Gay debate in cheat case - Filmed by wife, techie held under Section 377

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 30.10.14
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Bangalore, Oct. 29: A 32-year-old techie has been arrested in Bangalore under Section 377, which criminalises “unnatural sex”, after his wife said in a police complaint that he was gay and submitted video evidence obtained by filming him secretly at home.

The woman, a dentist, said that for six months after their wedding in November 2013 the couple lived in different cities — he was working with an IT major in Mysore and she in Bangalore. He got transferred to Bangalore in May and they were living together since.

But he slept alone in the second bedroom, the wife’s police complaint said. “My husband never showed interest in sex,” she stated in the complaint. “He didn’t even agree to my advice to seek medical help (for the lack of sexual urge),” she further said.

The woman said she grew suspicious after observing his habits and mannerisms, police sources said. Neighbours confirmed that he had male visitors when she was away, the complaint said. “He never gave a satisfactory answer to my questions about the male visitors,” the complaint added.

She then installed a spy camera in the living room of their rented home in the Malleshwaram neighbourhood and left for her parents’ place in Tumkur, 75km from here, for a week from October 1. When the woman returned on October 7, she found footage of her husband engaged in sexual acts with an unknown male, her complaint to the police said. The woman also gave the police a CD containing the recording.

The man, who has his roots in Thiruvananthapuram but was raised in Abu Dhabi because his parents were living there, was arrested a week ago and is in judicial custody.

Deputy commissioner of police (central) Sandeep Patil said Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was invoked on the basis of the video evidence provided by his wife. Under the law, the maximum punishment for “unnatural sex” which includes gay sex is life imprisonment. The man has also been booked for cheating under Section 420.

The case coincides with the trial of Shrien Dewani, an Indian-origin Briton who is accused of having his wife Anni murdered on their honeymoon because he was bisexual and wanted out of the marriage. Dewani, 34, is believed to have married Anni in Mumbai in October 2010, because of family pressure.

Although the Delhi High Court had in July 2009 ruled gay sex as legal, the Supreme Court in December 2013 overturned that order and said it was an offence under Section 377. Since then this is the second case being reported from Bangalore, which has a large LGBT community, lawyer-activist Danish Sheikh of the Alternative Law Forum said.

“A medical doctor who was blackmailed with mobile video footage by men who he had sex with was arrested early this year,” Sheikh said. The five men were subsequently arrested for blackmail, and they along with the doctor were also booked under Section 377. The case is now in court.

“A major concern is about this man’s (the techie’s) safety in custody since he is said to be gay and lodged with other males,” said Sheikh. “Besides, this is exactly the kind of claim we made before the Supreme Court (while arguing against 377). Here’s a classic case of a third party (the wife) accusing her husband of alleged gay sex,” he said.

Asked if the police could have slapped the lighter charge of adultery (Section 497), which carries a maximum jail term of five years, Sheikh said only Section 377 specifically deals with gay sex. “Adultery is usually invoked in cases of sex beyond marriage with the opposite sex,” the lawyer said.

The woman also wants her in-laws to be made party to the case, saying in her complaint that they would have known their son was gay but still arranged his marriage and kept her in the dark. “We have to further investigate the case to establish if his parents knew about his sexual orientation before he was married to the complainant,” Patil said.