Young Man's Sexual Assault in UP Exposes Legal Voids in Male Sexual Assault Protection

The victim met the perpetrator named Karan on social media and was lured to a hotel on June 13th. There, Karan and three others raped and beat him, recording the assault and threatening to post it online unless he paid them.
Young Man's Sexual Assault in UP Exposes Legal Voids in Male Sexual Assault Protection

New Delhi- When discussing sexual assault, the common image is of a female victim and a male perpetrator. However, due to societal intersections of oppression, men, particularly queer men, can also fall victim. A recent, heartbreaking incident from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, highlights this harsh reality.

On June 14th, a 23-year-old young man tragically took his own life after reportedly being gang-raped by four men. This devastating event emphasizes the urgent need to recognize and address the vulnerabilities faced by all survivors of sexual violence, regardless of gender, which unfortunately is not the case.

The victim had initially befriended one of the accused, identified as Karan, through social media. Karan subsequently invited him to his residence in Chiluatal.

On 13th June, Karan allegedly brought the victim to a hotel, where he and three accomplices held the victim hostage, raped him, and beat him with a belt. They reportedly recorded the assault and threatened to post the footage online unless the victim paid them money.

The victim managed to file a complaint at the Shahpur Police Station, citing sections of the Indian Penal Code related to unnatural offences, extortion, criminal intimidation, and other relevant charges.

Later that night, the victim spoke with his nephew before allegedly taking his own life. His family discovered his body on the morning of 15th June and alerted the police.

Authorities have arrested three of the suspects: Karan alias Ashutosh Mishra (26), Devesh Rajnand (24), and Angad Kumar (21). The fourth suspect, Mohan Prajapati (20), remains at large.

An FIR has been filed under IPC section 377 and other laws related to forceful confinement, extortion and blackmail.

It is important to highlight the fact that starting 1st July, Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita will be replacing IPC. Following this replacement, the legal framework will no longer include provisions equivalent to Section 377, which criminalizes non-consensual sex between adults of all genders and orientations, as well as sexual offenses against animals.

Consequently, acts of homosexual rape will no longer considered illegal across India.

For those who are unaware, in 2018, the Supreme Court of India decriminalized consensual sex between homosexual couples, marking a significant step towards LGBTQ+ rights.

However, the court retained Section 377 in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for other purposes. This section continues to criminalize non-consensual sexual acts and offenses against animals, as well as sexual violence against men and transgender individuals.

Absence of a legislation makes things even more difficult, which will be faced by next month.

The Mooknayak talked to Jeet, who is a prominent queer rights activist about the issue with BNS, especially in regard to queer men.

“With BNS, the government has rejected parliamentary committee's recommendation to retain IPC 377, which is alarming,” he asserted.

According to the activist, by erasing IPC 377, the government is jeopardizing the safety of Indian citizens, particularly gay men and trans persons, who are more susceptible to sexual violence than cisgender adult men.

According to a report by the News Minute, senior lawyer and activist Vrinda Grover highlighted that the deletion of Section 377 would create a legal gap concerning protection against sexual violence for adult males and transgender individuals.

"The POCSO Act covers all individuals experiencing sexual violence up until the age of 18, and the Transgender Protection Act addresses violence against transgender individuals but in a relatively mild manner. Therefore, without a specific law, there remains no adequate legal recourse for men and transgender individuals facing sexual violence," she explained.

Taking a dig at the BJP government for not keeping the rights of the queer community in mind, Jeet further commented, “I hope this decision awakens gay men to the reality that the government is not only opposing their desire for equal rights but is also stripping away the existing protections they had.”

Why is it Difficult for Queer Men to Reach the Police Station?

Sexual assault affects individuals across all demographics, with queer men facing significant obstacles due to societal attitudes and institutional biases. These assaults are underreported, as many survivors fear disbelief, shame, or retaliation. In the queer community, additional stigma and discrimination further discourage reporting.

Traditional notions of masculinity, which promote strength and invulnerability, make it especially difficult for queer men to come forward. These attitudes, combined with homophobic misconceptions that male-on-male assault is less severe, contribute to silence around these incidents.

Barriers such as fear of outing, lack of trust in law enforcement, and the traumatic reporting process hinder queer men from seeking help. Those who do report often face inappropriate questioning and discrimination from police, compounding their trauma.

Jeet added that the police often mock and dehumanize men who attempt to report sexual assault and are frequently reluctant to file cases. In the rare instances when they do, IPC 377 was invoked, as it was the only legal provision addressing rape against men.

With this provision removed, he expressed deep concern about what justice will look like for survivors who dare to step into police stations.

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