Bollywood's Rakhi Sawant takes search for a husband to prime time TV

Inside, a typical article would give advice on how to set up an anonymous post box, to help gay men avoid being outed.

By contrast, the new magazine is being carried by major bookstores and promises to be “bolder than ever” after holding a launch event attended by a smattering of Bollywood stars.

Even so, where its British equivalent, Attitude, features scores of pictures of near-naked models and celebrities and sells in the tens of thousands, Bombay Dost has only one shot of Mr Gay India in swimming trunks and an initial print run of 1,500.

Most of the Indian glossy’s 56 pages are filled with lengthy book and art reviews, alongside features on gay rights issues both in India and overseas.

The magazine, which will cost 150 rupees (£2), will be published twice a year and has been promised funding by the United Nations Development Programme for the next three years.

There are hopes that urban India is gradually becoming more tolerant. The first Gay Pride march to be held in Delhi, the capital, took place last year – the largest event of its kind in the country.

The recent Bollywood film Dostana was heralded as groundbreaking in its treatment of gay themes — even though its two male heroes were only pretending to be gay in order to try to charm a girl.

Ashok Row Kavi, the founding editor of the original Bombay Dost, said: “Sure, Dostana was about a couple of fake gays, but there’s a scene where a mother accepts her son’s homosexuality, and for a mainstream Bollywood movie, that was a very big deal.”

But tales of discrimination are still common. India’s laws against homosexually are seldom formally enforced, but are often used by the police and former lovers to blackmail or intimidate gay men, Mr Karani said.

Those campaigning against the current laws have also been targeted. Celina Jaitley, a former Miss India turned Bollywood actress, who is one of India’s highest-profile gay rights activists, received hate mail for supporting the relaunch of Bombay Dost. “We have to accept differences rather than be afraid of them,” she said.