Queer InFocus | June II ’19


Queer InFocus is a bimonthly roundup of queer news in India.

Amritsar holds first ever Pride parade

24th June, 2019

Roughly 75 LGBTQ+ activists marched through Amritsar, the first pride parade the city has seen, to celebrate Pride month. A parade of this kind is believed to be the first in Punjab, outside of Chandigarh. The Pride parade was organised by two 18-year-old students, and despite there being confused and negative reactions from onlookers, hopes and spirits were high for all those marching. Gurleen Arora, an LGBTQ+ activist, noted the importance of a beginning being made, with an evolution on the horizon.

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Same sex couples in India lack basic financial rights

25th June, 2019

There are huge barriers for LGBTQ+ couples and partners, with no legal documentation being available to prove their relationship, which causes many other financial complications. Unlike their heterosexual counterparts, gay couples cannot back each other’s live through life insurance or benefit from shared health insurance policies, and there are no provisions for joint loans. However, LGBTQ+ Indians are being resourceful and creative to get around the issue. Some LGBTQ+ partners buy small flats separately side by side, and knock down the adjoining wall. Social media groups are also an important resource, such as GHAR (Gay Housing Assistance Resource). There is a huge need for banks and financial institutions to be more LGBTQ+ friendly and inclusive.

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Despite social marriage, gay couples still yearn for legal rights

25th June, 2019

While many LGBTQ+ couples can go through the social requisite of marriage in India of having a ceremony, the legal aspect is still missing, with an absence of rights for queer spouses. For some, it is easier to travel abroad and get legally married in another country, but the rights need to be made legal in India. Earlier in the year, the Madras High Court ruled that the term ‘bride’ in the Hindu Marriage Act would be inclusive of trans women. Although this is a step in the right direction, it still operates in the heteronormative framework of traditional marriage. Aditya, one of the members of the team that drafted the PIL to decriminalise Section 377 in 2009, believes that the community must seek help from the judiciary, in order to gain their fundamental rights with respect to marriage equality.

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Welcoming LGBTQs and acid attack survivors, these job fairs aim to step up corporate India’s inclusivity 

27th June, 2019

Two jobs fairs in India are set to launch next month: RISE (organised by The Pride Circle) on 12th July in Bangalore, and Vividh (organised by Six Degrees) on 28th July in Mumbai. Both job fairs look to tackle discrimination faced by the LGBTQ+ community in India. Over half of the nearly 5-10% of LGBTQ+ employees have reported discrimination in the workplace, and the inclusion of diverse job fairs will hopefully set a trend for companies to develop more LGBTQ+ friendly workplace policies.

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LGBTQI cinema in India: a slow emergence

28th June, 2019

With there being a long history of queer cinema around the globe, it can seem like India is just starting to catch up. But for over 10 years, the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, has become an important space for queer, marginalised voices. While queer actors are still few and far between, writers like Gazal Dhaliwal are making great advances, having co-written ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’ on a lesbian relationship, as well as writing ‘A Moonsoon Date’ (shown at the film festival), drawing upon her own life experiences.

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A ‘pride’ that roared on the streets of Kolkata yet again

29th June, 2019

20 years after 15 people gathered in the heart of Kolkata as part of a pride walk dubbed the ‘Friendship Walk’, those same 15 people, along with the rest of Kolkata’s LGBTQ+ community, came together to mark the anniversary of the landmark event. The celebrations were inaugurated by a walk, and these allowed reflections to be made by the community. Raina Roy, an activist, stated that a year before the Friendship Walk, transwomen and sex workers marched on the streets and the contributions of those most marginalised in the community should not be forgotten.

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India’s First Openly Gay Prince Celebrating World Pride in New York

30th June, 2019

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil was the keynote speaker of World Pride’s Human Rights Conference. Manvendra has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in India. World Pride was held in New York this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, with a large global platform through parades, festivals and other cultural activities.

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With June being Pride month in many places around the world, India was beaming with pride through two significant parades: one celebrating a landmark anniversary, and the other the start of a new legacy. More pride parades, as well as diverse job fairs, queer-friendly cinema etc, means more visibility for the LGBTQ+ community, but it is important for us to remember who has access to these spaces, and who benefits from them within the community. Our community must think about those most marginalised, such as sex workers and trans people, and whether they themselves have the same access to these spaces as the rest of us do.

Harshil Shah is a Research Assistant with the Queer Resource Centre at One Future Collective.

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