Life has not ben easy for the LGBTQ+ community in India, even though the law has recognised them with a legal, gender identity of their choice. The stigma and discrimination against LGBT+ individuals continue in private and public spaces, despite governmental and non-governmental agencies taking efforts to spread awareness on the cause.
However, in a year that was harsh for everyone, the LGBT+ community in India had a few moments in the Sun. Do check out a few of the developments which gave a boost to the sexual minorities of India in the past year.
Separate ward for COVID-19 cases
As COVID-19 cases started rising, in July, the states of Telangana and West Bengal made separate wards for transgender persons who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who need to be tested for the infection. (So far, Indian hospitals have had only male-wards and female-wards.)
Vayjanti Vasanta Mogli, a founding member of Telangana Hijra, Intersex and Transgender Samiti, had filed a Public Interest Litigation regarding the creation of these separate wards. Thereafter, a division bench of the Telangana High Court directed the state government to ensure that people of the community are provided free medical aid in hospitals, if they get infected by Coronavirus.The transgender people who do not have access to medication for hormone therapy will also receive medicines sponsored by the state. In West Bengal, this decision was announced after Ranjita Sinha, a Member of the West Bengal Transgender Board and Bappaditya Mukherjee, founding member of Prantakatha, wrote to the Health Ministry regarding the same.
Trans in a name
In June, the Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) renamed the Sector 50 Metro Station as ‘Rainbow Station’ after facing criticism for initially naming it ‘She Man.’ The pillars of this metro station have been painted in rainbow colours, in solidarity with the community. According to Ritu Maheshwari, the Managing Director of NMRC, renaming the station will help raise awareness and instill sensitivity amongst people around the transgender community. “As per Census 2011, there are 4.9 lakh transgenders in India out of which 30,000-35,000 stay in NCR. The move will be an important step in providing meaningful inclusion and participation of the transgender community,” she had said.
Tamil Nadu relaxes rules
In July, the Tamil Nadu Home Department made headlines when it decided to relax the rules concerning age limit for transgender persons applying for jobs in the State’s police department. The relaxation is similar to the one provided to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates who apply for recruitments through the Tamil Nadu Uniformed services recruitment board. This decision was taken considering the fact that the social stigma against transgender individuals often force many of them to drop out of school, and hence finish their education much later in life.
Teaching teachers about LGBT+ lives
In July, North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) said that it will train its teachers on understanding transgender identities. The programme includes subjects like understanding transgender terminology and also how teachers can create an inclusive environment. The curriculum also aims to shatter stereotypes and misconceptions around this sensitive subject, and elaborates on what it means to be a transgender person in school. This exercise received an overwhelming response, and 1,000 teachers were trained in the first two days through webinar. These teachers have stated that this programme helped them understand the needs of transgender children.
UP Transgender Welfare Board
In September, the Uttar Pradesh government announced that it will establish a Transgender Welfare Board under the state’s Social Welfare Department. This came soon after the state government granted transgender people the right to inherit their ancestral agricultural land. The Board will include transgender representatives and the members of the social organisations working for the welfare of the transgenders. The board is responsible for identifying transgender people, enlisting them, issuing identity cards, enrolling them to various educational institutions, and providing them with accommodation at various hostels and housing schemes listed under the state government.
National Portal for Transgender Persons
In November 2020, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched a portal to empower the transgender community, by enabling them to get their chosen gender identity certified online. The new portal – named ‘The National Portal for Transgender Persons’ – allows transgender individuals to upload affidavit declaring their “self-perceived” gender identity, avoiding having to visit government offices physically. Once the application is received online, the identity card will be issued to the individual in 30 days and this identity will be the used in all subsequent official documents.