The LGBTQ+ community, like a lot of others in the modern digital era, must deal with the pandemic of cyberbullying as well as internet abuse. Although the internet allows people to communicate and express themselves, it also puts them in danger from statements of hatred, threats, and discrimination. The legal options available within Indian law to stop cyberbullying and online abuse that targets LGBTQ+ people will be discussed in this blog article, along with the pertinent regulations and legislation.
Cyberbullying is the practice of engaging in negative behaviours like intimidation, threats, or defamation through the use of electronic means of communication like messaging apps, social networking sites, or emails. Bullying that occurs online may take many various forms, including abusive remarks, the spread of false information, or the unlawful sharing of personal information. The victims of these crimes may suffer significant psychological, emotional, and even bodily repercussions.
Legal Recourses Available Under Indian Law:
Information Technology Act, 2000 – The main piece of legislation controlling cyber-crimes in India is the ‘Information Technology Act’, sometimes known as the IT Act. This Act’s pertinent provisions include:
* The Supreme Court invalidated Section 66A:
In the past, Section 66A was applied improperly to single out people for their web-based speech. However, the Supreme Court invalidated it in 2015 in the Shreya Singhal v. Union of India case, protecting Internet free expression.
* Identification theft, Section 66C:
This section deals with the theft of identity, which is frequently utilised when personal information is shared online without authorization.
* Publishing or sending offensive content online in violation of Section 67:
When sexually explicit or objectionable material is utilised in online harassment, this clause may be applied.
* Sections 354A (sexual harassment) & 509 (insulting a woman’s modesty through words, gestures, or actions):
These Indian Penal Code (IPC) provisions can be used in situations of online abuse and sexual assault, including those that target LGBTQ+ people, even though they are not specifically related to cyberbullying.
* (‘Puttaswamy v. Union of India’) Right to privacy
The right to privacy was recognised as a basic right in the famous Puttaswamy ruling. When personal information is disseminated without permission, this might be very important.
* The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act of 1989 is known as the Prevention of Atrocities Act.
If LGBTQ+ people are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and they are members of a Scheduled Caste or Tribe, they may be protected under this act, especially if they come from marginalised communities.
* Union of India v. Shreya Singhal (2015)
Section 66A in the IT Act was deemed illegal in this historic judgment. It was an important win for internet free expression and offered protection from its possible abuse.
* State v. Ritika Agarwal (2019):
The accused in this case was accused of sending offensive texts with a sexual agenda in violation of Section 354A in the IPC. The judge ruled that sexual harassment can take place online.
* Union of India v. Aditya Omprakash Dwivedi (2020):
The significance of one’s entitlement to privacy & the safeguarding of private data online was highlighted by this case. Hence it underlined the possibility of privacy invasion due to internet harassment.
Consider the following legal options if you or anyone you are acquainted with is the victim of cyberbullying or online harassment:
* Making a police complaint: You can make a police report about the occurrence in your neighbourhood station or online at the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal (www.cybercrime.gov.in).
* Seek Legal Advice: To better understand your rights & legal alternatives, speak with a lawyer with expertise in cybercrime matters.
* Gather Evidence: To back up your claims, save evidence such as screenshots, chats, and emails.
* Obtain a Banning Order: During serious situations, you can ask the court to issue a restraining order to bar future contact with the harasser.
* Participate in Support organisations: Organisations and organisations that provide support for LGBTQ+ people can assist you through the legal system by providing resources, emotional support, and direction.
Cyberbullying as well as online harassment of LGBTQ+ people are severe crimes with potential long-term consequences. Thankfully, Indian law offers channels for seeking justice, such as the IT Act, and certain IPC sections, including the right to confidentiality. When confronted with online harassment, it is critical to be conscious of these legal options and take appropriate action. We can all work together to create a more secure and welcoming online community for everyone by taking legal action and combating cyberbullying.
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