As the capital goes to the polls, members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community fear “the inevitable will happen” once the election results are out.
“It looks like the Modi sarkar is inevitable now. We are terrified of the fate of LGBT community members if BJP comes to power. In December, BJP chief Rajnath Singh had clearly said the party does not endorse homosexuality and welcomes the Supreme Court verdict,” said Myna Mukherjee, director of Engendered, an arts and human rights organisation that works on issues of gender and sexuality.
“We have no faith in BJP as it would be a disaster for people of marginalised groups, especially the LGBT community,” Mukherjee said recently.
In a major blow to gay rights, the Supreme Court had reinstated criminalisation of gay sex on December 11, 2013.
The judgement, which was seen as “regressive”, led to protests across the nation. Describing Section 377 as discriminatory, rights activists had demanded its deletion as criminalises “sexual activities against the order of nature”.
While the BJP’s “conservative stand” irked the LGBT community, talks on “decriminalising gay sex” would be a major highlight of the AAP manifesto.
“The AAP led on the LGBT community for long. But its manifesto has not mentioned decriminalising gay sex. This is a big disappointment,” queer activist Lesley Esteves said.
While members of the LGBT community feel “let down” by AAP, they also believe AAP is the only alternative. “It is possible to open a dialogue with AAP. Though they have acted a little irresponsibly, we also have to remember that it is the party of Soni Sori and Medha Patkar. So we are not disillusioned with the party. As a community, we are absolutely against the BJP for the party’s anti-queer stand,” Esteves said.
Queer groups are not averse to the Congress either. “Even the Congress or an independent candidate would not be a bad choice for that matter. We are actively mobilising against the BJP,” Mukherjee said.
In December 2013, both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi expressed disappointment over the SC verdict.
For Rafiul, a student of Delhi University, “queer people” put faith in AAP because it seemed like the only party that would actively take up the cause of gay rights.“While BJP outright rejected the issue of gay rights, other parties were either silent or expressed dissatisfaction with the SC ruling. The AAP, however, painted a different picture.”
“Given the current political scenario, AAP cannot be dismissed. It is true that the party has aimed at garnering support of conservatives in its manifesto. But it is still ready to engage in a discourse, unlike the BJP, which is vocally against the LGBT community,” Rafiul said.
As a community, queers want to engage in “strategic voting”. They believe the BJP is not only anti-gay but also against “gender non-conformists”.
“The battle is against BJP. The contention is who we will not support in this electoral game. And it is BJP. Marginalised groups will be forced to go underground if it comes into power,” queer feminist activist Rituparna said.