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Case Title:

Azaad Bazaar, India's First LGBT Online Store: When Will Its Bazaar Have 'Azaad'?

Publication Year : 2009

Authors: Syed Abdul Samad and Thalluri Prashant Vidya Sagar under the direction of Dr.Nagendra V. Chowdary

Industry: Services

Region:India

Case Code: ENT0025

Teaching Note: Available

Structured Assignment: Not Available

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Abstract:
Azaad Bazaar – literally meaning ‘Free Market’ – is the first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) pride store in India that started in 2006. The brand was then called Serapheena and was sold through gay parties, exhibitions and other community events like pride marches. Started with offering few products like jewelry for members of the LGBT community as a mark of showing pride in their queer identity, Serapheena grew in terms of product range – from home décor, t-shirts and accessories to disco balls and fur handcuffs. Inspired by the pride march ‘Queer Azaadi 2008’ in Mumbai, the brand evolved to be known as Azaad Bazaar. It also went online in July 2009, when the Delhi High Court decriminalized Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on July 2nd 2009, making it the first LGBT online store.

Section 377 of the IPC, which was enacted by the British in 1861, treats private consensual sex between same-sex adults as an act ‘against the order of nature’ and a crime. The law criminalizes homosexuals by imposing a punishment of imprisonment up to 10 years for any kind of sexual intercourse. However, with the repeal of the Section 377, the LGBT community and the businesses that cater to their needs are rejoicing. They are on the move from their closeted lives to the mainstream. However, as it happens in the western world, would these people be received with respect and welcomed with the same warmth in India? Would this lead to a wider societal acceptance giving the business enough potential? For now, at least the law (partially) has paved the way.

In addition, it is not just the law that matters, but also the people’s mindset that plays a major role. For years, LGBT people have been considered ‘abnormal’ and as a blot on the society. In a conservative country like India where public display of affection even among heterosexuals invites lewd remarks, LGBT is a taboo and is subject to social stigma. It still faces discrimination and is kept out of the mainstream society. Critics and religious groups argue that homosexuality is a western concept and very vehemently argue that decriminalizing homosexuality would increase child abuse and spread HIV/AIDS.

Such homophobic attitude of the society would make it difficult for the members of the LGBT community to come out. Then, how would Azaad Bazaar, in such conservative market conditions, come out of all the shackles to scale up its business and shore up its marketing activities, forms the crux of the case study.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To have an overview of the motives – voluntary and/or involuntary – behind LGBT community’s behavior
  • To establish the legal and societal status of LGBT community in India in the wake of the New Delhi High Court’s landmark judgement making amendments to Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code
  • To debate and discuss the business potential and challenges of India’s first online LGBT store, Azaad Bazaar

Keywords : LGBT, LGBT Community in India, Women Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship in India, LGBT Business Model, Azaad Bazaar, Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual and Transgender, Decriminalizing Homosexuality in India, LGBT Market Segment, LGBT Movement in India, LGBT Business, IPC 377, Azaad Bazaar's Business Eco system

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