In September 2018, People belonging to the LGBTQIA community in India celebrated after the country in the landmark decision, the supreme court that finally struck down a 19th-century law criminalizing homosexuality in India. It was an essential moment for the community rights which not only revered a relic of British oppression but also ordered that the LGBTIQ community Indians will be accorded with all the protections of their constitution.
This was a welcome victory which does not necessarily mean that the people belonging to this community in India are fully free or perceived as equal to other citizens. It didn’t lead to an end to the struggle faced by the LGBTQIA community for quality and protection. Across the country, they still face legalized discrimination especially when it comes to parenting, job, or housing.
Here are some battles for equality that are still being fought by the members of the community across the country.
Both physical and psychological crimes against the LGBTQIA community are still prevalent across the country. A survey conducted by Swasti Health Resource center in five Indian states concluded that from 8,549 respondents, 8.9% have faced sexual violence, 14% emotional violence, and 9% physical violence.
Also, it was seen from the study that more than half of the community members who face sexual abuse (55%), emotional violence (46.5%), and physical violence (52.4%) were still living with their parents. In contrast, it was revealed from the study that individuals who were living with peers or partners faced very little violence
India has an LGBTQIA population of approximately 2.5 million according to data shared by the government. Even after the strength of the community is huge in number, they have always been a victim of discrimination and social stigma. After the decriminalization of draconian section 377 in 2018, the community still struggles for basic rights such as adoption and marriage. In 2019, a review plea seeking marriage, surrogacy, and adoption rights of the community was dismissed by the supreme court.
However, there is no bar on adoption by the single person of the community, the law of the land is conducive to adoption by same-sex couples. Under the existing laws, one of the partners of the same-sex couples can adopt as a single parent which deprives the other one of any legal rights over the child.
3. Gay Conversion Therapy
In recent times, India is facing prolonged backlash from its LGBTQIA community on the issue of the continued use of conversion therapies used to “Cure” homosexuality by changing the individual’s sexual orientation. An incident that highlights the atrocities faced by the members of the community. A 21year old, Anjana Hareesh who committed suicide. It is alleged that there might be a link between her suicide and the fact that she was forced to take conversion therapy by family members for months after coming out as bisexual to them which came out after a Facebook video was shared by her claiming that she was being coercively subjected to conversion therapy.
Recently, Albania and Canada criminalized conversion therapy. Moreover, nine countries have drawn bills concerning the same. Countries such as Malta, Ecuador, and Brazil already have a nationwide ban against conversion therapy.
4. Employment Discrimination
Earlier the community members could be fired from their workplace based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. This highlights that regardless of ability or job performance, an individual can be fired from a job if their boss gets to know or find out about their real identity.
However, the “India Workplace Equality index (IWEI)” has been publicized as the country’s first benchmark tool for employers to measure their progress on LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace that has shown 65 private organizations sharing their data on diversity and practices of inclusion at the workplace. It measures nine areas that include employee lifecycle, policies and benefits, allies and role models, employee network group, monitoring, senior leadership, procurement, additional work, and community engagement.
5. Housing Discrimination
As seen and known that the community members are deprived of the basic rights as well as have a red flag on their job due to which earning and having a decent lifestyle can also be difficult. This concern can be compounded when the members of the community can also be denied housing based on their identities. One of the reasons for facing this hurdle could be the social stigma attached to it.
6. Bathrooms, Schools, and Other Public Accommodations
The battle over public washrooms has become a flashpoint and a symbol as well for the right movements of the community members in recent years. The heart of the issue could be the right of the community members to public accommodations, schools, and other aspects that are safe o access to services, good privileges, and facilities in the public sphere. That’s to be taken into consideration that the battle is being fought by the members to have the right to use all of the facilities as the rest of the individuals use in such a way that accommodates their needs.
7. Unequal Healthcare
The community is still fighting for better access to healthcare facilities, and for equal treatment by health insurance companies and medical professionals which can block individual’s access to health care. The youth of LGBTQIA are more likely to suffer from health issues because of mental health concerns and substance abuse whereas trans individuals may face discrimination from health insurance companies for being identified as trans.
8. Criminal Justice
Queer individuals do face high rates of discrimination in prisons, where trans inmates might have a grueling history of abuse including being put in solitary confinement allegedly for their protection. The US prison population has twice the number of LGBTIQ individuals as the non-incarnated population that suggests that these community members are overrepresented in jails. The number is even higher for those in juvenile detention.
The decriminalizing of homosexuality in India has ensured the acceptance of sexual minorities while taking a few steps further in living with dignity. The undoing of section 377 has ensured more confidence among the community members leading to self-confidence and steady growth of the country proving that the country has been changing and changing the attitude of the individuals in general.
Decriminalization has helped in acceptance by society and the families of the community members. Though there is still a little bleak in acceptance it will also improve with time and the further amendments relating to this section and in favor of the community.
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