Reshmi B S

Why We Should Support QUEER, a view through RAINBOW painted glass.

At this time when the LGBT equality movement is gaining pace across the world, each one of us might be thinking why I should or why we should support this cause. Some of us might be thinking in reference with the religious scriptures, some might have neutral views about this and some might be ignorant about this, but before discussing about LGBT we should know what LGBT or Queer is & why our support is important for them. We shall start with the basics, first of all what’s LGBT, LGBT is mainly an acronym used to refer gender variant minorities such as Lesbian gay bisexual and transgender. Another term used to refer this community is queer and queer means sexually different, referring to lesbian gay bisexual, transgender, Asexual and questioning communities, in short Queer is the term used to refer all the LGBTQA community in one word. Simplified these are people like us who just have different sexual preferences from us.

After the much awaited verdict of the U.S Supreme Court on legalizing same sex marriages throughout the nation, the ripples of change has moved across the world. Many Social networking platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and twitter have openly showed their support for the cause. Even the International Olympic committee has made an anti discriminatory law for the countries which are to host Olympics.

That’s the international news, now coming to national level, what’s the attitude of Indian government towards the gender variant communities, it’s as clear as the daylight, Our judiciary has criminalized the same sex relationships using IPC section 377 Chapter XVI, dating back to 1860, introduced during the British rule of India which criminalizes sexual activities "against the order of nature", arguably including homosexual acts. The section was declared unconstitutional with respect to sex between consenting adults by the High Court of Delhi on 2 July 2009. That judgment was overturned by the Supreme Court of India on 12 December 2013, with the Court holding that amending or repealing Section 377 should be a matter left to Parliament, not the judiciary. In addition to that in 2008 Additional Solicitor General PP Malhotra was known to hold an anti queer stand, and the similar view was shared by the home ministry of India. That’s the legal side of the issue; let’s come to the moral cultural & Socio economic status of the gender variants in India.

If we look upon the condition of the gender variants in India, it’s pathetic; a land which worships Ardha Nareeshwara, which has reference of transgender Shikandi in Mahabharata doesn’t even consider them as humans. Earlier Due to the outdated educational laws they were denied the right to quality education and gradually quality life, most of the transgender were forced to choose the life of sex workers. They were even deprived of the basic human rights. But since 2009 things have been getting better, India's election authorities allowed transgender to choose their gender as "other" on ballot forms. Last year, the Supreme Court declared the transgender community as a third gender and ordered the government to provide transgender people with quotas in jobs and education in line with other minorities, as well as key amenities, but even though government has recognized them the common people refuse to accept them as the part of the society, most of the common people still see them as sex workers, and they are being sexually abused. They are harassed both physically and mentally. Even though they are lot of NGOs to bring these queer communities into the forefront of the society, lack of enough funds is one among the problem they face. The other major problem they face the most is the Anti-queer attitude of the Indian workplaces, lot of mistreatments has been reported and sometimes just because of their different sexual preferences they are removed from their jobs without any reason. These work place harassments have caused the queer community to remove themselves from the social forefront.

The emotional aspect of the LGBT issue is that, when a person comes out as a queer the family refuses to accept the person; due to fear of shame they have to face from the society. Due to this they either abandon or shame them until they give up their identity and act as “normal” Or they are taken to the psychologists for the “treatment “. So lot of people refuses to come out reveal and accept their sexual identity. A queer individual has to go through immense emotional traumas through every stage of growth, and there is no proper support system in the society or family that would help them to ease their situation, in fact the unwritten laws of the society have only helped in worsening their situation. Past few years have witnessed increased rate of suicide number of queer people, the pressure from the family, the society and the inner turmoil have been the main reason for this. The family which instead of shaming and abandoning their queer sons and daughter should learn to accept them for who they are and be more compassionate and considerate to them so should be the society. Another problem is the same sex couple who are in love and who wish to get married are unable to do so due to criminalization of same sex relationships in India, which have lead the same sex couples to travel across the country to get married, where their marriage is recognized legally. So in general alongside with the achievement of certain milestones, certain attitude of people and government are yet to change.

Coming to the situation of gender variants in Kerala, even though Kerala is said to have 100% literacy rate, it still holds dogmas against same sex relationships. The transgender in Kerala are forced to leave the state to nearby state such as Tamilnadu or Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka because of the highly harassing and discriminating attitude of the people of Kerala. Many educated families still believe queer individual suffers from mental ailment and they need to be “treated”. Other ignorant belief is that once the queer girl/boy gets married to a normal boy/girl and have responsibilities the problem will go off naturally such are the misconception of an educated community. The workplaces of a Malayali community are famous for their zero tolerance to queers and their discriminating inconsiderate jokes .But due to the development of social platforms the queers of Kerala got opportunity to organize themselves and form groups and support systems for them such as Sahayathrika and Sahodhari which help them in the problems they face in the society. For past few years the queers of Kerala has come forward and have organized queer pride movement declaring their right to live with respect and love. Many such initiatives are coming up which will in turn better the condition of queers in the state.

Once again thanks to the queer supporting attitude of the social platforms such as Facebook, many people who were earlier ignorant about the existence of such group of people in the society are now coming to know about it. More and more people who were earlier reluctant to open up their identity are coming out from their closets and proudly revealing their identity. The queer people are now boldly trying to reach out to the society and fighting for their rights. Changes are happening gradually and people are coming to know more about it. But I would say knowing is not enough, we should be aware of their day to day hardships they face in this society, we should be more considerate and compassionate and most of all should support them. Just because they have different sexual preference doesn’t make them any different from us. They are also humans and they also have right to love and live life like us. They also have the freedom for basic human rights such a good job and quality education. They also deserve to be treated equally without any stigmas or discrimination. They also deserve to be treated with much respect and finally we should all understand we all are humans, we all are one.