“Kisey Chunenge? Gau Rakhsa Ya Gay Rakhsa” in Hindi meaning, “Who will you choose? Cow Protection or Gay Protection?” The word in Hindi for cow and gay are differentiated just by a syllable.
The cow is worshipped as a sacred animal by Hindus who make up 85 percent of the 1.2 billion people in India.
These car stickers ask people to vote for Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP, Indian peoples party) prime ministerial candidate. The sticker carries the picture of Modi and the BJP’s party symbol of the lotus.
The elections will primarily be fought between the Congress party and the BJP, the main opposition party that media say is likely to defeat the ruling Congress and form the next federal government.
The BJP has opposed any move to nullify the Supreme Court’s re-criminalizing consensual same-sex relations, dealing a huge setback to scrap Section 377, the colonial-era law that defines same-sex relations as “unnatural” and punishable by up to life imprisonment.
The Supreme Court in January chose to retain the law which the Delhi High Court in 2009 had decriminalized.
The Congress party promises to amend the current law to ensure consensual same-sex relations between adults are not criminalized.
Conversely, BJP party chief Rajnath Singh went to the extent of saying, “Gay sex is not natural and we cannot support something which is unnatural.”
The BJP is the political arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, national volunteers´ corps) considered the umbrella forum of Hindu organizations working to make India a Hindu theocratic nation. Almost all BJP members belong also to the RSS.
The RSS has also come out with anti-gay posts in its mouthpiece “Organiser” and made it clear that it will oppose gay rights.
The stickers are in keeping with this stand and are taken out by a group called Namocars. “Na” and “Mo” are the first two alphabets of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
Namocars describes itself as an independent youth group campaigning for Modi and BJP in India’s national elections for 543 seats in the lower house of parliament that began April 7 and will continue until May 12 with results expected on May 16.
Previous posters and stickers by the group had quotes such as “Vote for India, Vote for Modi” along with Modi’s picture. The group despite claiming to be independent had a promotional stall at the BJP’s national council meet to launch itself in Delhi.
While BJP and the RSS have opposed gay rights in India, Modi has remained silent.
However, the use of Modi’s image on such anti-gay stickers and posters hints at the stand he is likely to take given that he is a RSS member and shares the dais and has support from Baba Ramdev, a rabid Hindu “holy man” who has consistently made anti-gay comments and claims of having a gay-cure.
“If Modi cannot take a stand when his own party men make caustic homophobic remarks, it is a threat to humanity. His silence implies that he stands against the tenets of equal rights for all citizens,” said gay rights activist Harish Iyer reacting to the stickers.