By Aditi thakker:
Section 377 of the Indian penal Code may have been repealed in favour of the LGBTQ population of India, but has the country really come to accept gays and lesbians? From what I have witnessed and heard, the LGBTQ community is still ostracized. The ‘gay’ talk is not only taboo in the Indian civil society, but also an issue that no mainstream political party in India has bothered to address. It is almost like being lesbian or gay, is a disease or a disorder; a foreign one. Let’s begin by saying that homosexuality is not a disease and one cannot choose to be homosexual. You are born that way; much like you cannot choose to be a girl or a boy, or fair or dark skinned. It is decided for you before your birth. Sure you can get surgery, but one still doesn’t choose these things at the time of their birth.
Has repealing Article 377 done enough to protect the LGBTQ community in India? Well, it’s not illegal anymore. You cannot be arrested for being gay or lesbian. Undoubtedly, it is a step forward. But what is really required is awareness about this community. One of the most effective ways to have awareness for and about community could be the use of social media, LGBTQ websites, and magazines. One cannot even begin to imagine the plight of an individual who has recently discovered their sexual preference, and cannot share it with others fearing a backlash.
For the welfare of this community in India, it is absolutely necessary that there exists a common platform, popular, efficient and friendly enough for it to be the first step for newly ‘out of the closet’ LGBTQs. There are several NGOs working for the welfare of the LGBTQ community in India, and their help is availed by many in need. There are also several dating and friendship websites for LGBTQ individuals. But what has been lacking is a mainstream media platform that can reach out to millions at the same time. With India’s two millions strong LGBTQ population, they deserve greater media representation. Mind you, this is just an official figure and the actual might be much higher.
To fill the vacuum created by the lack of a common media platform, recently a radio station QRadio, has been set up in Bangalore especially for the LGBTQ community of the city. This radio station will not only be a bonding site for the LGBTQ, but can also be an eye opener for heterosexual people who may have deeply misinformed notions and misconceptions about the community.
Another aspect this radio channels seeks to address is that of sexual health and safety. Having information programs about sexual health are extremely important for the LGBTQ community, since there aren’t many doctors, specifically sexologists, in our country who are willing address this problem with their patients. They begin broadcasting in Hindi and English, and plan to expand their network into regional languages too. They wish to provide counselling services for their listeners, and address issues that LGBTQ individuals may face. This is a great platform to discuss alternate sexuality and will be an eye opener for many.
When our ancient scriptures talk about homosexuality and the third gender as well as depict the same in the form of sculptures in historic monuments, why is the LGBTQ community so side lined in our country? India, the land of different cultures and religions is famous for its tolerance. Really? A huge chunk of our population believes boys are superior to girls, fair skin to dark, tall boys to short ones, upper caste to lower, engineers to writers, English speakers to the rest and the list goes on. The LGBTQ community is fighting the same battle for recognition, respect and dignity, much like other marginalised communities in India.