Earlier this month I was going through a series of social media posts regarding the pride month and how non-lgbtq people have now started celebrating and supporting their lives, which actually felt like a dose of positivity, till I stumbled upon a news that went like “The US govt finalized a Department of Health and Human Services administrative rule rolling back health care discrimination protections for LGBTQ people” — which can be simply put up as, ‘The current administration will now allow doctors and healthcare workers to discriminate against LGBTQ people’. To make matters even worse, the rule was released on Friday, June 12 that happens to be the fourth anniversary of the Pulse shooting, which killed 49 people, including many queer and trans people, in an Orlando, Florida nightclub. Going into further detail, this rule makes it legal to deny healthcare not only to queer and trans community, but also to women who are seeking or have had an abortion. Going through this news, I could literally relate to the phrase “disappointed but not surprised”. Disappointed, due to fact that a first world country, which we all assume to be way ahead of the time in lot of ways, is facing this; not surprised, because homophobia is a universal thing.
While I point out another nation regarding this behavior, I should also look at my own backyard. I have to admit that when it comes to sexual (as well as religious) minorities in India, equality is just a myth.
Unfortunately, no matter how much the countries are divided by their rivalry and history, almost every one of them share a common ground when it comes to homophobia, women’s rights and maintaining their supremacy towards minorities.
India is a vast and diverse country where society has its own reasons towards this subject. The difference between urban and rural India, differences based on language, caste, class and gender makes this even more complicated to understand. One of the main enemies I personally think is discrimination using religion. which I will be talking about in the further paragraphs. While a lot of articles argued that this was only because of the laws being made during the British-colonial era, I can assure you people would have despised even otherwise.
But despite all these social barricades, India saw a new ray of hope in the year 2018, when same-sex marriage was legalized following a judgement from the Supreme Court, ruling out section 377. To think that there was a law that criminalized basic human rights, is a concern enough.
For India, this moment was nothing short of historic, and a lot of us were quite shocked, because previously, there had been a lot of cases on discrimination against trans people where most of the times, the court verdicts did nothing but further weaken their opportunities and endanger their survival in the society.
While celebrations were in on full swing, it took only a moment for most of us to realize that a change in law is not going to bring them justice until people come forward as their allies.
The reality of transgender community to this day is horrifying. Apart from harassment and bullying, they are put in unimaginable situations which leaves them no choice but to survive through begging, prostitution and many other horrifying acts. The system, due to not being enough trained to respond to injustices against them , rarely responds by issuing a fair warning, sometimes even telling them to ignore the incident.
A lot of parents will go to the lengths of not accepting them at home, or forcing them into marriage or therapy, believing the society that claims homosexuality as either be a disease, hormonal imbalance, demonic possession or supposedly an influence of the new generation, further raising the issues of morality, Indian culture and family prestige and of course, religion. No matter whatever the religion, people have been exploiting it for generations imposing what’s right and what’s not. The idea of Human beings being defined by their religion is as disgusting as it sounds.
the situation even worsens with the Central government’s attempt to introduce the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, which risks all the changes that were brought in support of the lgbtq.
This is a country where same-sex marriage is legalized, and so is sex conversion therapy, further forcing them into depression and suicidal thoughts.
So how do we solve this? Changing reforms and policies such that it also includes them . updating options more than just ‘male’ and ‘female’ and making it inclusive of diverse gender and sexualities.
Another crucial step towards normalizing sexual orientation and gender identity is educating them right from the beginning so that younger generations will grow up with a sense of equality and allyship, which will be a boon to their basic rights.
Protecting vulnerable students. Training staff members of schools and universities empowers them to respond and prevent such bullying. Not only educational institutions, change is also needed in the mindset of government officials and the police.
It has also come to my knowledge that the welfare of the LGBTQ is handled by the Women and Child development department which is not justified as this is concerned with the entire community, and therefore can and should be handled by sectors that handles social welfare of the entire community, i.e. the department of social justice and empowerment
But are things always this negative though? Nope. Things are gradually starting to change now. India’s private sector is opening up to supporting the lgbtq cause. Several workplaces have started making their environment inclusive of everyone regardless of their sexuality or gender identity. We are hearing several progressive news articles where LGBTQ community is making a breakthrough everywhere right from the civil services to hosting TV shows. Film industry is gradually changing their attitude from making jokes on them to representing their side of the story. India saw a rise in several social activists fighting for the LGBTQ cause. Several cities are proudly taking part in the pride march. We have this newfound hope that even if laws or rules change against them, this generation will make sure they have a voice.
In spite of all this positive-negative complex environment, one thing is sure that a lot of work remains to be done in India and the rest of the world in terms of changing the society’s perception and behavior towards the lgbtq community. Happy Pride !