Last edited: June 20, 2004

Anti-Gay Extremists Torch Theater Playing Lesbian Film, June 14, 2004

By Newscenter Staff

New Delhi—An angry mob set fire to a movie theater on Monday where a Bollywood film with a lesbian theme was showing.

The theater, in the northern town of Varanasi, was showing the film “Girlfriend” There were no injuries but damage to the building was extensive.

The militant Hindu group Shiv Sena claimed responsibility.

The same group attacked theatergoers in Bombay Sunday.

Nearly 100 people threw stones and burned an effigy of two women. Windows at the theater were smashed and posters destroyed.

The theater continued the movie under heavy police guard but cancelled future showings.

Gay themes have been slowly working their way into Bollywood films over the past few years, but each time the movies have been met with opposition.

“Fire”, a 1998 Hindi-language film that portrayed a love affair between two women, provoked the wrath of hardline Hindus who claimed it promoted “the alien practice of lesbianism and hurt Indian culture.”

The films are still tame by American standards. India has strict censorship that prevents on-screen nudity and profanity, and sexual acts by consenting gays are illegal under the country’s criminal code.

Despite the weekend violence, “Girlfriend” director Karan Razdan said he would not pull the film from distribution.

“I’m just trying to show what’s happening in society,” Razdan told Indian television Zee News.

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