Indian J Sex Transm Dis Indian J Sex Transm Dis
Official Publication of the Indian Association for the Study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Indian J Sex Transm Dis
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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 29  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 59-62

Homosexuality in India

Department of Dermatology and STD, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Pondicherry - 605 006, India

Correspondence Address:
Devinder Mohan Thappa
Department of Dermatology and STD, JIPMER, Pondicherry - 605 006
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0253-7184.48725

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Homosexuality can be described as the orientation and inclination of a person to have sexual relations with a person of his or her own sex. The clustering of Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) cases among male homosexuals in the initial phase of the HIV epidemic in the USA and a few other Western countries led to a misleading notion that the disease afflicted only "reckless" male homosexuals and it was often referred to as the 'gay plague' or 'gay cancer', 'gay' being the current vogue word for homosexuals. Very little is known about the practice of homosexuality in contemporary India. According to Ashok Row-Kavi, a self-acclaimed homosexual activist, the number of exclusively or predominantly homosexual men in India may be over 50 million. A vast majority of them are married and living with their wives. A culturally identifiable group known by the Urdu term "hijra" lives in most parts of India and are known to depend, at least partly, for their livelihood on working as male prostitutes. Most hijras are castrated males and dress as females. In addition to a large section of the hijra community, there are many full-time or part-time male prostitutes in India. Some of them live in red-light areas of metropolitan cities; many seek male clients by offering massage services in parks, beaches, hotels, and houses. Male prostitution is increasingly visible in India. In Delhi there are as many as twenty "agencies" offering "handsome masseurs" in the classifieds of the newspapers (Hindustan Times).

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