The 'infamous' Indian gay rights activist Harish Iyer works for a number of socio-cultural issues, but over the last month, he has turned into a 'Messenger of Love.'
Iyer is the host of "Gaydio", the first radio show dedicated to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) issues in India, where homosexuality is a taboo and gay sex can be punished with up to 10 years in jail.
"As an activist, it is in my DNA to stand up for a cause," Iyer, 38, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"You hear heart-warming love stories during your activism, but you are busy being the saviour. But on this show, I look at the softer side," said Iyer.
The weekly show on commercial radio channel Ishq, which means love in Urdu, was launched in mid-July and is aired every Sunday in Mumbai, New Delhi, and Kolkata. Ishq is airing over FM frequency 104.8 MHz.
After fighting for the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community, Harish is now playing radio jockey for a show called Gaydio- a complete show dedicated to acknowledging LGBT issues in India.
Gaydio is a progressive step taken towards encouraging people to come out with their sexuality and share their love stories with the world.
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Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code bans "sex against the order of nature", which is widely interpreted as homosexual sex, and transgender people face widespread discrimination even though the Supreme Court has enshrined a person's right to identify as a transgender.
Iyer's guests on the two-hour Sunday show included a Sikh-Muslim male couple who spoke about how they met, their coming-out experience and still going strong after 12 years.
In another episode, a mother spoke with her son's ex-boyfriend and in the latest broadcast, a heterosexual man and his transgender wife shared their story.
Iyer came into limelight in 2015 when his mother posted a "groom wanted" matrimonial advertisement in a leading English-language newspaper. According to the Indian government, there are 2.5 million gay people who have declared their sexuality to the health ministry.
Due to the fear of discrimination, many individuals conceal their identity and Gaydio is widely seen by many as a step towards breaking the shackles of stereotypical thinking of the society at large.
Shivangini Jajoria, national operations head at Ishq, said the radio station wants to break down boundaries and feature all kind of relationships.
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