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Background

LGBTIQ community has been one of the marginalized communities in the world history that has been suffering from disgrace and exclusionfor a long time. There are around 70 countries where members from the LGBTIQ community are criminalized because of which they are not able to participate in the development of their country. These acts have resulted in several protests by the members of this community against this injustice. The foundation for these movements was laid by the members of the Mattachine society way back in 1950 in New York. In 1969, New York police raided Stonewall Inn, which was considered a clandestine gay club and this resulted in riots which lasted for five days. It marked the beginning of gay movements, which was followed by a series of demonstrations all over the world. Let’s pay some attention to the situation prevailing in India

Injustice faced by LGBTIQ in India

The past situation in our country was such that same-sex marriages and adoption of children by these members of LGBTIQ were prohibited. They used to stay in constant fear of being arrested by the police and being gang-raped. Victims of homophobic violence were not protected as they were unable to seek help from the policemen, who in this case, turned out to be the real villain. There have been several instances in the country which supports this claim. Let’s discuss some of the recent events which took place within the last few decades. For example, a 2003 report published by a civil liberties group in Bangalore provides testimony of a “hijra” sex worker who was gang-raped by a group of men and was later gang-raped by the police also. In 2006, the offices of HIV/AIDS organization were raided by policemen claiming that they broke the rules of section 377. In 2007 according to documents of Delhi High court, a gay man was gang-raped by policemen for several days.Like this, there have been several cases that have been unreported in the criminal history and thus justice has been denied to members of this community

Rise of gay movements in India

The first gay movement in India took place on 11th August1992, outside the police headquarter in Delhi when activists from an organization called AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA) protested against the picking up of innocent men by the police from Central Park in Connaught Place. These type of harassments became a common practice in those days which resulted in the protest, but nothing positive came out of it

In 1994, public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by ABVA in Delhi High Court, challenging the validity of Article 377, and this marked the first legal protest against repression against the LGBTIQ members. Again in 2001, PIL was filed by Naz Foundations (an NGO) challenging Article 377. In 2004, Delhi High Court dismissed the petition. Naz Foundations filed a review petition which was also rejected a few months later

All the above-mentioned cases in 21st century resulted in widespread protests by various activists and other groups which led in several NGOs raising their voices against Article 377 as a result of which Home Affairs ministry filed an affidavit for decriminalizing homosexuality. In 2009, the Delhi High court had decriminalized sex within the same gender, but it was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013. In Sept 2018, when Supreme Courtdecriminalized Article 377, it was marked as a remarkable victory of this community

After-effects of overturning Article 377

The response from the religious communities was not positive as many conservatives involving Christian, Muslim, and Hindu leaders called the ruling as a shameful act and condemned it. But decriminalizing Article 377 also brought new hope for this community as they will not be criminalized for homosexuality. This brought a good chance for large business and companies to create a welcoming and supportive workplace for these members. Several big companies like Goldman Sachs, Google have already started working on it. Several films have been released by Bollywood like Fire, My Brother Nikhil, Aligarh, etc. which have the potential to educate the citizens of the country and thus create a more friendly and acceptable society for this community. All these steps have helped to make the young generation more tolerant as compared to the old generation. There has been growing worldwide acceptance of LGBTIQ community members which has helped in influencing those countries where same-sex marriages are still decriminalized

Way forward

Many improvements are still required. For example education system can be modified to increase acceptance of LGBTIQ communities among children at a very early age, making it mandatory to have third gender as a category for sex in every application forms, ensuring quality education is provided to children from these communities so that they can work for the development and upliftment of their community. Successful people from these communities can act as a perfect role model for other children and hence can inspire them. Indian Government should take positive steps to increase the participation of these members in the nation-building activities. It can focus on sectors like tourism, which is currently seeing an increase in numbers after the Supreme Courtruling. According to World Travel and Tourism Council reports, the LGBTIQ market over the whole world is estimated to be $5 trillion out of which Asia’s proportion is $1.1 trillion. Countries like Thailand have already started making investments to attract tourists from this community. Therefore its right time for India to form partnerships with organizations like IGLTA and other LGTBIQ travel associations for capturing this market

LGBTIQ members are seen as an integral part of the community in almost all the countries including India and we as Indians should work for the betterment and upliftment of these members in the best possible way.

Rahul Sarkar is a student of IIM, Ahmedabad


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