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After the decriminalization of homosexuality, is India on the verge of a mass coming out?
(Blogmensgo, gay blog of October 28, 2018) The gay dating website PlanetRomeo has conducted a survey among its members in India about the prospects and expectations after decriminalization of homosexuality on September 6, 2018. Of the 3,392 respondents, no less than 68% intend to visit the upcoming Gay Pride! Even if the PlanetRomeo study has serious methodological shortcomings (which the gay social network does not conceal either), it nevertheless offers an indication of the situation in India after decriminalisation.
According to Wikipedia, India is the country with the second largest population in the world, namely 1.3 billion people in 2016. PlanetRomeo reports that statistically, the LGBT+ population in the area should be around 42 million people, or about 3.28% of the total population. However, the last table in the survey indicates an LGBT+ population of 34 million people, which, according to PlanetRomeo, would represent 4% of the total Indian population – but this calculation is obviously wrong.
The second methodological shortcoming is the composition of the 3,392 respondents to the questionnaire. They are members of the gay PlanetRomeo network, i.e. in principle homo-, bi- or transsexual people, but no lesbians. This reduces the LGBT sample to a GBT sample that statistically represents 51% of the Indian LGBT+ population (PlanetRomeo does not indicate where this number comes from). In addition, the age group of 26 to 35 year olds is overrepresented with almost half of the respondents.
The final methodological bias is inherent to any survey of this kind: the sample only reflects PlanetRomeo members, so it is not necessarily representative of the actual LGBT population.
… but very promising figures for the LGBT community
However, the PlanetRomeo survey is the first to provide a psychosocio-statistical overview of the LGBT+ population in India.
Soon 2 million coming-outs?
Only 6% of respondents said they were fully out of the closet, about 50% lived completely in the closet, and the rest were only partially out. 45% do not intend to come out, but more than 10% already plan to come out as homo-, bi- or transsexual. However, the survey does not indicate whether this decision was taken before or after the decriminalisation of homosexuality at the beginning of September 2018.
Let's assume that LGBT people make up 3.28% of the Indian population, that this LGBT population includes 51% GBT men, and that the PlanetRomeo sample is representative. Then we would have 21.42 million gays, bisexuals and transsexuals, of whom 10% plan to come out soon. That would be 2.14 million people, not counting those who would be added in the long run!
A lot of fake straight marriages
Two thirds of the interviewees are not married. Since marriage in India can only be heterosexual, 33% of respondents married a woman. This is more than 28% of respondents whose wives do not know about their husband's homosexuality (or bisexuality) and less than 5% of respondents whose wives know about their sexual orientation.
Of the 33% of respondents who said they were married, more than 70% have no intention of coming out. On the other hand, 28% of already married gays, bisexuals and transsexuals think about an outing. While about 24% believe this might be an option, about 3% intend to disclose their homosexuality or bisexuality.
Assuming 21.42 million gays, bisexuals and transsexuals in India, 7.07 million would be married, including 212,100 determined to come out of the closet – an impressive number in any case.
Most figures in the survey seem rather harmless and not surprising, with the exception of this one: The decriminalization of homosexuality will, according to PlanetRomeo, drive 28% of 18-25 year olds to fight for LGBT rights, unless they already do anyway. However, it is not clear what exactly is meant when someone becomes an LGBT activist.
In this survey, it will be difficult to distinguish between immediate or volatile elements and permanent or sustainable elements. In any case, despite its imperfections, the PlanetRomeo survey gives rise to hope for a more modern and open India.