U.N. kudos for LGBTQI initiative in Manipur

State government follows NGO model, sets up quarantine centres for transgender people

Published - May 22, 2020 05:18 pm IST - GUWAHATI

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth has listed Manipur’s Khudol (gift) among the top 10 global initiatives for an inclusive fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also read: Manipur village builds quarantine huts for returnees

Khudol is a crowdfunded initiative of Ya_All, an Imphal-based NGO that had created India’s first transgender football team. The initiative entails ensuring food, health and hygiene of the LGBTQI+ community, people living with HIV, daily-wage earners, children and adolescents.

“Mobilising a network of 100 volunteers, they have provided around 2,000 families and individuals with over 1,000 health kits, 6,500 sanitary pads and 1,500 condoms,” said Jayathma Wickramanayake of Sri Lanka, the UN Envoy on Youth.

Ms. Wickramanayake also acknowledged Ya_All, which was founded in 2017, for organising mental health workshops and founding Meitram, the first co-working and networking space owned and run by queer individuals in India.

“The acknowledgement by the UN wing is a huge encouragement for strengthening our work toward more inclusiveness. We have been reaching out to the vulnerable sections offline and online from the last 50 days,” Ya_All’s founder Sadam Hanjabam told The Hindu on Friday.

Safe quarantine

Manipur has also been more accommodative to the transgender community than other States during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, ensuring that they were not put into quarantine centres for men.

Ya_All created a model of an inclusive safe space for transgender returnees. The organisation teamed up with the local Thangmeiband United Club and Imphal West district administration to set provide separate rooms and toilets for transgender persons besides a ramp for the differently-abled at a quarantine centre in Imphal’s DM College of Teacher’s Education.

“Young people from the margins have had to migrate to bigger cities for livelihood in the absence of inclusive options in our State. The COVID-19 crisis added hardships to the fellow young vulnerable people,” Mr. Hanjabam said.

Two days later, on May 21, the State’s Social Welfare Department also opened two dedicated quarantine centres for transgender persons, which it said were the first of their kind. “The centres are ready to receive our transgender people stranded outside,” Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh said.

“It was considered prudent to open separate quarantine centres for the transgenders to ensure their emotional security during the current pandemic. We took the decision after we came to know members of the community were facing inconveniences in sharing facilities with male or female inmates,” said Ngangom Uttam Singh, the Department’s Director.

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