Rallying for the rights of LGBTs

The faculty members, who helped frame the ordinance against sexual harassment in the Delhi University almost a decade ago, are a disappointed lot these days.

The replacement of Ordinance XV-D with the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act by the University authorities has been a setback for sexual minorities like lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) who are not counted under this Act.

Under the new Act, LGBT students cannot file a complaint of sexual harassment. Considering the fact that they are frequent targets of abuse, discrimination and violence, “It is extremely crucial for DU to safeguard and protect their rights,” Ashley Tellis, academician and gay rights activist  told Metrolife.

Tellis, recently organised an interactive session on ‘Sexual Harassment of Sexual Minorities’ in Delhi School of Economics premises, where students from different colleges came together to talk about the implication of the new law.

Tellis, who began the discussion sharing his experience in Delhi University as gay professor at St Stephen’s, Kirori Mal and Ramjas College said, “It was in 2000 when students of St Stephen’s harassed me by putting posters on my room’s door. When I complained about it to the senior authority, no action was taken against the students.” Similar was the situation in Kirori Mal College, where he taught for three years and was
aggravated by the attitude of the homophobics.

“One of the students even accused me of sexually harassing him. I wanted the case to be taken up by the authorities but nothing happened. It’s been 10 years now, and no official complaint has been written against me. It is because, at that time too, authorities want to trivialise the sexual harassment policy, especially when it is related to a gay,” he said. Tellis, was one of the members who helped in framing Ordinance XV-D and came upfront with his sexual identity in 1999-2000.

Supporting Tellis’ concerns, a student from a women’s college, who is also a lesbian said, “Many a times we even fail to acknowledge the way we are harassed by others.” Sharing her experiences, she said, “I was upfront about my sexual identity which my classmates took in a wrong sense. One girl kept on touching me saying, ‘you must be enjoying it’. I did not welcome her stance.”

She pointed out how difficult is to survive in a women’s college which already have set notions about feminism. “They call themselves feminists, so sensitivity for LGBT is always lacking from their front. Even the Women Development Cell in our College is least concerned about our rights,” she lamented.

Another member in the group, who preferred anonymity, said, “The Act does not recognise the harassment of sexual minorities unlike Ordinance XV-D which recognised harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and was also a gender neutral policy. DU, which has now introduced reservation for transgenders in post graduate courses, is more liable now for their protection. Ironically, there is no law in the university presently that could safeguard LGBT students.”

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