Waiting to be heard

Waiting to be heard

Waiting to be heard

One of the most colourful events of the City, ‘Pride March’, was held as part of the Bengaluru Pride and Karnataka Queer Habba 2014 over the weekend. The event had those from the sexual minorities, turning up in large numbers and continuing their battle to make their presence felt. They say, in one voice, that the judgment of Section 377 of IPC and Section 36 (A) of the Karnataka Police Act, is unacceptable.

Akkai, an active member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, says that the march this year was different from the one of last year, as there were more than 1,000 people openly expressing their disappointment and aggression against the judgement of the Supreme Court of India. “Most of the people came to the event unmasked. All of them demanded repealing Section 377.

They protested against the false cases booked by the police against a few people of the community and sought to end the violence and oppression based on gender identity and sexual orientation.”

She says some of the problems faced by the members of community are lack of education and employment opportunities. Akkai says that the community will be approaching the leaders of the society, seeking their support. “Everyday, there are new worries; be it even using a public toilet etc. People ridicule those from the sexual minorities and dealing with this is our main agenda," she adds.

Archana Shetty of Campaign for Sexuality Minorities and Sex Workers’ Rights, says the march didn’t have a shade of celebration. “The Supreme Court may feel that we are a minority but the march was organised to show that we aren’t as few in number as it is made out to. The members of our community often fight for issues related to women and sex workers. Still we do not get support,” says Archana. She says that the LGBT community aims to create more awareness about the fact that sexuality is not a choice.

Others like Manasi, a queer who works in client servicing with a creative agency, says that there are many struggles on a daily basis. “There is extreme homophobia among people after the judgement, caused by fear and ignorance. My father wasn’t able to accept me too. He thought it was against the culture. But over time, the more I spoke about my sexuality, he was able to come to terms with it,” she says.

Manasi points out that the march aims at making the LGBT community more visible. “While I’m not able to get involved in many projects with the community, I use social media to create awareness,” she says.

Even youngsters who come out of the closet face several issues. Sakhi Shah, one of the founders of the National Law School Queer Alliance, says, “Many family members often say hurtful things. Also, there is the fear of being imprisoned any time for being open about one’s sexuality.”

She says that as a support group, they are looking forward to Section 377 being repealed. “We hope to be able to support queers on the campus, like students who have roommates unwilling to live with them anymore etc,” she says.

Many are just elated to be a part of the community and looking forward to happier times. “At the march, we wanted to prove that we are all together in this fight. We did get the ‘third gender’ status, but under Section 36(A), there are cases booked against us. We are just human beings; the only difference being that our sexual identities are different. We just wanted to communicate that we are proud of ourselves,” says Ranjitha, a transgender and an activist. She feels the Pride March last year was able to get the transgender community a separate identity, and hopes that this year, Section 377 will favour the transgender community.