In what is not the first such case, a transgender in Pune was allegedly denied entry into a mall. Sonali Dalvi claimed that she was barred from entering Phoenix Marketcity in Pune on the evening of March 15.
According to Sonali, the security guards refused to proceed with her security checks and one of the guards also said that the mall’s policy didn’t allow them to let transgenders enter the premises.
She also claimed,
“Later, a crowd gathered at the spot and asked the guards to let me go. However, one of them present there said I could enter, but have to refrain from going to the second and third floors. They kept me waiting for half an hour and kept giving me excuses. I have never been discriminated against in any public place so far.”
Her friend, Shyam Konnur, posted a video of the incident on Facebook.
Dalvi now plans to sue the mall for discriminating against her on the basis of her gender identity and sexual orientation. However, the mall authorities denied all the allegations and insisted that Dalvi was allowed to enter the mall premises after being asked for verification by the security guards.
This is not the first such incident of blatant discrimination carried out by malls and shopping complexes across India.
- In 2015, two transgenders in Hyderabad who went to a multiplex inside a mall to see a movie were initially stopped and asked to leave. It was only after arguing with the authorities for an hour that they were let in. The incident elicited anger from the LGBTQIA+ community on social media.
- Delhi-based model Rudrani Chettri who has set up India’s first modelling agency for transgenders was once barred from entering a mall. The security guard told her that she “wouldn’t get the clothes” for herself there.
Though at large, malls are not the only places which often discriminate against people on the basis of their gender identity and expression, some of them do disallow people on the basis of their appearance. Last year, a mall in Kolkata refused entry to a filmmaker for wearing a dhoti, stating that they didn’t allow people wearing dhoti and lungi to enter.
A mall is defined as a public place under Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003 which prohibits smoking in all public places. Even though a disco or a restaurant can deny entry if it wishes, under the law, malls cannot deny access to general public.