LGBT community seeks space in election manifesto

“With SC order, everything we fought for has come to naught”

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:10 pm IST

Published - December 12, 2013 12:04 am IST - Mumbai:

Sonal Giani was 22 when she mustered the courage and told her father she was a lesbian. It became possible only after the Delhi High Court decriminalised homosexuality in 2009. On Wednesday, her father called her up, urging her not to lose hope after the “regressive judgment.”

“I was always attracted to women. My teenage years were very difficult and I was suicidal. But when I came out of the closet, I realised my parents were very supportive. They even know my partner and like her. My partner, on the other hand, is not out. She was planning to tell her father but this judgment might throw her back,” said Sonal.

An air of gloom settled over the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community in Mumbai on Wednesday as some of them gathered to protest at Azad Maidan. Humsafar Trust, which was founded in 1994 to address the concerns of the LGBT community, was abuzz with people. The same community found a voice after the Delhi High Court had made Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code unconstitutional. Charting a road map for the way forward, community members said they had little choice but to engage the political class.

“So far, we were an apolitical movement. But now we have been forced to make it a political movement. We are a vote bank and we will demand that our right be made part of the manifesto for 2014,” said Pallav Patankar, director of the HIV programme at Humsafar Trust.

Speaking of the changes that occurred in the lives of people after the High Court decriminalised homosexuality, activists pointed to a report prepared by the Trust in 2011. The report, titled “Aftermath of Reading Down of Section 377,” showed that homosexual issues were discussed more freely after the order.

“After 2009, the number of suicides and forced marriages dropped. People at least started opening their minds on the subject. [Now] Everything we fought for has come to naught,” said Urmi Jadhav, who is a hijara and works as counsellor at Humsafar.

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