Manifesto, Trans Bill, Police, Education – What LGBTQ Voters Want
Is the queer community a “miniscule minority” and so does not count as a vote bank?
Co-host: Urmi Bhattacheryya
Camerapersons: Shivkumar Maurya, Nitin Chopra
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
This election season, political parties and news organisations have reached out to several voices to gauge their thoughts on the polls. Yet a few voices remain unheard. India’s LGBTQ+ community has sort of been glossed over in electoral debates. Why is that? The ignorance is reminiscent of a Supreme Court verdict once upon a time calling the community a “minuscule minority.”
The Quint reached out to some of the queer folks in the national capital, and here’s what they had to say.
Myna Mukherjee thinks that basic inclusion of the community in the election process should start with political parties’ manifestos.
“You know we’d like to see the political parties include and articulate LGBTQIA issues within their manifestos. I think in the past several years, we haven’t really seen that much of it except perhaps during the Delhi state elections when Congress and AAP – actually AAP was the first party to have included it in their written manifesto and I think after that the Congress did. That will be a good place to start for this year.”Myna Mukherjee
Sandhra Sur is tired of the queer narrative being limited to “love is love” without any concrete action being taken against structural oppression.
“The primary narrative is the right to love and that’s it, that’s all they talk about. But what about marginalised identities? What are you doing to people who are economically oppressed because of their identity? What about the structural violence that is meted out to people? So many queer people are thrown out of their houses because they are queer. What about queer shelters? What about employing queer people?”Sandhra Sur
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018 was passed in the Lok Sabha on 17 December 2018. Although called a ‘protection’ bill, the community feels that the Bill actually persecutes transgender people and is in contravention with the NALSA judgement of the Supreme Court.
“The whole idea of proving to them that this is our identity takes away the right to live with self dignity. Because, as many people say, they can ask us to strip down just to show what you really are. And the blunder here is that in this Bill they say that you have to go through a sex reassignment surgery for you to be identified as a ‘official’ trans man or trans woman.”Shume Banerjee
“Other than that whatever discrimination we face – in employment, in education, in healthcare, everything – is not taken care of. Our reservation which is provided in the NALSA judgment, which is very clear that there should be reservation for trans men, trans women or people from the community – that is not taken care of,” Banerjee added.
Several people expressed that for equality, there needs to be a change in policies affecting a queer person’s life, starting from education.
“If we are not allowed to self-identify our own gender or the education spaces aren’t safe for trans people, then how do we acquire qualifications? How do we get a job?”Janet Massar
Mukherjee said that there is a lot of queer history we are aware of, and the same should be included in school syllabuses.
“For example, syllabuses need to have queer history. We have got a tremendous amount of queer history. We are taught in our social sciences; we are taught religion. There are lots of queer instances like we know. We’d like to see some of that.”Myna Mukherjee
Police: Persecutor or Protector?
Police have traditionally been the persecutors of the queer community. Now that same sex relations have been decriminalised, would queer people feel safe enough to approach the police for justice? The consensus seems to be a “no.”
“There was a very bad incident that happened with me on a metro station. Luckily, the policemen there were supportive. They actually took action then and there immediately. But I have heard stories from my friends where they actually mock them and make fun of them. They blackmail them that they are gonna put them behind bars and do things to them, just because they’re gay.”Shabnam Bewafa
The queer community still see the police as oppressors and persecutors.
“They perceive it as a power statement to molest, assault, rape. And it’s not just with cis women, it’s with trans people. It’s mostly with trans people. The thing with cisgender women is that the press still might cover it. But with trans people, they do not care. They do not care at all.”Reyansh Naarang
It has been six months since Section 377 was read down. And in that time, instead of moving forward, the following Bills were brought in which threaten to push the community backwards:
- The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016
- The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018
- Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016
Political parties are seen as only paying lip service to queer people to look progressive, while maintaining the same structures of exclusion and oppression.
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