The High Court of Kerala in its Order has asked the state police to act on the complaints of cyberbullying against the queer community and take action accordingly.
IN a plea alleging a concerted hate campaign against the queer community in the state, the High Court of Kerala has asked the state government and police administration to look into that matter and take appropriate action.
The petition was filed by a non-profit organisation Dhisha, its vice-President Anagh and trans woman model Daya Gayathri, alleging that the non-profit non-governmental organisation (NGO) Youth Enrichment Society Kerala is engaged in derogatory remarks and hate speech against the queer community on social media.
Youth Enrichment Society Kerala, which goes by the acronymYES Kerala, refers to queerness as “wokeism” on itsInstagram page. Certain social media posts of the NGO refer to queer people as the “rainbow mafia”.
Anagh told The Leaflet that YES Kerala is carrying out a malicious disinformation crusade against the queer community in educational institutions in the name of an “awareness campaign”.
He said: “They have units in several colleges. They are engaged in ‘counselling’ queer people telling them that their sexual orientation is a mental illness.”
Clarifying the context in which the petition was filed, Anagh said: “During the 11th Kerala Pride, I was holding a kid of a trans man who brought their child for the pride. I took a photo and posted it on my Instagram [account]. They [YES Kerala] took the photo and sent a petition to the Chief Minister of Kerala asking not to allow children to [participate in the] pride parades. They called me a paedophile. That was the reason I filed a petition.”
Anagh said that this is just one instance of the hate campaign and misinformation spread against the queer community.
He told The Leaflet that during the 12th Kerala Pride at Malappuram, constant attempts were made by YES Kerala to block the event.
He added that during this year’s pride parade, YES Kerala had put up hoardings with his photos and derogatory remarks across localities in the Malappuram district. The hoardings were ultimately removed by the municipality on their request.
“On the second day of the parade, they came up with YES Kerala flags and were arrested by Kerala police because we filed a complaint of being threatened against them before the ministry of social justice, Kerala and they gave us full protection,” Anagh stated.
He added that on the same day, YES Kerala conducted a one-day seminar on how queerness is against Indian culture and that it is a mental illness.
“After the end of the queer pride, they sprayed sanitiser in the streets,” Anagh concluded.
The court acknowledged that the hate speech and campaign was a “very serious issue” and warrants the attention of the state government and the Kerala police.
In its Order, the court pointed out that in cyberspace, one’s reputation could easily be “attacked” and denigrated and the “perpetrators believe that they can do so without any accountability”.
In this context, the court said: “This has to necessarily change because, in a civilised world, the authorities are to acknowledge the issues involved and to take necessary actions, otherwise, it is possible that certain sections would be subjected to great prejudice.”
In the context of cyberbullying, Justice Devan Ramachandran of the high court remarked: “Every citizen has a right to live, which is equal and less to no other. These rights are constitutionally provided and protected and cannot be attenuated or suppressed by any person who may have propagandist ideas or deleterious philosophies to follow.”
The court Ordered the government pleader to seek instructions from state authorities to look into the issue and take action accordingly.
The Kerala police have been asked to take necessary measures and file an action-taken report after three weeks.