The LGBTQ+ community has struggles far too long for the basic human dignity that each individual deserves. This community has faced constant marginalization especially in developing countries like India. They are humiliated for something they have no control over! This community requires the help of people that are in a more powerful societal position. To help them gain their basic rights to opportunity for the pursuit of happiness. However, in the end it is their war and it is a fight only they can win. In recent years we have seen support for LGBTQ issues all over the globe. Mainly due to the work done by multiple activists who give confidence to the community to stand for their rights and take control.
Indian activists such as Navtej Singh Johar, Anand Grover, and Menaka Guruswamy carried the beacon of light for the community. They fought hard against the oppressive section 377 until its revocation in September of 2018. Thus ending a law passed all the way back in 1860 by the British Raj. This freed the community from its grips allowing sexual intercourse among consenting adults irrespective of their genders.
Citizens of India now allowed to change their gender after sex reassignment surgery. Under legislation that passed in 2019. They now have a constitutional right to choose a third gender during registration. There are approximately 4,80,000 transgenders all across India. Certain states have started targeted welfare schemes, free operations, and housing programs for transgenders to assist them. For example, The Government of Odisha formulated a scheme ‘Sweekruti’ to secure rights of transgender people. It recognizes that transgender persons are subject to unjust discrimination and hardships in society. It aims to help alleviate their problems so that they may access the opportunities given to all citizens.
Even though there have been Legislative changes causing certain improvements in how our society views the LGBTQ community. There still is massive homophobia all across the country. In a 2019 poll, around half of the Indian population is against same-sex marriage. Therefore the LGBT community remains closeted. They are in fear of the discrimination they will face from their own families. They have to be cautious when looking for partners as people may be faking to attempt to “expose” them.
The LGBTQ pride month
This month is celebrated to commemorate the sacrifices of people who fought for their rights. This month is to inspire strength in those that are hiding and see no hope in their struggle. It is to ensure them that they do not stand alone. The month of June also commemorates the 1969 stonewall uprising in Manhattan, United States. Stonewall was a tavern in Lower Manhattan, New York City. It was a haven for the city’s gay lesbian and transgender community. The uprising sparked by a raid conducted in the morning of June 28, 1969. A riot ensued under the leadership of activists such as Martha P Johnson, an advocate of gay rights. The riots in stonewall were the single most important event in the liberation movement. They have inspired the LGBTQ to fight for their rights ever since.
The LGBTQ flag
The flag was accepted as the universal symbol for gay pride in 1994. It acts as a banner for the community to march behind. It is a rainbow flag. The original version had eight colors, pink for sexuality, red indicating life, orange for healing, yellow the sun, green for nature, turquoise to indicate art while indigo for harmony, and violet for the soul. The number of colors present in the flag signifies the diversity of the community. A community welcoming of all types of people irrespective of where they are from. The community is united by the common struggles.
The face of LGBTQ struggles in India
There are several LGBTQ celebrities in India, who inspire the community by their courage. For example Apurva Asrani, an award-winning filmmaker and writer and one of the few openly gay men in Indian cinema. Vasu Primlani, an openly lesbian stand-up comedian. Shonali Bose, a bisexual actor, is known for her role in Margarita with a straw.
Bollywood has taken a bold step to increase awareness. A number of movies are released recently to educate the Indian public. These films hope that awareness brings up conversations that reduce the phobia against the members of the community. Subsequently allowing them to live a free life without fear of isolation and discrimination. Movies like Margarita with a straw, Bombay talkies, Student of the year, etc have revolved around LGBTQ culture. To educate the public that they are from all economic, religious and cultural backgrounds.
The Amy Coney Barett Controversy
The lack of awareness about LGBTQ issues is apparent even in countries where such movements stemmed. In the United States of America. The recently appointed supreme court justice Amy Coney Barett received widespread criticism. This was for using the term “ Sexual Preference” . This was in response to a a reporter who asked if she shared views of Antonin Scalia who routinely ruled against gay rights. She said “I do want to be clear that I have never discriminated based on sexual preference and would not discriminate based on sexual preference”.
Now she may have used the term unknowingly, as she supports the struggles of the community. However she requires to be more considerate of the community and not spread the dogma inherent in this term. The expression “Sexual inclination” implies the sexuality of LGBTQ individuals is liable to change, which is rude. Her intent was not to hurt the community but the spread of this dogma must be corrected. The correct term is Sexual Orientation as it removes ambiguity and accepts sexuality as part of a person’s identity.
There are several foundations to aid people of the community who want to run for office. To attempt to change the system through legislation. The Victory fund or the LGBTQ victory fund which created in 1991. It is a political advisory group that provides budgetary, specialized, and key guidance. It is targeted to individuals of the community who want to run for office in the USA. There is the LGBT freedom fund that fights the mass incarceration of the LGBTQ community. Especially low-income individuals who are abused by inmates. They aim to provide the funds for bail or for at least safer conditions.
I hope to see a world where no one has to face discrimination but that requires the people of this community to take charge and fight for their survival, no one else can do it for them. For LGBTQ persons it is a responsibility to come out and to inspire others so that they can not only improve their own lives but struggle to improve the conditions for people in the future, so that they may never go through the struggles that you had to go through. Nothing advantageous actually comes simple and the network must stand together to battle the harsh standards of the past.