Editor’s Pick

Queer Rights and governance

The celebration of June as LGBT Pride Month or Pride Month began after the Stonewall Riots in 1969 in New York City. Pride marches are held across the world to celebrate and honour this movement for LGBTQ+ rights.

In India, policies that uphold the rights of its LGBTQ+ citizens have developed slowly across the years. The notable instances are the 2014 NALSA (National Legal Service Authority) decision, wherein the court upheld everyone’s right to identify their own gender and legally recognized the ‘third gender’, the decriminalisation of private consensual sex between men by the Indian Supreme Court in 2018, and the judgement by the Madras High Court directing the state to ensure the wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ communities in 2021, banning the medical practice of conversion therapy.

This month at SPRF, we look through our archives to present to you a select few works that offer a glimpse into the lives of LGBTQ+ people across India, and how governance and policy making throughout the decade has shaped their lives. 

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Historically, the trans community has faced stigma, discrimination, violence, and social exclusion. This has also manifested in the form of health inequities leading to poor health outcomes, a high burden of mental health problems, and unmet healthcare needs. Within the umbrella term of ‘trans’, there exists a knowledge gap for trans men, those who are assigned female at birth but identify as male or with a transmasculine identity. As data on trans men in health research is universally absent, it becomes crucial to highlight the problems that trans men face in healthcare settings, either due to the lack of knowledge of healthcare providers, systematic discrimination, or fear of mistreatment in healthcare settings. This paper aims to highlight the research gap on trans men and the barriers they face in accessing quality healthcare in India through qualitative research analysis.

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For over a year now, Manipur has been in the clutches of ethnic-violence that has lead to large-scale displacement, injury, and death. This photo story, a time capsule, captures the lives of queer people and people living with HIV in the post-pandemic era.

“The places transgender, gay/queer men and gender non-binary persons led economic activities shut. The spaces they used to occupy shrunk. Without economic activity that sustains workspaces, their subsequent social circles, intimacies, and identities that thrive in such places vanished too.”

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Conversion therapy is defined as “any emotional or physical therapy used to ‘cure’ a person’s attraction to the same sex, or their gender identity and expression. Providers claim these therapies can make someone heterosexual or ‘straight’.”

The ban on conversion therapy needs a more comprehensive study to understand both its effect and efficacy. The provisions laid down by the court in S. Sushama v. Commissioner of Police, 2021 (HC 7284, 2021) only banned the medical practice of conversion therapy without criminalising the act of professing or practising the same.

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On January 9, 2024, the Madras High Court instructed the Tamil Nadu government to consider implementing a 1% horizontal reservation for the transgender community in education and public employment across all caste categories in the state (Banerjee, 2024). This directive, stemming from a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by transgender activist Grace Banu, could mark a significant stride toward inclusivity and acknowledgement for the transgender community. Similar petitions have also been filed at the Delhi HC (S, 2023) and the Rajasthan HC for horizontal reservations in education and employment.

Editor's pick curated by Adrita Choudhury