Bollywood is full of ‘closet gays’, actress claims

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

An iconic Bollywood actress has claimed that a huge number of India’s leading men are in the closet.

Bollywood – the nickname for the Indian film industry based in Mumbai – is known its often flamboyant but traditional stories, with an even stronger focus than in the West on heteronormative romance plots.

However, one of the industry’s biggest actresses, India’s Got Talent judge Kirron Kher, has claimed that men often hide their sexuality to get ahead.

She told the Mumbai Mirror: “Bollywood is filled with closeted gays who pretend to be straight. It will take a long time for people to be open about the issue. The change definitely needs to start with our film industry.”

Ms Kher – who won a seat in the Indian Parliament last year – has campaigned strongly against the colonial-era law criminalising sodomy, which the country’s Supreme Court put back into force in December 2013.

She told the newspaper: “There are many in power who are against Section 377 but there are also those who support it.

“The first thing I would like to do is introduce educational programs which will help people understand the scientific and medical history of homosexuality. This will eradicate the stereotype that men have a choice in deciding their sexual preferences.”

The actress added: “I hosted the talk show Purushkshetra that discussed alternative sexuality for the first time on Indian television.

“Even thought the show only aired for a short duration, it focussed on homosexuality and women in a patriarchal society like ours.

“I have been supportive of the LGBT community since the very beginning. Why should anyone be against it?”

Earlier this year, the chairman of India’s Law Commission condemned the country’s Supreme Court for re-criminalising homosexuality.

Attempts by campaigners to reverse the Supreme Court ruling have so far failed.

So far prosecutions under the law have remained rare – although seven men were arrested under suspicion of breaking Section 377 in Bangalore last summer.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the law as “intolerant” earlier this year.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party said: “We are for decriminalising homosexuality. That is the progressive way forward.”