NGO awarded for ensuring justice to sexual minorities

National Legal Service Authority to fete Sangama

It was 2008 and a tough year for sexual minorities in the City. Five of them were lodged in one of the police stations. They were beaten up and harassed and false cases booked against them.

Five years after that incident, and after five years of incessant fight against the police ‘atrocity,’ justice was delivered after the Supreme Court upheld the rights of the victims.

For this effort, three members of Sangama, a City-based NGO, have received excellence awards.

The National Legal Services Authority has identified the services of the organisation and has conferred the award for excellence on its founder Manohar and the awards for best practise to senior Advocate B T Venkatesh and activist Akkai Padmashali.

This campaign, where members of the Sangama chose to fight the case legally all the way to the apex court, has been a journey of change for its members.

“In the last four years, so much has changed when it comes to providing space to the sexual minorities. The government is more sensitive than earlier and the public, at large, has also opened up to giving space to the community,” said Padmashali.

Legal service centres

Sangama has been working for the rights of sexual minorities for more than a decade now. The 2008 incident had a great impact on their fight for justice. The organisation currently has free legal services centres in nearly 15 districts and plans to expand it to other districts.

Padmashali observed that though there is a considerable progress in acknowledging the members of the community, much has to be still done in accepting them from the government’s end. “The legislation needs to change. Programmes such as pensions for the sexual minority community and reservation in government sector is just talked about, but they don’t not get implemented. In fact, these programmes are not under any department and hence they never see the light of day.”

With regard to education, there is still a long way to go. With the existing bias against them, it is not easy for children to concentrate on studies while understanding the discrimination against them, Padmashali opined. The award comes as a recognition to the work they have put in over the years and the organisation would continue fighting for the justice for sexual minorities, the activist added.

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