More than 30% of gay men in India are married to a woman, with the vast majority of their spouses having no clue about their husband’s sexuality.
At least that’s according to a survey of 3,392 Indians by Planet Romeo. The poll aimed to provide a glimpse into the LGBT+ community following the historic repeal of Section 377 in September, which legalised homosexuality.
With a population of 1.3 billion people, it’s estimated that there are about 42 million LGBT+ people in India.
The survey found that 33% of gay men are married to a woman and the wives of close to 30% do “not know I am gay.” (5% said they are married to a lesbian spouse.)
The high number of closeted gay married men is not surprising considering the until-recent 158-year ban on homosexuality in the country and the accompanying social and cultural stigma.
Around 40% of married and unmarried respondents said they had been pressured by their family to get married. Of those who are married, a whopping 28% are considering coming out to their spouses; this could equate to 1.6 million people who might come out.
“My ex-wife had evidence of me being gay and I was being threatened of being a criminal,” said one participant in the survey. “So I left the city where I was born and relocated with my kids. I feel free now, my kids know I’m gay and they love me for who I am.”
On an inspiring note, 28% of young people said they want to be activists, while 68% would like to attend a Pride event.
Around 50% of the LGBT+ people surveyed are out to some extent. Of these, around 25% have been verbally abused for being gay and around 12% have been physically attacked.
A significant number of participants, 26%, said that the repeal of Section 377 will have a “major impact” on their lives.
“Considering that most of our members live in big cities, gays living in the smaller villages are under-represented,” commented Planet Romeo about the survey. “For example, the percentage of men coming out will be lower, but at the same time, the percentage of marriages must be much higher.”
To view the results of the survey, click here.