LGBT community seeks its place in the sun this poll season

POWERful voice

LGBT community seeks its place in the sun this poll season

Though roundly-criticised, the Supreme Court judgement ‘recriminalising’ gay sex has inadvertently served to politically charge up the LGBT rights issue in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections.

Once considered a political hot potato, which parties deemed insignificant, even embarrassing to pronounce, the subject is now being broached by everyone. Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi came out in the open to say “these matters should be left to individuals.”

The CPM became the first party to promise decriminalisation of gay sex in its manifesto; and recently, some Aam Aadmi Party leaders met up members of the LGBT community to hear out their concerns.

Gay rights activists are inspired. Leading civil rights organisations and their patrons have realised that this is a golden window period made available to them by polls to sensitise the leadership and lobby for LGBT concerns. Most of them, though, are also aware that this could turn  out to be nothing but an election stunt.

Myna Mukherjee, Director of an arts and human rights organisation, Engendered, says, “The gay community is not a miniscule minority as thought by some. It’s growing larger, louder and more powerful every day as people come out to reveal their actual sexual orientation. These are doctors, businessmen, filmmakers, designers and all economically well-off and influential. Say anything but you cannot ignore them.”

Pramada Menon, founder of another gay rights advocacy group CREA, feels it’s just the right time for the community to raise its voice and extract a say in public policy making. “It’s not just about reframing Section 377 to legalise same sex love,” she insists, “but also stopping forced marriages which push several gays and lesbians to take their lives, getting adoption rights, property rights, equal opportunities at work place and anti-harassment laws. The community must pen these laws itself which concern its own dignity and welfare.”

The arrival of young politicians and new parties on the scene has also raised the hopes of activists who are “expecting a new attitude towards LGBTs sans ideological chains.” “We have seen it happen in other countries,” says Anjali Gopalan of Naz Foundation, “New parties gathering the courage to speak up on behalf of LGBTs and trusting a similar transformation here. Let’s see how far their outreach programmes and promises go: till these elections only or to their political terms beyond.”

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