‘377’ was rewritten last Sep 6. The story today...

LGBTQIA+ members cheer the inclusion they have gained, but full empowerment still a far shot

It’s been a year since a section of Section 377 was decriminalised. Over this course of time, Bengaluru’s LGBTQIA+ community has had reasons to celebrate. One instance was the recent community-based job fair to increase acceptance among citizens. 

Metrolife asked some community members about the changes they have seen, changes they have not and what their hopes are.

‘Community still doesn’t have many rights’

Alex Mathew aka Maya
A drag performer 

Alex Mathew aka Maya

Changes that happened: I have been able to express myself freely in my performances. Many people are ignorant. Throughout the year, I have tried to educate people, either through performances or through my talk show ‘Chaiya with Maya’, in which I involved people from the community.

Corporate India has been more accepting of the community and has given jobs to various individuals. More campaigns and talks about the community have also popped up.

What has not changed: The community still does not have civil rights: right to marry whom they wish to, right to adopt children and insurance among same-sex partners.

The Transgender Bill was not supported by the community entirely.

Fingers crossed for: Ignorance needs to be dealt with. Some schools have encouraged speaking about same-sex relationships in their curriculum in a positive manner, which is essential. 

‘Job reservations are needed’

Priyanka R
Radio jockey

Priyanka R

Changes that happened: The Supreme Court’s decision helped the community gain acceptance and come out openly. It felt like we had received a new life: we could finally make our own personal sexual choices. 

What has not changed: The sad part is that though most educated people understand the community, there are many who still do not accept or respect the law and the Supreme Court’s order.

Fingers crossed for: The government should have job reservations for the community. There should also be a pension scheme for transgenders.

‘Ascertain that gendered facilities are accessible’

Ramkrishna Sinha

Ramkrishna Sinha
co-founder of Pride Circle

Changes that happened: The biggest positive move in the last year was the recent LGBTQIA+ job fair in the city. This would not have been possible in a world with the old Section 377. More companies are inclusive and willing to engage with the community. Individuals also feel more empowered.

What has not changed: The mindset still stays the same when we talk about inclusion. There is also a dearth of employment
opportunities. We also need to make sure that the LGBTQIA+ people are not bullied. No move to this effect has happened on a large scale.

Fingers crossed for: Gendered public spaces are still a problem. There needs to either be all-gender restrooms, or members of the community must be allowed to use the restrooms of the gender that they identify with.

‘Extended family still behaves insensitively’

Romi Thokchom

Romi Thokchom
Make-up artiste and hair-stylist 

Changes that happened: The pathbreaking decision helped some of my friends come out to their families. They were accepted. The police personnel are more sensitive and respectful to the community now. 

What has not changed: Though immediate family members are increasingly accepting now, extended family members often still behave insensitively. 

Fingers crossed for: Awareness about the community needs to start from the grassroots level. Schools, through moral science classes, should teach students about different genders and sexualities and sensitise them to the LGBTQIA+ community.  

‘There are not enough work opportunities’

Nithu R S

Nithu R S
Model and Miss Trans Diamond, 2017

Changes that happened: People have certainly become more accepting of the community, but this needs to come from a place of empathy rather than sympathy.

That’s where empowerment begins. I tell the community members to cooperate for making workforce more inclusive and equal.

What has not changed: There is not enough work opportunities for trans-models like me, besides rampwalks. I would love to get more work but I don’t see anybody interested in taking that step forward. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and the fashion industry must embrace this change.

Fingers crossed for: Trans-models bring a lot of questions about beauty being a very gendered concept. They break the barrier for each and everyone, which is a great thing. Once such stigma is removed, everyone is bound to appreciate each other.

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