LGBT community members targeted through dating site

Misuse of a gay dating site www.planetromeo.com has come to fore, leading to concern among the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community here. At least three complaints of financial exploitation and forced sex has been registered with Samapathik Trust through its helpline.

Coordinator of the Trust Bindumadhav Khire said he has notified the Pune police social security cell about he complaint. The Trust works for the legal rights of LGBT community.

"We have received complaints from closeted gays who are facing financial exploitation or are forced into unwanted sex while seeking dates on www.planetromeo.com. The pattern in these cases is that when a victim becomes a member of this gay dating site, some men use this site to get in touch with the victim, establish rapport with him and subsequently demand financial favours. They then steal cash and valuables from the victim's house or forcibly try to have sex with the victim (sometimes without protection)," he said.

"Since the victims are closeted (their parents, friends and others do not know they are gay) they are afraid to approach the police. We believe this is just a tip of the iceberg and many such incidents may be happening. Unless victims approach the police, they will not get justice and the perpetrators will continue with their crimes," he said.

"We would like to warn gay men that while consensual, private sex between two adults is legal (Refer Judgment of Naz Foundation India v/s Government of India, Delhi High Court 2009), due to their vulnerability of not being 'Out', they run the risk of sexual/financial exploitation. They should be careful of whom they trust," Khire added.

Khire told Newsline that the 1,600-member Trust implements two projects of the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Organisation (MSACS) and callers can ask for assistance or submit their grievances through its helpline number 09763640480 on Mondays between 7 pm and 8 pm.

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