A small step to empower LGBTs

For a cause

Over the years, India as a developing country has progressed to marvellous levels in terms of the economic and scientific development. Achievements like the successful landing of Mangalayaan (Mars Orbiter Mission) and Saina Nehwal becoming the first Indian women’s player to become World No.1 in badminton have garnered universal glories for the country from across the world.

While these facts and figures make us stand tall and proud, the rigid sociological and ideological mindsets in the country do have an uncanny knack to make us feel ashamed and defeated. Despite the development and success stories, the notion of sex and sexuality remains a ‘taboo subject’ in India, with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community continuing to struggle for their rights, for recognition and acceptance from society and  opportunities to earn a healthy livelihood.

In an attempt to sensitise and inform the audience about the concerns of the LGBT community, the Indian Institute of Counselling (IIC) organised an interactive workshop over the weekend.

Attended by counsellors, aspiring psychologists, members of the LGBT community and students, the workshop, aimed at creating awareness about the life and times of the LGBTs and the difficulties and prejudices they face in various walks of life.

Led by the resource person Taraasha Chopra, the workshop talked about the struggle of these individuals who spend their entire lives in figuring out ways to lead a normal and happy life.

Keeping the interaction completely free and impersonal, Chopra unveiled the various stereotypes about the LGBTs that exist in the society. For instance, ‘people become homosexuals because of sexual abuse they suffered during childhood’, ‘one can tell a girl is a lesbian by the way she walks’, and lesbianism is caused by hormonal imbalances and could be changed by medication’.

One needs to understand that an LGBT person is still a person with all the rights and opportunities that a ‘normal’ citizen enjoys. It is these preconceived notions and assumptions that the society develops about LGBTs, which makes their survival even more difficult and traumatic.

“We learn about such stereotypes from our own families. Why a transgender is looked at as ‘dangerous’ and why a gay man is considered to be ‘feminine’, are all the results of the media influences over our thoughts and perceptions,” Chopra tells Metrolife.

Stephen Hubbard, a gay activist from Scotland was one of the attendees at the workshop. While his presence added the much needed diversity to the discussion, he also shared his personal experiences as a gay person and how the LGBT community struggles, not just in India, but overseas as well.

“I believe that people divide the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’. One is the ‘in group’ and the other is the ‘out group’. Such kind of differentiations puts the LGBTs at a lot of disadvantage,” he said.
Meanwhile, incorporating interactive video sessions, Chopra acquainted the audience with some real life experiences of the people who have come a long way as a part of this community and are now living a happy and contented life.

Attending the workshop, Metrolife couldn’t help recalling December 2013, when the Supreme Court tagged ‘Homosexuality and unnatural sex’ between two consenting adults, under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, as ‘illegal and offensive’.

It is directives as these, from the highest legal authority of the country, that make these workshops extremely important. Education and enlightenment, along with lot of awareness for the LGBTs, alone can bring the necessary change in our perspective
and mindset.

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