By Cake Staff:
A major study, undertaken by Mumbai-based LGBTQ advocacy organization Mingle (Mission for Indian Gay and Lesbian Empowerment) has found that homophobia in the workplace is ‘rampant’, discrimination is ‘commonplace’, and that many employees are forced to remain in the closet at work because of this.
Among various other facts, the study reveals that more than half of the people they had surveyed claim to have not been covered by discrimination policies which would prevent them from being fired simply on the basis of being LGBTQ. 40% of them said that they were often or sometimes subject to actual workplace harassment because of their sexuality, and two-thirds of them said that even when not directly harassed, they are subject to frequent homophobic remarks from colleagues. These stats are disturbing indeed, and show how deep the prejudice goes.
While those who conducted the study believe that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code—which criminalizes ‘sex against the order of nature’, homosexuality—is the major cause behind this homophobic discrimination, there have also been reports of various corporates in India trying to make their work environments more LGBTQ-friendly. Firms such as Godrej, Genpact, Intuit, ThoughtWorks, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Google, and so on, have been openly championing LGBTQ rights, both globally, as well as nationally.
As Radhika Piramal, Managing Director of VIP Industries, who came out last October, says, “The truth in India is, it’s [legitimacy of LGBTQ inclusion] not going to come from either the legal framework, in the current scenario, or politicians. It has to come from family and workplaces because without that, there is going to be an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.”
The report ends with a series of recommendations to improve the workplace environment for LGBTQ people that includes the widespread introduction of equal opportunity policies which cover LGBTQ people, partnership benefits for same-sex couples, training for managers, more LGBTQ employee resource groups, and visible sponsorship from senior leaders, among various other measures.
Whether or not corporate and employers will actually pay heed to this study and the reforms it suggests only time will tell. To combat ages and ages of homophobia, aided by regressive laws such as section 377, is not easy, but it’s not impossible. If Netflix and Facebook can offer so many benefits to trans and other queer people in the US, why can’t companies in India?