The LGBT community reflects on their place in today’s India.
About The Video: Rural and semi-urban India continues to hold steadfast to its mostly orthodox definitions of sexuality – the male, the female and the enigmatic other. The LGBT communities in these area are socially, economically and politically marginalized. To lead a better life, they have no option but to migrate from the villages and small towns to the city.
On the subject of sexuality, urban India is still sitting on the fence. Homosexuals are subject to much ridicule and discrimination but attempts are being made to forge a space that is more gender inclusive and sensitive. Pride marches are regularly and prominently held and festively organized with a large participation. Major newspapers have introduced prominent feature sections focusing on the issues and lifestyle of the LGBT community giving individuals the space to speak out and voice their opinions. Opportunities for employment have also increased.
Since the 1980s when sexuality was a subject whispered in hushed tones, the fight for rights and recognition has come a long way. More and more people have been coming out of the closet, stepping into the light, speaking openly about their sexuality, demanding their rights and encouraging others to do the same.
The efforts of activists and the community are finally coming together and creating change towards more open social conception of sexuality and a brighter future.
The Issue: On 2nd July, 2009 the Delhi High Court passed a historic judgment overturning the 150 year old Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalized homosexuality by terming it as ‘unnatural’. After years of struggle, the rights of consenting adults of the same sex were finally recognized.
Earlier in 2005, the Indian bureaucracy recognized the transsexual community but introducing the ‘E’ as an alternate option to ‘M’ and ‘F’ in the columns denoting sex on government forms. But even as the judiciary and the governance make progressive steps towards gender-sensitivity, contemporary Indian society is only gradually opening up to diverse sexual identities.
Inspite of encouraging signs, the LGBT community continues to face many hurdles as they try to integrate into mainstream society. They still have to face constant mental and emotional trauma meted out to them by the paranoid and orthodox society they live in. Even in the cities, they are treated as deviants and ghettoized. Very few families are supportive of their gay children and they are left to fend for themselves at a young age. They are a vulnerable community but there is little in the law to protect them from the hate and the violence.
Call to Action: IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent Christyraj from Bangalore calls for the government recognise the LGBT community as a vulnerable, marginalized community and implement a support system for the education and employment of individuals.
She also makes a hopeful request to the society at large – “Please don’t discriminate against us. We’re also human beings. Just like you.”
About Community Correspondent: The challenges of being a transgender person began in her teenage years for Christy Raj when she was banished from home after confronting her family with her sexual identity. Rescued from an uncertain fate by a group of eunuchs who embraced her as part of their family, Christy was eventually exposed to, and dismayed by, harassment and other harmful behavior wrought by the sensationalism and broken promises of identity protection by mainstream media. Now, as an IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent, Christy is regarded as a trustworthy media spokesperson for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer communities and works towards exposing and addressing the discrimination they face. Watch Christy’s videos here.