Yes, the 377 has been sorted, but there’s still more to the LGBTQ+ community than just homosexuality.
Rights, for centuries has been nothing more than an empty word for the LGBTQ+ community. They have been denied basic rights like Right to Dignity, Personal Liberty, Health, Education, and even the Freedom of Expression. The Keshav Suri Foundation which aims to work towards the upliftment of the marginalised LGBTQ+ community, is a step in that direction.
While the Supreme Court’s historic verdict might have decriminalised homosexuality and paved the way for same-sex couples to legally cohabit and conduct their personal affairs without fear of persecution but it did not automatically translate into a seamless transition to equality for the lesbian gay bisexual transgender queer (LBGTQ) community. For while it has opened the doors for several changes to be introduced to marriage, medical, adoption and inheritance laws for same-sex couples but legal experts says that even though the judgement was historic, same-sex couples still have an uphill task ahead of them. The verdict is indicative of consequential revolutionary changes, but these don’t follow automatically. The government now needs to act on this and frame laws to allow same-sex marriages or adoption by LBGTQ couples.
Advocate Neeha Nagpal, who is a practicing lawyer at the Supreme Court for over 10 years, says, “Although the onus is on the government to formulate legislation permitting LGBTQ couples to marry, adopt and inherit their spouse’s property, this verdict lays down the legal basis for the formulation of such legislation. At the same time, individuals who face discrimination because of their sexual orientation can now count on the Judiciary.”
The fact that we can be proud of the country today, is because of the Supreme Court’s verdict which has finally put an end to all the worthless conversations. Now is the time to have a conversation about how to move forward, become more inclusive and equal because one thing is to change the law and the other is to change what’s in people’s mind.
Advocate Saurabh Kripal says, “Once this judgement stands the test of time and people accept the homosexual relationships, I think it’ll become a new normal and once it becomes normal then we can ask for something a bit more abnormal which will then again become a normal. Don’t push the pace of change because everyone knows slow and steady always wins the race. I think there’s a inherent human desire to push as much they possibly can but remember we must distinguish between the political space and the judicial space. We need to give time in order to get what we desire.”
“I strongly feel employment and medical are the major issue which we have to fight for. If your partner falls ill and you aren’t married you might not be able to take a combined medical policy. For this you need to have a positive action which will happen but will take time. Nevertheless you need extra rights to bring everyone up, equal and in power. The only solution is to go back to court, and I think the court is ready to face it. The court has laid down the judgement which is a very broad in framework. Now it will think beyond 377,” adds he.
Keshav Suri, executive director of The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, who launched the foundation is excited about the endeavour and he says, “We are glad that Section 377 has been read down. However, we have merely scratched the surface. Building on the success of the It Gets Better campaign, the Keshav Suri Foundation will illustrate how it can get improve in the Indian context. The foundation aims to provide employable skills to the community and sensitise organisations on incorporating more diverse and inclusive practices. The idea at the foundation is to give individual attention to all members. Each story is different and every person has baggage. Counsellors will evaluate each individual, basis of their story. They will then be helped to achieve a skill set best suited to their personality in order to earn a livelihood and lead a life of dignity. Role models from the LGBTQ+ community will also interact with members. This is being planned to help lift the self-esteem and morale of all. These efforts are all centred around one goal — usher the community into mainstream society by putting an end of discrimination.”
The motto of the foundation is to embrace, empower, and mainstream the community. It is building a discrimination free platform, enabling community members to share their stories and stigmas – physical, emotional or mental.
Alex Mathew, better known as Maya the drag queen who outed himself as a gay man in October 2014 says, “Things got better after I met Keshav Suri, who has changed my life completely. Because of him, I’m now currently working as a PR and marketing executive at The Lalit Ashok Bangalore.
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a transgender rights activist, faced many difficulties and challenges in life. But things improved for her when she had the guts to say ‘NO’ to the abusive behaviour of people towards her and when she found her husband in Anjali Gopalan. Laxmi says, “Anjali has taught me to speak my mind. I was like an animal in a cage where trans community member said, ‘Oh she’s divine’ but normal people treated me like a piece of waste. The day I got to know the reason of their hatred towards me, people loved me so much that they hated me. It got better when I was exposed to this different world (LGBTQ community). When there were was a controversy about me being a bad woman, I said good girls go to heaven whereas bad girls go everywhere. I have the power to go everywhere.”
Satyashri Sharmila who hails from Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu is India’s first transgender woman to enroll as a lawyer in the TN bar council. She says that, “Change is the only constant and it begins from home. The family must start accepting their child for who they are. When you have support from your parents and your family you can fight all the battles. I’m so glad that Keshav has his mother by his side all the time supporting him and he’s so blessed to have a mother like her. If I had someone like her, trust me, my journey would have been so much easier. Family is the first frontier.”
In response, Jyotsna Suri, chairperson and managing director of Bharat Hotels Limited and mother of Keshav says, “Its the primary point. Unless parents don’t support their children, we are not going to make a change. It’s not the politicians, not even the judiciary, it is we the people of India who have to make that difference. Judiciary has done it’s part by decriminalising. We have to begin from home.”
Writer: Ayushi Sharma
Source: The Pioneer