In a hotly contested election where every vote will count, the scramble among political parties to scrounge for votes is understandable. Yet, what would you make of a party that hates a community but wants their votes? The BJP had opposed any move to nullify Supreme Court's order re-criminalizing consensual sex among consenting adults, dealing a huge setback to any move to scrap or dilute Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Party chief Rajnath Singh went to the extent of saying, "Gay sex is not natural and we cannot support something which is unnatural."
This is why the gay community across the country has expressed surprise to find a BJP ad asking for votes on the popular gay social media dating website grindr. The ad which will obviously lead to to a lot of red faces in the BJP, appears at the bottom of the page has both the party' lotus symbol and their prime-ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's photograph displayed prominently. It exhorts voters to vote BJP to stop price rise.
"This exposes the party's hypocrisy," guffawed India's pioneering gay rights activist Ashok Row Kavi. "So you want our votes and not us. I'm glad this has happened. The country will finally know the true face of falsehood of the party."
He's not alone. Many from the community have taken to social media sites like facebook and twitter to make their disgust known. Counselling psychologist Deepak Kashyap is one of them. "So, #BJP says it'd never support the "unnatural act" of homosexuality, but #NaMO has no qualms about asking for support on gay dating apps, like grindr! What a sham(e)!" he posted.
Linking most homophobia with an intense struggle with latent homosexuality Kashyap, the University of Bristol pass-out and equal rights activist for the LGBTQ community told dna, "Whatever makes you jump up in your chair, essentially makes you insecure about your own condition in some way or the other." According to him, similar results were shown in a research called 'Is Homophobia Associated with Homosexual Arousal?', by Georgia University published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
When reached for comment, the BJP's National IT head Arvind Gupta said, "I am not aware of such an ad being placed on this website. If this is indeed true we will take it up with the advertising agency responsible." BJP spokesperson and Lok Sabha candidate from New Delhi Meenakshi Lekhi too told dna, "This is the first I am hearing of such an advertisement," and added, "In the first instance it seems like a deliberate act of mischief in the poll season to embarrass our party."
Centre for Internet and Society, Executive Director Sunil Abraham felt the ad on grindr may have to do more with the lack of knowledge than anything else. "We find many ads by top Indian corporate brands on pirate websites. This happens because people are still not completely conversant with negotiating with advertising networks when it comes to websites."