If You Think India's Multi-national Companies Can't Be Homophobic, Think Again

A 25-year-old engineer from Mumbai resorted to suicide because he was being regularly taunted at work over his sexuality

While reading down of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code pushed India’s fight for LGBTQ rights ahead, it also brought to focus several cases of homophobic bullying. In another recent instance, a 25-year-old engineer from Mumbai resorted to suicide because he was being regularly taunted at work over his sexuality.

Aniket Patil, who was also an MBA graduate and worked for a multinational company in Powai, killed himself late last month. According to recent reports, his family was checking his suitcase a few days after the cremation in which he had left a suicide note. In the note, he wrote that he was being harassed for being gay.

Though his family reportedly denied him being and called him a “simple and religious” person, his father said that he was being “tortured” by his colleagues and his bosses who would call him gay repeatedly. Dilip Patil told Mumbai Mirror,

“He was fed up of the ugly comments. He also complained to the HR, but to no avail. On June 24 he called his mother and said he was going to resign from the company.”

aniket patil

The FIR reportedly stated,

“There was a three-page note in which he narrated his ordeal. He stated clearly that he was taunted and teased over his sexuality. His colleagues called him gay. Three days before committing suicide, Aniket told his mother he was going to quit his job.”

One of many recent incidents

Earlier this month, a 20-year-old nail artist from Maharashtra died by drowning in Chennai as a result of homophobic bullying. In the two suicides notes he wrote on Facebook, Avinshu Patel expressed that he was constantly bullied and called ‘hijra’ and ‘bailya’ for being effeminate. In April 2018, a teenage student from a girls’ school in Chennai was allegedly censured, verbally abused and reportedly called a ‘prostitute’ by several teachers for writing in a social media post that her crush was another girl. In December 2018, a 22-year-old transgender police officer allegedly attempted suicide after being bullied for being transgender by co-workers.


Unsafe workspaces for LGBTQ employees

Though some companies like Swiggy and Citi have taken initiatives to promote gender equality at the workplace, a vast number of LGBTQ employees are reported to be harassed at work because of their sexuality. Many organisations which have Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) policy are reportedly heteronormative. According to Srini Ramaswamy, co-founder of Pride Circle which battles for workplace inclusion, there is no quick-fix solution for the inclusion of LGBTQ people at the workplace. He told The Wire,

“Inclusion takes a great deal of effort. To create a culture where everyone feels they belong requires action, patience and a long-term plan. While there is plenty of research on the benefits of diversity and its positive impact on the bottom-line, that aspect is either missed out or gets relegated to the bottom of the to-do list.”


If you or a person you know is contemplating suicide, please consider contacting these helplines:

Sahaay — 1800-2000-133
Sahay is India’s first 24X7 LGBT helpline set up in support of The Humsafar Trust and aims to answer psychological and health-related queries

Roshni — +914066202000
Roshni trust aims to create awareness and eradicate the stigma attached to mental health issues.

Sneha Foundation — +914424640050
Sneha suicide prevention centre is operational 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.

Cooj — +918322252525
Cooj aides in aiding people to cope with distress and is operational between 1pm and 7pm on Monday-Friday.