“DESPITE Supreme Court’s historic judgment on 6th September, 2018, regarding Section 377, nothing much has changed as far as acceptance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Inter-sex (LGBTI) community is considered. Society still looks at these individuals as different species,’’ said Vivak Anand CEO, The Humsafar Trust, Mumbai, on the concluding day of two-day long National Symposium on LGBTI, held at PGI, Chandigarh.
The symposium was organised by the Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, PGIMER, in collaboration with Civil Society Agencies.
Dr Vivak said, ‘’ Year 2014 and 2018 saw two historic judgments, one is the NASA judgment in 2014 and then on Section 377 in September 2018. Despite those judgments and excellent recommendations, things do not seem to be moving forward. If we are looking for a way forward, LGBTI community need to produce more research work and inclusive health policy. This journey is not going to be easy because the political will is not there. The government is not interested as we are not a priority.’’
He added that literary work will help the community. He said, ‘’We are not just a sample but a research. Research is not a token term. Research is lead by the community.’’
He further added that India was an example, where HIV program began at community level and since two decades, the community led their agenda so strongly that they became a priority for the government. It is up to the community to take their agenda forward.
Dr Ketki Ranade Chairperson, Center for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Mumbai Campus, said, ‘’ Exclusion of LGBTI community could have devastating effects on their mental health. Some might have traumatic events that can be scarring, leading to alienation, unhealthy risk-taking and for some it can even turn into a suicide case.’’
Dr Peter A Newman from University of Toronto, said ‘’Mental health is an important issue which should be taken up immediately, both at a political level and administrative level, by LGBTI people as well as by other social organisations. At the same time, every one must treat LGBTI people as any other human being.”
Dr PVM Lakshami of PGI, told Newsline that exclusion of LGBTI community at every level is disheartening. “We do not know what they face in there day-to-day lives. They do not have insurance facilities and they do not have gender option, while filling up the medical form. It is not only there responsibility to engage but it is more of our responsibility as we have more access.”
She further added that one needs to stop bullying the LGBTI them at Schools, Colleges and more importantly at health care centers. She stressed that every one needs to come forward and help the community in getting better education, employment and social space.
Zainab Patel of UNDP India, said, ‘’The way forward for me is what I can offer to the community. After 377, there is a need of specific discussion on health issues faced by LGBTI community. In this, WHO can play a role. We need to know about what is the health status report of LGBTI community and only then we will be able to propose an actionable plan to ultimately help this community.’’
She further added that, In the absence of LGBTI ministry, the only exception we have is the Ministery of Social Justice and Empowerment, a vocal ministry for transgender people and inter-sex people. She said, “We do not see a vocal ministry coming in a place. In the absence of that, if we could look at the health- related outcome and if a brief can be tabled in the next ‘Nation Human Rights Commission’ (NHRC) meeting, it could make a difference as they do provide financial help for research.”