A Maharashtra State Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Asexual (LGBTIQA) is being launched on May 17 on the occasion of International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.
Despite the legal and to some extent social developments happening on LGTBIQA front, quite a few lacunae remain to be addressed, says Bindumadhav Khire, director of the Bindu Queer Rights Foundation, who is leading this initiative.
On the legal front, a major breakthrough in recognition of transgender persons as a separate legal identity was achieved in 2014 when the Supreme Court gave the right of identification to transgenders as the third gender. Since then, a Transgender (Protection of Persons) Rights Act was enacted in 2019.
In 2018, Section 377 of IPC, which criminalised consensual intercourse ‘against the order of nature’ between two adults, was declared to be unconstitutional by a five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court. This was a watershed development for gay and transgender rights, Khire told The Indian Express.
He said most of the current activities were related to providing services to individual members of the LGBTIQA community, such as ration support to transgender persons and legal crisis support to gays and transgenders . While provision of services and support to individuals from the LGBTIQA community is important, the lack of local level networks has stagnated the movement in terms of advocacy and strengthening and expansion of rights, he said.
Some of the areas in which these lacunae have been repeatedly noticed are legal advocacy in prohibition of conversion therapy, gay marriage, anti-discriminatory law for gays and bisexuals, adoption and surrogacy rights etc, inclusive education for police personnel, medical personnel and political leaders; inclusive policy in government departments, local bodies and corporates, and empowering local, social structures, said Khire.
Initially, members of the network will engage in legal advocacy on issues like gay marriage and inclusive medical and health curriculum, empowering social structures and nurturing new LGBTIQA activists, groups and organisations. Special issues include online registration of transgender persons for Transgender ID and Certificate and awareness, and sensitisation on various queer and non-binary identities.
The network has also encouraged other organisations, groups or networks from India, which can collaborate with QMaN on issues of common interest.