network based in Bangalore that hosts Q Radio, said the station’s 15 staff members have no intention of censoring themselves. “We are well within our rights to talk about the L.G.B.T. community,” he said. “And we will continue doing so, despite the Supreme Court ruling.” The idea behind Q Radio is to cater to the global Indian L.G.B.T. community by discussing issues specific to them and providing a voice to anyone who finds it difficult to speak up in traditional media, said Mr. Srivatsa.

He started the station after realizing the enormous potential of an untapped market. Q radio is the latest business venture that openly caters to gay consumers in India, following gay-friendly magazines, travel companies, hotels and an online bookstore in India. “The corporates are seeing the L.G.B.T. community as a potential market,” said Anjali Gopalan, coordinator at the Naz Foundation, which petitioned the Delhi High Court to overturn Section 377.

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