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Because We Were Born This Way: Here Are Ten Indian Organizations Working For The LGBTQ

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By Lakshya Kalra:

The last few years have seen the rise of the LGBTQ — the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-sexual and queer — community. New age freedom of thought and expression has given birth to various movements for the rights of the LGBTQ. People, cutting across economic and social classes, have joined together in their fight for their fundamental rights. India too has not been left unaffected by this world wide fervour. The striking down of the 377 was an important landmark in the fight for equal rights in our country. Several organizations and NGOs have come up to take this fight forward. Some of the important ones are:

LGBTQ

The Humsafar trust:
The Humsafar Trust was set up in April 1994 by the leading gay activist Ashok Row Kavi along with two more self-identified homosexual men who desired to reach out to the gay population in Mumbai and surrounding areas. The trust offers a unique workshop which deals with coming out to self and family, dealing with relationships, with legal issues of gay men, tackling problems with cheaters and hustlers, health and human rights related issues.

Trikone (India):
The organization was founded in 1986. It is a non-profit, social and political organization and claims to be the oldest of its kind in the world. Trikone publishes an eponymous magazine with an international base of subscribers several times a year.

Udaan trust:
Udaan Trust, founded in 1992, is an Indian non-governmental organization operating in the state of Maharashtra. It focuses on issues of sexual health within the homosexual and transgender communities and provides services such as condom distribution, sex education, counselling, and medical services to at-risk populations. The trust also attempts to increase awareness of issues relevant to the rights of homosexual and transgender individuals.

Naz Foundation (India):
The Naz Foundation made a place for itself in the Indian history books when it successfully petitioned against the unjust section 377 of the IPC in the historic Naz Foundation v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi court case. This foundation has been one of the leading NGOs in the fight for the fundamental rights of the LGBTQ community.

Adhikaar:
Adhikaar is an advocacy and activist organisation that works for securing equal citizenship rights for all LGBTQ persons. Based in New Delhi, India, it works in direct partnership with 13 grassroots LGBTQ community organisations from different parts of the country.

Bharosa trust:
Bharosa trust aims to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among vulnerable communities in Lucknow through organisational development and capacity building of Bharosa implementing and managing a male sexual health program in Lucknow (U.P.), India.

Sangama:
Sangama is a sexuality minority, sex workers, and PLHIV, human rights organization for individuals oppressed due to their sexual preference or occupation. Sexuality minorities include, but are not limited to, hijras, kothis, double-deckers, jogappas, lesbians, bisexuals, homosexuals, gays, Female-to-male/male-to-female transsexuals and other transgender. They aim to help live their lives with self-acceptance, self-respect and dignity. Sangama aims to bring sexuality, sexual preference and gender identity into the realm of public discourse and link it to gender, human rights development and other social movements. They campaign for the changes in the existing laws, which discriminate against sexuality minorities, including sex workers and people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA).

Sangini (India) trust:
Sangini strives towards enabling and creating spaces for/by individuals dealing with issues around their sexuality, i.e. women attracted to women, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals. Formed in 1997 in New Delhi, it is the oldest community support program for LBT individuals, women attracted to women in India.

Sappho:
Sappho is a support group for lesbian, bisexual and transgender women. With its base in Kolkata, West Bengal, it is the only group of its kind in the whole of eastern India, founded on 20th June 1999. The primary goal of the organization was to provide safe space for women with same sex preference but gradually it moved into a rights oriented movement to fight discrimination and hatred against marginalized women with same sex preference.

Maan foundation:
Maan Foundation is a national NGO dedicated to the empowerment of the LGBT community, providing support in the areas of sexual health, human rights, social equality and overall well-being. It is based in Lucknow, UP.

You must be to comment.
  1. Baldeep Grewal

    Sometimes I find the Gay Rights movements succumbing to the same evil that plagues feminist movements – elitism. Feminism ignores the plight of the black women , tribal women and women belonging to other such marginalised sects. If gay rights are being fought for then it should be a fight for the rights of ALL gays – not just the ones belong to the general population or have access to education.

  2. Ridhi Murari

    Happy to see so many organizations within India working towards the cause. The attitude is still deeply entrenched in our society. We need more and more work in the field to uproot existing malefic attitudes.

  3. Saumya Sahni

    It is heartening to see so many NGOs coming out to stand up for these people. But I feel that the activities which they undertake are inconspicuous. Like all other social issues, these issues also need to be highlighted in a more efficient way. Media should also take a note of this as we find very few issues pertaining to LGBT community coming out in the open.

  4. Sayendri Panchadhyayi

    @Baldeep: Feminist discourse have several strands within it.The feminism that you are talking about is radical, liberal or Anglo-saxon feminism. And feminism does not ignore black, Dalits or tribal women. Post-colonial feminism have addressed this issue and subalteran feminism, Dalit feminism and black feminism are very much there in place making their presence felt through the course of history. So it is fallacious to homogenize feminism.

  5. DrMadhumita Devi

    I am a lawyer, Psychologist and Psychotherapist working with LGBTQ communities for almost two decades, I work as pro bono legal and Psychological adviser and counseller. I love to connect with LGBTQ communities with out boarders.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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