Photo curtesy MINT
LGBTQ stands for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer or sometimes Questioning community. This term was coined in the 1980s but people were unaware of the full meaning of these terms. But this has changed in the 21st century.
Be it awareness or acceptance our society has evolved its outlook towards the LQBTQ community, but still, there is a long way to go to establish equality, and remove injustice for them.
Members of the LGBTQ community celebrate pride month in June annually to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots and work to achieve equal justice and opportunity. The awareness, acceptance, integration, and rights of the LGBTQ vary from one country to another.
For example, Nigeria, Qatar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia are some countries where there are no rights for the LGBTQ community. Whereas in the USA Supreme courts have legalized many LGBTQ+ rights, jobs, and other facilities.
In India, the laws regarding the LGBTQ community have progressed in recent times. On 6 September 2018, India’s Supreme Court Invalidated Section 377 of the Indian constitution and legalized consensual homosexuality.
The youth of India including the people not belonging to this community has taken many steps such as pride parades to create awareness amongst people. Interviewing Ms. Manisha Ray, a 3rd year English Honors student from Delhi, brought about many interesting and heartwarming information about the pride parade.
She has attended the pride parade in Delhi. It is an all-inclusive parade. There are many fun activities such as face painting, body painting, singing, dancing, performances, and demonstrations going on. People say slogans relating to the LGBTQ+ and enjoy. The Pride Flag that is the rainbow flag is waived and showcases their pride towards their sexuality.
She thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Pride parades were more of a western concept prevailing mostly in the USA and Europe, but now it has started in many countries. In India, many cities have started their pride parade in June.
Regarding the sensitivity of Indians towards the LGBTQ+, people from the rural areas still believe that it is unnatural. Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia are deeply embedded into their minds leading to a whole spectrum of derogatory practices. A survey, conducted by Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance in 2019, across 12 cities in India, revealed that 56% of Indians would refuse an organ from a homosexual person while 54% believe that LGBTQ persons should not be allowed to donate organs at all.
The rural people are far from accepting homosexuality as they are illiterate. Honor killings, family sanctioned corrective rapes, physical abuse, and conversion therapy are common news in these areas. Whereas in the urban areas the situation is more positive. People are more accepting and willingly hear the voices, demands, and needs of the LGBTQ community via social media, pride parades, and meetups.
The youth is more aware and accepting but family members are still new to the idea of homosexuality and a lot of stigmas persist in our society. People are scared to come out as homosexuals as they are afraid of their families. Family members just shrug it off by saying things like “it’s just a phase”, “you are just confused”, “it’s just a trend”, and “it’ll go away with time”. This affects the mental health of the individuals.
Some people just show society that they are accepting just to look “progressive” but in their hearts, they are still homophobic. If their children ever come out to them they will never accept them.
So, there is still a huge amount of work needed to transform Indian society to make it more accommodating towards the LGBTQ+
Hence the sensitivity of rural India towards the LGBTQ is very limited whereas the urban population is accepting.
While interviewing a few Indians from different backgrounds on what they feel about the LGBTQ Community, a huge array of answers came up.
Some people said that they have a lot of Gay friends and they enjoy their company and feel safe with them. They support the LGBTQ cause and fully support their campaign. During this year’s pride month some of them along with their friends had done a makeup challenge on Instagram. They had painted their faces with makeup, each person denoting the color of the Pride flag. This was done to showcase the meaning of each color in the flag and to spread awareness among the masses.
The other section of the people is still reserved towards the LGBTQ. They don’t mind having friends belonging to that community or interacting with members of the community. But they do not want any members of their family to be a part of the LGBTQ.
Whereas the others are still against the LGBTQ and believe that parades and other programs promote other people to go against the law of nature.
Hence this shows the dual nature of man.
But if we look at the larger picture, India has developed its attitude towards homosexuality massively in recent years. Draconian colonial laws relating to homosexuality have been nullified which is a great victory for the LGBTQ community. People have become more aware and use the correct pronoun to address people from this community.
A survey conducted by World Values Survey showed that between 1990 and 2014 the share of Indians who believed “homosexuality is never justified” fell from 89% to 24%. This shows the huge progress India has made.
Even now same-sex marriage is not legal in India. But after the decriminalization of Article 377, it is just a matter of time. Indians have come a long way in integrating their society but still, there is a long way to go.