Pride Month has officially begun and so have the celebrations of the LGBTQ communities across the globe. This month of the year not only marks the existence and sexuality of the community, but also highlights the struggles of social outcasts they are subjected to. And even though the Supreme Court of India has decriminalised homosexuality in 2018, same-sex marriages are still not legal in India. So, when it comes to legal rights of the LGBTQ community in India, the battle is far from over. However, a lot of developments did happen in the last two years in the LGBTQ community that are worth revisiting. Let’s take a look:
Sruthy Sithara is the first Indian to win the Miss Trans Global title
Sruthy Sithara brought immense pride for Kerala as she became the first Indian to win the Ms Trans Global Universe 2021 title held during an online event. Born in Kottayam, Sruthy works as the project assistant at Kerala government’s transgender cell. Sharing about how she also has been subjected to harsh comments and achieved it after a long fight against prejudices galore and the narrow mindset of our society, she told The Times Of India, “I too have been subjected to various kinds of ‘treatment’ a transgender person would usually face from peers at school and college. My effeminate nature has often made me the butt of jokes and hurtful comments. There were many who found one reason or the other to poke fun at me, but I managed to handle it by changing the subject, laughing it off or acting as though I didn’t pay attention. I have hardly reacted to the mean comments aimed at me.”
Kerala High Court allowed lesbian couple to live together
On May 31 this year, Adhila Nasrin and Fatima Noora, a lesbian couple from Kerala, were allowed by the Kerala High Court to live together. The 22 and the 23-year-old were separated by their parents and physically and mentally tortured by their families. They have been in a relationship since school in Saudi Arabia. They finally got a nod from the bench of Justice Vinod Chandran on a habeas corpus plea filed by Nasrin.
India's first transgender clinic opened in Hyderabad
On January 29 and July 11, 2021, Telangana opened its first two exclusive transgender clinics in Hyderabad as part of the mandated Transgender Persons Act 2019 respectively. Due to the rise in HIV cases among transgenders in Hyderabad, the initiative to open the first clinic was taken here. Trans-activist Rachana Mudraboyina told Telangana Today, “The HIV prevalence among transgender here is 6.47 percent compared with the national average of 3.13 percent. India is a partner in the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) shared objectives on health outcomes and partners with the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) to eradicate AIDS by 2030. The USAID Accelerate project too is providing technical assistance to NACO in its efforts.”
Telangana’s first gay marriage
Even though same-sex marriages are not legal in India yet, it didn’t stop Telangana-based gay couple Abhay Dange and Supriya Chakraborty from entering the marital bliss. The duo got married in a private ceremony in December 2021, and it was attended by close friends, family and members of the LGBTQ community.
Nagpur’s lesbian couple gets engaged
Another Nagpur-based same-sex couple, Paromita Mukherjee and Surbhi Mitra got engaged on December 29 last year. The couple have also planned a wedding in Goa soon. Paromita told ANI, “We call this relationship a 'lifetime commitment'. We are planning our wedding in Goa. My father knew about my sexual orientation since 2013. When I told my mother recently, she was shocked. But later she agreed because she wants me to be happy.”
Designer Swapnil Shinde comes out as transgender
Last year on January 5, the designer formerly known as Swapnil Shinde, took to Instagram to announce herself as a transwoman, Saisha Shinde. She penned a long note stating that she’s not a gay, but a transwoman. It read, “Irrespective of your origin, there will always be something that reminds you of your childhood. For me, it takes me back to the kind of loneliness that aches, to pressures that pushed me into solitude and the chaos of confusion that grew every moment. All through school and college, while the boys outside tormented me because I was different, the internal pain was far worse. I felt suffocated living a reality that I knew wasn’t mine, yet one that I had to stage every day because of societal expectations and norms.”
Adding further she wrote, “It was only in my early ‘20s at NIFT where I found the courage to accept my truth; I truly bloomed. I spent the next few years believing that I was attracted to men because I was gay, but it was only 6 years ago that I finally accepted to myself, and today that I accept to you. I’m not a gay man. I am a Transwoman.”
Karnataka reserves teaching jobs for transgenders
The Department of Public Instruction has secured one percent reservation for primary school teachers from the transgender community. Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh told The New Indian Express, “We have called for recruitment of teachers, with reservation for transgenders. This is a significant step and we are hoping this will help the community join the mainstream.”