A look at how caste and class privilege are still prevalent in the LGBTQI+ movement in India and how accessible it is to all sections of society.
The LGBTQIA+ movement has taken great strides in India in the form of awareness and rights. An example of how this movement has succeeded is the Supreme Court ruling Section 377 of the IPC unconstitutional on September 06, 2018. On November 26, 2019, the movement suffered a setback in the form of the Rajya Sabha passing the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, which is regressive for the Trans community and a step backwards for the movement in the country.
The question that arises is, does the LGBTQIA+ movement consider intersectionality within the movement, or does it cater only to certain privileged classes within big cities and still remain inaccessible to people from marginalized communities such as Dalits and Muslims?
The true essence of a movement should lie in fighting for the people within it. An example of this can be seen from an excerpt from Hasratein: A Queer Collective’s latest statement urging action against the Trans Bill during the Pride Parade. “This Pride is not a party; it’s a fight. It’s a brawl in a bar that ends with a brick thrown on the head of a cop. It sparks a revolution. It is for the trans community. Only when this atrocious bill is defeated, do we celebrate. Join us in our rage at Delhi Queer Pride to continue our resistance against this fascist state.”
A noticeable aspect of the pride parade and the LGBTQI+ movement is the ignorance of intersectionality. Rishi Raj Vyas, a Dalit queer activist when talking about the Pride Parade says, “When we were at Pride, they did not let us raise the flag of Babasaheb Ambedkar saying that Pride is only for LGBTQ people, thus denying access to queer Dalit and queer Muslim people. So, we need to have more intersectional spaces for queer individuals from different caste and class backgrounds, and yes, we need to educate people, especially queer people about struggles of people of class and people of caste.”
Yameena, a student of sociology from Miranda House, University of Delhi, says, “The LGBTQIA+ movement in India has the tendency of excluding Muslims and Dalits. It’s often a result of the inherent islamophobia and casteism of the Savarna queers. It’s also important to look at the issue from a socio-political dimension.”
It is a very important point to consider that the accessibility of these movements for different castes and classes within India is still next to none. Prachi, a student of IPCW, says “Coming from a very privileged place, it was very hard for me to remember any Muslim or Dalit queer person I know or have met in real life. the Muslim or Dalit people I know are not publicly out to the world because we live in a very Hindu dominated society, and this society is not at all safe for them.”
It is time to recognize that privilege does exist within the sphere of the LGBTQIA+ movement in this country. While it might take steps forward, the overall effort will be fruitless if the many different socio-political factors within the movement and its intersectionality aren’t recognized. There is a need to examine and introspect how this movement and all the positives within it can reach and incorporate all sections of society.
The above article was first published in DU Beat.