Delhi University doesn’t care much for its LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students. DU may be all geared up to fight sexual harassment and ragging, but when it comes to issues faced by lesbian and gay students on campus, the authorities are clueless. Just like a lot of its British counterparts.
According to Gay by Degrees, a students guide published by Stonewall, a group that campaigns for sexual equality and justice, only four universities in the UK create an environment that makes gay students feel safe out of the closet. For the survey, 160 universities were judged on the basis of whether they had made special provisions to protect LGBT students from bullying, and formed committees to look into their interests and so on.
A check across the campus shows that DU colleges don’t fare well either, as per these guidelines. “We don’t have a separate committee for the students of the LGBT community. But, students may approach other committees that deal with general complaints,” says Prof JM Khurana, dean, students’s welfare.
The students’s union is not interested either. “We support Indian culture and are against all this (talk about gay rights). Hum isko badhaawa nahi de sakte hain,” says Jitender Chaudhary, president, DUSU.
The few gay students willing to share their experience choose to remain anonymous. “Only my closest friends in college are aware of my sexual orientation. I am not comfortable disclosing it because I am afraid of all the scandal it will create. Some colleges are really homophobic,” says a student of a South Campus college. However, some colleges are making an effort. “We don't have a separate committee, but our sexual harassment committee has members who are chosen for their sensitivity to such issues. Our Women’s Development Cell conducts talks on notions of sexuality,” says Kanika Khandelwal, media coordinator, Lady Shri Ram College.
Still a long way to go Delhi-based initiative Queer Campus and MINGLE (Mission for Indian Gay and Lesbian Empowerment) conducted a survey across colleges in India this year to explore issues of harassment and coming out of the closet. Here are the results:
LGBT students say they often miss classes due to harassment or bullying
90% of respondents reported hearing anti-gay slur in their colleges
Only 32% students have told classmates about their sexual orientation and only 14% have told their professors
21% students who have told their professors, say they have faced discrimination from them.