At the very outset we at ABVA would like to make a simple point that the LGBTQIA community – which constitutes about 7 to 8% of the population as per the Supreme Court Johar judgement of 2018 – has tasted a measure of freedom and identity only in the last few years starting from NALSA judgment of 2014 whereby the transgenders were accepted as third sex! The vast majority of Indians being heterosexual – both men and women – must have experienced such a thrill right after 15 August, 1947.
We wish to point out that even the framers of the Indian Constitution bypassed the sexual minorities in India; on the other hand South Africa on achieving freedom forbids discrimination on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation in their Constitution itself. Even Nepal’s Constitution contains several articles that enshrine protections and rights for LGBT community. The Constitution of Ecuador banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1998. But in India the Parliament continues to dodge the issue till date. What a shame! Are sexual minorities not part of ‘WE, THE PEOPLE’?
ABVA has been exerted on gay rights since 1988 at a time when the entire political spectrum from left to right kept mum on the issue. My colleague Shobha had documented the struggle around gay rights in an article published in Countercurrents.org on 01.09.2018 titled: ‘Reminiscing ABVA’s Struggle for Gay Rights in the Twentieth Century – A Brief History of That Time’, wherein she had observed:
“ABVA had a broad futuristic vision and in “Less Than Gay” it asked for repeal of all discriminatory legislation singling out homosexual acts by consenting adults in private – section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and the relevant sections of the Army, Navy and Air Force Acts, 1950. It’s Charter of Demands in 1991 included demand to recognize right to privacy as a fundamental right.”
ABVA’s has updated its Gay Manifesto of 1991 (see Charter of Demands in Less than Gay) in an article published in Countercurrents.org on 06.10.2018 titled: ‘An Open Letter To Indian Parliamentarians To Get Section 377, IPC Repealed In Toto’, in which it was stated:
“About time the political parties should appreciate that a population of 100 million people constitutes the second largest minority community in India next only to the Muslim community; and that the sexual minority community can influence, nay change the contours of government formation – both at the Centre and state level … Future ministers in Indian Government could well include a Christian Lesbian; Muslim Gay; Sikh Queer; Tribal of Mongoloid race(from the North Eastern States of India); Transgender; Dalit (of Dravidian stock) Bisexual. This political formation could be the best bet for a secular, democratic regime. The political interests of the working class (workers, farmers) would need to be assured.”
It is hoped that the manifesto proposed for release on 15 August, 2020 would act as an impetus for the future struggles of the people and provide a direction to the activists. Pertinently, it would serve the purpose of ‘WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA’ putting the Union Government itself to notice!
The spirit in which the CC is preparing the manifesto should be no less than that in display while Karl Marx & Frederick Engels were preparing the Communist Manifesto.
Some of what we had demanded in 1991 became a reality recently viz in 2014 transgenders were given an identity of third sex; in 2017 Right to Privacy was held as a fundamental right and in 2018 S.377, IPC was partially struck down. So there is hope!
Dr. P. S. Sahni is a founder member of ABVA. Email: email@example.com