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Dictionary faces backlash for defining ‘homosexual’ as ‘freak’

Written by gaytourism

An online Hindi- English dictionary translated the word freak to homosexual. | Photo: Pixabay

A popular online Hindi dictionary is under fire for including homosexual as a translation option for the word freak.

Hindi, along with English is the official language of India and has about 322 million native speakers.

The dictionary, Shabdkosh, lists the word homosexual as one option out of nine possible meanings for freak in Hindi.

Founded in 2003, Shabdkosh claims to have millions of daily users in more than 100 countries around the world.

a screenshot in english and hindi of a list of words, one word in Hindi is circled with a green line

A screenshot of the controversial definition of the word freak. | Facebook/Aakriti Khanna

Language is important

LGBTI people and their allies reacted with anger to the translation saying it further stigmatizes an already marginalized community.

‘Homosexuality being translates as freak stands testimony to the deep rooted stigma that my community faces,’ high profile LGBTI activist, Harish Iyer, told Gay Star News.

‘The translation of homosexuals as freaks is not just unjust and unethical, it also challenges the tenets of our values that are enshrined in our constitution.’

Iyer has been on the forefront of the campaign to decriminalize homosexual sex in India. Currently, Section 377 of Indian Penal Code outlaws ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’.

But the Supreme Court of India is currently reviewing a petition to overturn the law. Its ruling is expected in the near future.

Iyer has appeared on numerous television shows to debate the issue. He’s working to try to convince the public to support changing the law. But in one televised debate, his opponent labelled anal sex as ‘dirty’.

This attitude and the dictionary’s decision to use homosexual as a translation for the word freak show that there is a long way to go to achieve equality for LGBTI people.

‘It is a rude reminder of the fact that decriminalisation of consensual sex between adults is only the first step,’ Iyer said.

‘The fight against prejudice is a lifelong one. And we should begin with language.’

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