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We Won In Court, But Is Indian Society Ready To Accept The LGBTQ Community?

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We have definitely won one of the most difficult battles which was decriminalisation of homosexuality, but is this enough? A historic verdict is, of course, a very significant move, but no, this just isn’t enough.

There are even more challenging and difficult paths ahead. Our Constitution ensures equal rights, freedom, opportunity, and justice for all. But does everyone in our society even try to acknowledge a person’s identity? Does it want to ensure equal rights, freedom, opportunity, and justice for the sake of humanity? As a society we have desperately been failed to do so.

We live in such a society where discrimination, violence, and injustice (particularly towards women, Dalit people, Muslim people, people of different races, and regions, and those who speak different languages) has been an everyday affair and is still are very much prevalent even after 72 years of Independence. So, how can I believe that the same society will fairly accept and acknowledge the LGBTQ community without questioning their identities?  Are we ready to walk together irrespective of our identities? Such things could only be possible when every person and every institution across the board (including political leaders, media, civil society, the entertainment industries and more) come to a consensus to sustain humanity.

Source: Getty Images.

However, sadly and frustratingly, I must mention that on one side, millions of people across the country are celebrating this historic, much needed progressive move (which has also been recognised and appreciated internationally), on the other side our dear talkative Prime Minister, who is always active on social media, couldn’t express a single word. That’s one of the reasons why we are failed in the first place.

We have influential fundamentalist organisations like the RSS, the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, and the Hindu Sansthan. Similarly, there are Islamic and other religious fundamentalists organisations. We have people like Subramanian Swamy, Yogi Adityanath, Baba Ramdev, Zakir Naik, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, whose unthinking followers become the owners of a popular notion of social morality. And anyone who doesn’t fit into their definition becomes anti-India, characterless, Urban Naxals and what not. My humble request to them is to recognise that their morality is discriminatory, hateful, and violence-driven, used only to feed their own bigotry, and to ban and kill anyone who doesn’t abide by their moral compass. Until the time their mindset changes, we can’t expect a bigger change in society.

There have always been so much stigma, so many stereotypes and taboos around the LGBTQ community and the complete silence of our Prime Minister and other influential people on the Section 377 verdict confirms it.

Discrimination, molestation, oppression, harassment or any kind of violence against LGBTQ community is not going to be prevented very easily. There is no miracle intervention or legal system. We need to understand that we can no longer point to one specific policy change or piece of legislature that we need to solve this problem. In light of that, there is a need for a social and cultural paradigm shift.

Remember when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a tearful apology to members of the LGBTQ community? I want our dearest Prime Minister Mr. Modi to watch it.

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  1. आस्था बहुगुणा

    This is indeed very well written Shailu, but at the same time, we will have to understand that the people who don’t support this, where are they coming from? They are trapped in the already set societal rules, and we a few liberated Indians can’t blame them for it.
    I also believe that this is a very progressive step because a lot of things in our law is not being followed, but there is still a law. For example, we know untouchability is something illegal and we need not practice this. If we do so it’s because of what are surrounding is making us, but there is still a law which controls. So law comes first, and then the change. Of course it will take a lot more years, but it will come. At least the law gives us a forum to discuss this, a buzz which is around, a lot of people who don’t discuss this would have heard the news and got scandalised. But it did something to their brains right?

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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.

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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.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

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Read more about the campaign here.

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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.

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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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