Gujarat Varsity is First in South Asia to Start a Module on LGBTQ

Karnavati University became the first university in South Asia to start module on the LGBTQ community

Published
India
3 min read
The inaugural session of the Proclivityof Gender: Socio-legal approach to LGBTQ Community’ at Karnavati University in Gandhinagar on Monday, August 27
i

“To be honest I was apprehensive about the kind of response the module will receive, especially in Gujarat. However, it’s been overwhelmingly positive and the fact that we are the first university in India to start a course module on LGBTQ community pleasantly surprised us too!” said a beaming Dr Deepak Shishoo, Provost, Karnavati University in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Dr Shishoo has reasons to be happy.

The Unitedworld School of Law at Karnavati University has pioneered South Asia’s very first academic module on LGBTQ studies. It’s called ‘Proclivity of Gender: Socio-legal approach to LGBTQ Community’.

The module is designed by renowned LGBT rights activist, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil from the erstwhile princely state of Rajpipla (also founder of Lakshya Foundation). It was mandatory for undergraduate students of Law and Liberal Studies at Karnavati University, and spanned 20 hours, across five days, from 27 August to 31 August.

But How Did It Even Come About?

Manvendra Singh Gohil told The Quint how the module was conceived.

“Back then (when he visited the university in March), I was in campus to conduct a one hour workshop on the community. The workshop saw a record attendance from different faculties across the college, and the Q&A session after the workshop went on for over an hour!”

Gohil says the enthusiasm overwhelmed him. And on noting the interest of students and faculty alike in all that Gohil conveyed, the university’s establishment decided to create a module.

The module, however, was not just restricted to Karnavati alone, according to Dr Shishoo. Students from different colleges and universities such as IIT Gandhinagar, PDPU Gandhinagar, IIM Ahmedabad, Nirma University also showed up.

Shri Manvendra Singh Gohil, Prince Rajpipla and Dr Deepak Shishoo, Provost, Karnavati University
Shri Manvendra Singh Gohil, Prince Rajpipla and Dr Deepak Shishoo, Provost, Karnavati University
(Photo Courtesy: Karnavati University)

It Teaches a Little Bit About Everyone...

Gohil told The Quint how the attitude towards the LGBTQ community needs to change.

“The module covers various topics such as gender, sexual identities, intersex, hijra, trans communities and asexual persons. The most important aspect of the module is to enlighten people about the ostracisation that the community faces, especially when it comes to legal rights. They face difficulties in buying property, marrying, adopting children, or for that matter even getting a government identity card.”

There are many myths regarding the sexual health and transmission of STDs too that need to be addressed, which the module beautifully does. Credit goes to the university to take the bold initiative of starting this module in a state such as Gujarat. I am witnessing a changing in attitudes among people who do not belong to the LGBTQ community and that is a huge positive for us.
Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, of the erstwhile princely state of Rajpipla and founder of Lakshya Foundation

An exam was held on Friday, after which, certificates were issued to the students of university and participants from other institutes and colleges.

What The Community Feels

In a country that has seen such woefully little dissemination of knowledge about the community, how does the community itself feel about the change?

The inaugural day was chaired by a transgender woman, who expressed her worries over having access to better healthcare, social needs, education and employment of marginal groups.

“Right to self determination, Right to informed consent and Right to marry and adopt are a must for every human being and shall be ensured by society along with laws, and appreciated the initiation of the course which shall help cater to the needs of the society,” she said.

Ms Anahita Sarabhai, Founder, QueerAbad  Ms. Shamini Kothari, Co-Founder, QueerAbad and Mr Gautam Yadav, Project Officer, Humsafar Trust
Ms Anahita Sarabhai, Founder, QueerAbad Ms. Shamini Kothari, Co-Founder, QueerAbad and Mr Gautam Yadav, Project Officer, Humsafar Trust
(Photo Courtesy: Karnavati University)

Anahita Sarabhai, founder of Queerabad in Ahmedabad was also part of the inaugural day at the university on Monday, 27 August.

“We held two sessions, one on Monday and one on Wednesday. It was quite inspiring to see students from different backgrounds come to the fore and ask difficult questions. Some questions could seem offensive on the surface, but a dialogue needs to be started to break stereotypes. After all, most of the information about the LGBTQ community comes from Google and when an educational institute takes charge of teaching the masses, it makes a difference. We hope more universities follow Karnavati University’s lead.”
Anahita Sarabhai, founder of Queerabad

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!