LGBTQ Rights

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I grew up watching Rom-Coms and reading Romeo Juliet, love stories, poetries. Some ended with “and they lived happily ever after…” and few ended with tons of drama. But the saddest part was always when their love has to face many challenges. Why not just accept it? What’s the problem? So, what! “Love is Love.” Sometimes its religion, sometimes its status, sometimes its parents and sometimes because he didn’t like F.R.I.E.N.D.S. But mostly it is always the society and other dramatic reasons like mom saying “either her or me” or “what will people say” or “he is Muslims!” or “NO. end of discussion.” I always wondered at least in stories or movies or in life they get to express their love to their partners but what about people who didn’t even get to do that at all. People living a secret life, when they are not even serving the Queen secretly. Don’t get to say whom they love or even express how they feel.

Thankfully we overcame that phase at last. Now everyone can be themselves. Express everything openly and not hides behind the fear of creepy thoughts or comments from society. We witnessed many laws coming, especially after the 2019 landmark Judgement. The transitional wave of laws or rights of LGBTQ started with Naz Foundation Govt vs NGT of Delhi[1]and it stopped at Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019.  Before this, not only the identity but rights as a normal human being was also in question. Apart from all social media happy trends of pride month, how many laws are actually protecting the rainbow people in India? Is marriage possible or adoption? Not only laws, what about family? Will they accept it or the person will end up in a mental asylum?

Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019. 

Life is all about rights and democracy is a myth. How many basic rights is a person is aware of or how much should be an individual’s right is always a tussle. You and I are still struggling to understand how much amount of intention is required to be convicted under murder; and in the parallel world, others are still figuring out if being a man and putting high heels is, okay?

When the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 is introduced for the very first time in 2016, it is being opposed as it didn’t have provisions related to marriage, adoption, divorces in the bill. Not only that but the bill is based on biological determinism.[2] The bill was again introduced in 2018 with 27 amendments including restricting transgenders from begging.[3] But it didn’t pass and struct with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha. The bill was reintroduced in 2019 and it became an act on 5th December 2019. [4]

The 8 paged Act discussed the following:

  • Restricting discrimination,
  • Identity recognition,
  • Government Welfare,
  • Obligation of establishments
  • Education, health and social security
  • National Council
  • Offences and penalties

In India, as per a survey by Ipsos[5]; 3% of people identify themselves as homosexual, 2% as others from gender which includes transgender, non-conforming, non-binary, gender-fluid and others.  9 % of the people recognize themselves as bisexual, 2% identify themselves as asexual and 1% is pansexual. The remaining 17% of people reconsider themselves as heterosexual. Is this act enough for ensuring all kinds of rights or we need more elaboration?

‘We need an explanation.’

It is so obvious when we see our friends or any couple doing really great in their relationship, the only question we bust popping “when are you sending a wedding invite” or “cricket team or one will be enough.”

But when we consider the LGBTQI people, how many laws do we see, which can actually lead them to a happy and secured happy life. Considering those, the rights must also include the following:

  1. Same-sex marriage: Yes, everyone talks about it but how is this possible? Dedicating a complete act on this is not possible. So, if we consider the existing marriage laws, then will it work? Even when it does, will religion and customs will be an issue? And what would the legal age to get married?
  2. Divorces: What shall be the grounds or under which act it will proceed. Not only that what about maintenance, and other laws.
  3. Adoption: The adoption process is the lengthiest and longest for even the married couples. Is it even possible that LGBTQ is allowed to adopt? Moreover, is not adoption then is, surrogacy can an option?
  4. Guardianship: If one is somehow allowed to have a kid or is somehow conceived a child, what would the guardianship laws
  5. Protection: If we step into reality, is there any protection available from society or relatives or one’s batchmates. Obviously for every little thing one cannot go to courts. Considering the mental state, what are the solutions available.
  6. Sex Education: Considering schools, there is zero sex education that is taught. Schools even skip ‘Reproduction’ chapters in Biology, sex education is a privilege. Not only that, there is even no cooperation from family or parents. Kids learn sex education via pornography in India. And when they are caught, they are beaten.
  7. Protection in the Workplace: Indeed, we have created job opportunities, we are really thankful. Even recently Odisha govt., for the very first time in Indian history created job posts for transgender. But what about the behaviour of people around them. Will the recruited LGBTQ people will be treated equally or they will be looked down on?
  8. Discrimination: Yes, we have also talked about discrimination in this Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019. But considering the history of ST/SC, Muslims, North Easterns, OBC, Race, Sex don’t we think the constitution is failing to protect these people from discrimination.
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Constitution with Cape:

Constitution is the only superhero who keeps fighting for all the discrimination, since the beginning of time. Considering and witnessing the situation of the country, this country needs a code or act completely dedicated to discrimination. Which have to deal with all the issues related to castes. One chapter needs to focus on discrimination against religion. Few chapters on women and few for LGBTQ.

Focusing on the LGBTQ Community, still many questions are unanswered.  In an interview with two anonymous people[6], they said one of their friends (he was Gay) went to lodge an FIR, but they ended up getting raped by the police officers which was an incident after the 2019 judgment. Not only this, some people, even ended up in mental institute and family abandons them.

Considering job opportunities, will people from LGBTQ will able to play roles in movies? As a lead maybe? Or still, general actors will play the roles for them. Indeed, the plots will be about the struggles of LGBTQ but actually, people from the community get roles in any movies. Except for Netflix, who others will show people as they are. Even the media, will we see any lead anchor from the LGBTQ and many more. It’s hard to say.

What’s Next?

Yes, the change needs time. The change in people will come eventually, but to survive the present we need laws. Discussing every year farming, reservation is needed, but amending few laws and bringing up new ones is also very important which no one considers. We are really an antiquary, that’s why we are still okay to run with laws from the 1860s.  We don’t even bother to simplify the laws in one line, but kept on going writing bare acts in swirls.

What I mean to say is, we need a lot of time to bring the change in ourselves but to launch any new law or rule we need some other laws to protect the new law which we have just launched. Hence, the process is slow but we need to focus on other issues too apart from reservation, farming, poverty etc. After all, it is a question of Human Rights and PRIDE is not only about a month; it is for a lifetime.

[1] 160 Delhi Law Times 277

[2] Centre’s Transgender Bill ridiculous, laments activist Akai Padmashali, Deccan Chronicle, (Nov 21, 2017, 6:22am IST), https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/in-other-news/211117/centres-transgender-bill-ridiculous-laments-activist-akkai-padmashali.html

[3] Press Trust of India, Lok Sabha passes transgender rights bill, INDIA TODAY, (Dec 17, 2018, 7:29 PM IST), https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/lok-sabha-passes-transgender-rights-bill-1411420-2018-12-17

[4] Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.

[5] LGBT+ PRIDE 2021 Global Survey, Ipsos Survey, (Conducted April 23, 2021 – May 7,2021), https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/ct/news/documents/2021-06/LGBT%20Pride%202021%20Global%20Survey%20Report_3.pdf

[6] Episode 7: Navtej Singh Johar vs UOI, METANOIA, Podcast on Spotify, (May 12 2021), https://open.spotify.com/episode/40oCHqAxH3D82vDTKWmrL2?si=gw0DG_ARQhqb7Ls0fZhnRg&dl_branch=1

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