Chennai: Before committing suicide, a 19-year-old boy who hailed from Mumbai, put up a social media post about the harassment he had suffered around him due to his sexuality.

His Facebook post said, “Everyone knows I am a boy. But the way I walk, think and talk is like a girl. People in India do not like that. Please do not blame my family. Help them. We are poor. I love my mom, dad and sister. I thank them for supporting me. It is not my fault that I was born gay.”

Minutes after Avinshu Patel uploaded the post on July 2, around 10 pm he switched off his phone and the very next day, his body was found on the beach near his resident by the locals.

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As per reports, Avi, as called by his friends, used to work at a salon, following the incident which the spa helped his family travel to Chennai to take his body back to Mumbai.

“Avinshu had gone to the mall earlier in the day and sounded happy when he spoke to a friend on phone. However, two hours later he called the same friend and told him he is going to end his life.

He sent me a text around 2.30 afternoon saying he was at a mall with a friend. They had gone out for lunch. Just two hours later he called me and told me he wanted to end his life. He was crying.” Avinshu’s friend Ishaan Mastry told New Indian Express.

Avinshu’s friend told the news website said that he told him he had taken poison. “But did not explain the reason for the drastic decision. He just hung up. I tried calling him back, several times, but there was no answer. At around 10 in the night, he put up that Facebook post, after which his phone was switched off.”

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Post this, Mastry even contacted the salon Avi used to work in, they tried to reach out as well, only in vain. The next day a cop answered the call once Avi’s body was found.

“He had been working with the spa for three months. Since he was talented he was given advanced training to become a nail artist. He was not facing any problems at the workplace.” police said.

Even though section 377 was has been struck down, the LGBTQIA+ community still faces harassment and molestation. It has been better for some and for some it has still been the same. People have faced discrimination, lynchings and have attempted suicides because of the same.

Studies show that sexual minority youth were more than three times as likely to attempt suicide as heterosexual peers.

Researchers report in JAMA Paediatrics pooled data of 35 studies and found that Transgender youth were at highest risk, nearly six times as likely to attempt suicide as heterosexual peers.

LGBT activists say that despite the Supreme Court decriminalising homosexuality in 2018, members of the community still face discrimination. Speaking to the New Indian Express, C Moulee, founder of Queer Chennai Chronicles, said, Every queer person faces harassment. Section 377 may have been struck down, but it remains a judgment. It has not changed people’s mentality or our everyday lives.

Not many organisations have anti-discrimination policies to provide LGBT+ individuals safe spaces, C Moulee said.

Countries abroad are trying to make the lives of the LGBTQIA+ community better, not only the authorities but common people too. What we as Indians need to understand is that nobody can change the way a person chooses to be, be it their sexuality or their choices. It is not harming anybody. We as a nation need to come out of our taboo zone and accept the way people are. Asking them to change is abnormal, because they, whoever they are, accepting them and loving them for who they are, that is normal. They are humans, they have their choices, it’s their life. Instead of making them feel abandoned, let’s make them feel inclusive because they are a part of us. They are us. Let’s stop judging or being after people for their choices in religion, sexuality, or be it anything. Let’s be Indians and be known for our vast inclusiveness of people and their choices. Let’s be Humans and treat them like one too.

Helpline numbers

If you are feeling suicidal, or are facing bullying, or require help, you can contact any of the following helpline numbers

1) Sneha suicide prevention centre 044-24640050

2) Queerythm can be reached on 9745545559 in English, Malayalam, and Tamil

3) Members of LGBTQIA can find help at iCall by dialling 022-25521111

4) Sahay is 24X7 LGBT helpline can be reached at the toll-free number 1800-2000-113

5) Sahodari is a helpline for the transgender community, dial 76397 41916 to reach them

6) Sahodaran works with LGBTQIA+ people in Tamil Nadu – 98418 65423 or 044 23470486

7) Orinam, an all-volunteer LGBTIQA+ collective based in Chennai, can be reached at 98415 57983

8) PCVC provides crisis intervention services and long term rehabilitative services for survivors of family and interpersonal violence. Contact: 044 4311 1143

9) In Delhi, the LGBTQ community can contact Delhi Commission for Women as they have set up a special cell within the rights body.

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