Indian same-sex marriage advocate targeted by fake 'dancing video' posts
A video of a man dancing has surfaced in posts that falsely claim it shows LGBTQ rights activist Saurabh Kirpal, who is campaigning for India's top court to recognise same-sex marriage. The misinformation is the latest online attack on the lawyer, who could become India's first openly gay judge. However, the footage shows artist Damandeep Singh Chaudhary, who regularly posts videos showcasing his dance moves.
"This is Saurabh Kirpal, future SC (Supreme Court) judge," reads a Hindi-language tweet posted on May 3.
"His father B.N. Kirpal was SC chief justice in 2002."
The video, which has more than 11,000 views, shows a man dancing suggestively to a Hindi song.
The tweet makes an apparently sarcastic suggestion that legalising same-sex marriage is "crucial" to the Supreme Court because Saurabh could become the first openly gay judge in India and because his father previously served as chief justice (archived link).
Kirpal is regularly targeted by homophobic remarks online.
The video, which also circulated on Facebook and Twitter here, here and here, surfaced as the Supreme Court heard a petition seeking to legalise same-sex marriage.
LGBTQ rights have expanded in recent years in India -- which decriminalised gay sex in 2018 -- and if the current case is successful, the country would become only the second Asian jurisdiction after Taiwan to recognise same-sex unions.
Kirpal is one of the advocates representing the petitioners of same-sex marriage (archived link).
The 51-year-old could become the first openly gay judge in Indian history if his nomination to sit on the Delhi High Court is approved (archived link).
A keyword search on Google found the video posted on Instagram by Damandeep Singh Chaudhary, an artist and co-founder of a fashion and lifestyle company.
"Finally dancing to one of my most favourite track of the season," Chaudhary posted on January 8, 2022 (archived link).
Chaudhary confirmed he was the man dancing in the video.
"I am a regular content creator and keep posting such videos on my Instagram. I don't know why people share my video with such false and objectionable claims," he told AFP.
"This is completely false and disheartening."
Chaudhary regularly posts videos of himself dancing (archived link).
Below is a screenshot comparison of the video shared in a false context (left) and Chaudhary's Instagram video (right).
Meanwhile, Saurabh Kirpal criticised the posts for spreading "homophobia".
"There's a video of a man dancing, allegedly me, that's gone viral," he tweeted on May 4 (archived here).
"A) it's not me, b) mocking anyone this way is disgusting homophobia. Bigots may cloak their hatred behind justifications, but it remains vile. Shame on them."