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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Man ostracised after sex change

10 July 2004 - India

Kolkata - A man who changed his sex to marry another man is facing social boycott and threats in Jhargram, West Bengal, where his sexuality is called "sinister". Somnath Banerjee took the name Manabi, after he underwent a sex operation, but a section of the townspeople says he is corrupting young minds. He married his male partner Abhijit Pahari. Their marriage reportedly has doubtful validity in India that doesn¹t recognise homosexuality or gay unions.

Trouble started when people saw Banerjee - now a woman - living with a man. To the angry townspeople, he was of "funny sexuality". "The first of the problems began with my landlord who started to conspire to evict me," Banerjee said. He was jeered on the streets, his house attacked by hoodlums and was locked out of his home by his landlord, who even "disconnected his waterlines".

"I went to police and civic authorities but received no help," said Banerjee. He said even local politicians ganged up against him. His worst blow came when Pahari was taken away by his family. A section of local people said Banerjee was carrying on "sinister and anti-social activities" and, finally, some branded him a witch. After knocking at the doors of police, Banerjee turned to the state women¹s commission, which approached the district authorities, who finally warned Banerjee's landlord against disturbing him. But Banerjee remains apprehensive.

Krittivas Mukherjee

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