THEY TOO NEED HELP: LGBTQ is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning. These terms are used to describe a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In India we commonly call them hijra and welcome them for their blessings for certain auspicious occasions.
It was Pride Month in June which is celebrated by the LGBTQ community. But what is Pride Month, Our Special Correspondent ASMA TORGAL in Belgavi bothered to find out….only to discover how the people of another gender are dismissed and discriminated against when it comes to equality and justice in times of need.
THE entire month of June is devoted to uplifting LGBTQ recognition, celebration, voices of LGBTQ rights and brace LGBTQ culture. The whole month (especially in the US) is traditionally filled with parades, drag performances, protests, performances, live theatre, celebrating the lives of the others amongst this community seeking a right to live and be happy in countries which still have to come to terms with it.
It is a celebration of all that the LGBTQ community has achieved in the past years. The community’s flag is made up of a rainbow of colours created by artist Gilbert Baker in 1978. This flag is a symbol of LGBTQ pride, with each colour on the flag having its own meaning. The six-color flag includes red as a symbolic of life, orange as a symbolic of spirit, yellow as sunshine, green as nature, blue as harmony and purple representing the human spirit.
Although every year the Pride Month is celebrated with pomp and ceremony, it was not possible to celebrate it because of the Covid-19 pandemic and had to be cancelled last year. However, this year many pride marches were on although low and restricted, maintaining a low profile.
The community members tried to celebrate in small ways. The Pride 2021 theme is “The Fight Continues.” Most of us may not know that in India there is a Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill which was passed by Parliament on November 26, 2019. The bill defines a “trans person” as someone whose gender does not match the one assigned at birth. The bill prohibits discrimination against them with reference to employment, education, housing, healthcare and other services.
It is the right thing to do and so now we have these niche of Indians living proudly in professions and getting the recognition they deserve on merit rather than anything else. Society accepts this group of people.
One of them is Gautam Rajpal. He confesses, “I never felt attracted towards opposite sex, compared to my friends who dated girls. For ages, I thought something was wrong with me. There was no depiction nor validation for somebody like me. People used disparaging slurs towards me on a daily basis which anguished me. During those times, my mother supported me to the core. She encouraged me to not get affected by negative people around me. Overcoming all of it, I became a force to reckon with academically and a generalist. My college provided an open and accepting space, which made me a confident person. Through experiences I learned that the opinion of other people doesn’t matter if you have a strong faith in you. I also confessed to my parents when I realized my identity and blissfully they accepted me. World is a better place now!”
This year with covid-19 lockdowns hitting everyone members of the community were also affected, including the transgender community. In Karnataka where I live the livelihood of several members of the transgender community suffered for a lot of their major source of income is begging or performing at ceremonies. Many ran out of the basic supplies and couldn’t cope with their daily needs.
While the rest of society managed to get help the transgender community was ignored! So the Yuva Bengaluru Trust, a Bengaluru-based NGO organised grocery-kits and donatedthem across urban and rural areas and met the needs of nearly 1,500 members (still counting) and focused on these people who were left out of mainstream aid from government or the NGOs who were getting large grants of donations in cash and in kind.
The community is now crowdsourcing for funds to keep themselves provided with essential groceries at least as well as other essentials of day to day living. The struggle is real for this sector of people don’t have Aadhaar cards or any other government IDs to benefit from anything. Sadly, they are not even eligible for COVID-19 vaccines to protect themselves from the deadly virus. This is very serious because no authority is addressing this very real problem.
If only more people would get involved in this social cause! Either working for them or attending to their needs. Lend a helping hand or donate to the community and remember no contribution is too big or too small, it’s the thought and deed which matters. It’s all about moving forward in equality, leaving nobody behind limping for want of life’s primary human rights.
Moving towards equality is something also for lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender folk who also also often dismissed as queers. In India this community has gained a huge tolerance and acceptance, especially in the metro centres.
Yet the community faces subtle and gross difficulties in many parts of the country where they are looked down upon – it is a major issue of being discriminated against because nature has made them different physiologically and emotionally. Please remember that there is an Article 15 in our Indian Constitution, Article 15, 1949.
It says prohibition or discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth is illegal. If normal women and men have the right to live in this society with respect then why not every person howsoever different superficially? Humanity says we must respect them. It is not about what religion says but what humanity says!
As a matter of fact even our Hindu religious texts say that Lord Rama had given a boon to the hijra people for their loyalty. This must mean a lot to human beings who don’t want to be cursed by a hijra. Everyone in this world has equal rights to live as best as they can in society and is worthy of consideration and assistance if the occasion arises and irrespective of any gender identity.