“Why are we invisible?” she asked. “Because we have made ourselves invisible? Or have we been made invisible? I don’t want to be seen as a criminal. That is what this is about.”
In Bilaspur, a sun-cracked city in central India, Rajesh Yadav, slim with sharp cheek bones, said she had been gang-raped four times in less than one year, beaten with a brick and nearly thrown out of a moving vehicle because of her sexuality.
“I would beg them to leave me every time, but they would beat me and use violence against me and then rape me,” said Ms. Yadav, 25, who identifies as a gay cross-dresser and prefers female pronouns. “If I start telling you my story, several nights would pass.”
A., a young gay man who asked to be identified only by his first initial, shared a similar account.
When A., 22, made plans to meet a man from an instant messaging application in eastern India, he was greeted instead by two different men, one of them in a police uniform, who drugged and raped him, he said. Afterward, one of the men took a selfie with A. “I was afraid he would blackmail me,” he said.
Neither of them considered approaching the police to report the crimes, fearing the consequences of doing so.
“Section 377 is cruel,” A. said. “It is being misused to harm people like me. It makes people hide.”