Suddenly Facebook has gone colourful with rainbow effect display pictures and a lot of discussions about whether those who have done it even understand what it symbolises. No matter what the argument, the question that we all need to ponder on is common- are we open to accepting the LGBT community in our own city?Are there any LGBT activists in Pune and who are they? What are the issues that are most commonly faced by them?
So what is the LGBT movement?
Tinesh Chopade of the Humsafar Trust explains, “According to me the LGBT movement comprises of the social and human rights of LGBTHI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans gender, Hijra, Intersex) and we are fighting against discrimination and prejudice. What needs to be understood by people is that we are normal human beings, only with a different sexual orientation. The entire goal is to fight for equality and seek visibility for community.”
For most of the LGBT community across India, the news about legal recognition of same sex marriage in USA is a positive tiding but not of much immediate use. The main issue that remains to be dealt with is regarding Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
Keith D’Silva, founder and former Editor-in-Chief of the online LGBT magazine ‘The Queer Chronicle’ explains, “To me, a more important and relevant issue for India, is the writing down of Section 377, which criminalises LGBT individuals and makes them vulnerable to violence, blackmail, extortion, rape, discrimination, bullying – which often goes unreported due to fear.”
Further to this, there are various other concerns that pose as a problem for this community and instances of intolerance, discrimination, harassment, and the threat of violence are a reality. Newspapers and other media channels ignore these issues. “The fact remains that this entire issue makes a lot of people uncomfortable and so they choose to ignore it. And unless they open their mind to understand these real issues, misconceptions will prevail,” concludes Tinesh.
So are you willing to go beyond a display picture to really understand the issue and lend your voice to it too?
Feature Image courtesy: Sampathik Trust Pune