A 19-year-old woman was accosted by her neighbors in an eastern Indian town, tied to a tree, and beaten when they discovered her in bed with her female partner.
Sarmila Malla has been dating her girlfriend for six months, with both residing in Chandol, Odisha. According to The Times of India, a number of their neighbors were upset by what they considered the “immoral act” the two were committing by being in a lesbian relationship.
On May 24, the newspaper reports, the locals “found” Malla and her girlfriend sharing a bed, at which time they assaulted Malla.
“We beat up and tied Sarmila to a tree in our village as she is a lesbian. She is immoral and has besmirched the name of our village,” said Ganesh Pariba.
Ranjan Parida said he witnessed the brutal attack and was “appalled,” and concerned citizens called the police, who arrived on the scene and untied Malla. Police have opened an investigation, and those found guilty could face up to seven years in prison.
Malla said she and her girlfriend are “madly in love,” and added that her parents had attempted unsuccessfully to rescue her from the mob.
While India decriminalized gay sex last year, and sprinter Dutee Chand recently became the country’s first out athlete, the situation for the LGBTQ community remains perilous. Marriage equality has still not come to India, and it doesn’t appear as if it will anytime soon.
Last March, students at a girl’s school in Calcutta were forced to turn in written “confessions” saying they were lesbians. And in May of last year, an angry mob beat a transgender woman to death in Chandrayangutta over false child trafficking rumors.