Shahzad Syed Hai & Kanwar Saini aka Sikh Knowledge were photographed kissing on global day of rage in Toronto, Canada. The rally was organized to condemn the Indian Supreme Court’s recent decision to make gay sex a criminal offence in India.
According to reports, the picture was posted on December 15 and a few hours later it got over a thousand likes.
The photo caption said: “Last night my uncle told me if they knew i was gay before 20 they would have killed me. He also said i’m gay cause i was molested as a kid and im on “the wrong path”…and when was i getting married?… i laughed and hung up. He comes from the same backwards place a whole minority were just recriminalized … F*** my uncle. F*** section 377. Im very proud to be illegal in any context. I owe that to my sikhi heritage and my mom. Also, for all the ranting about genocide i hear…i rarely see solidarity. So…f*** em all. #sikhknowledge #baagi #377 #section377 xoxox”
However, on December 16 Saini got a message from Facebook saying that users had flagged the picture as ‘inappropriate’ and it violates the website’s terms and policies.
His Facebook account was also blocked for 12 hours.
Refusing to give up, Saini took to Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr and shared the picture again.
He shared this picture with the caption: “So #facebook blocked me for the next 12 hours and removed this post of me kissing another man protesting #section377”
He tweeted, “@facebook You guys are awful. What’s this tap on the hand 12-hour suspension thing? I have 2 hours left like im on political parole. I can’t even communicate with my fans @facebook…You guys need to stop this automated post deletion and use some of ur $ to hire a screener”.
The photo appeared again on Tuesday after Saini’s account was unblocked.
In an email to Buzzfeed, Facebook said that, “The photo was mistakenly removed and has been reinstated. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
The controversy has also sparked a heated debate on LGBT rights and Sikhism.
In an interview with Huffington Post Canada, Shazad Syed Hai said, “Gay South Asians don’t exist in mainstream media, so when people do see it, it can be uncomfortable.”
Support soon started pouring in for Saini, who is a speech-language pathologist and a disc jockey. Here are some of the reactions…
@SeanEPanjab: Furious that Facebook found @sikhknowledge’s post protesting #377India “offensive” and deleted his post.
@Pixelflamely: I thought the pic was beautiful and I’m so glad everyone’s continuing this fight no matter where in the world they are
@rob82840557: Facebook has some weird double standards, bans a kiss, but allows posts of seriously disturbed cruelty etc: ….
@djrekha: I don’t know what Facebook did to @sikhknowledge but follow him cause like NSA style they shut him down. @sikhcoalition do you hear me.
@MJBernatek: Yet when I try to report #anti-equality movements in Poland, #Facebook does nothing!
@nicolado: The whole thing is so ridiculous it’s almost funny.