Finns and Indians do not share much in common as far as social inequality is concerned but the youth wing of Finland’s Social Democratic Party and the youth arm of India’s largest communist party, the CPI-M, want their respective governments to give more rights to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
At a time when young social democrats in the European nation are demanding separate gender identification in passports for the transgender, the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) has adopted a resolution demanding right to education, jobs and social equality for the LGBT community.
A special resolution adopted at the 10th DYFI national conference held in Kerala in early February has demanded special budgetary provisions for education of the transgender community. It also says the community should be “treated as socially and educationally backward classes and given reservation in jobs and education institutions like scheduled tribes, scheduled classes and other backward classes.”
“It is a crime to remain silent. Even our political-organisational report says that 4.88 lakh (according to the 2011 census) members of the transgender community in India - 56% of whom are illiterate and 26% belong to scheduled castes and tribes- should enjoy the same rights that the Constitution gives to others,” Abhoy Mukherjee, DYFI national general secretary, told HT.
DYFI has also demanded scrapping of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which treats homosexuality as crime.
The LGBT community has welcomed the solidarity the DYFI has expressed and offered to join the movement the CPI-M’s youth arm has planned. “We welcome the resolution. There is a well stated argument regarding transgender people and Section 377. People from the transgender community want skill building and employment,” said Pawan Dhall founding trustee of Varta Trust and former country director at Solidarity and Action Against the HIV Infection in India (SAATHII). “But only a quota won’t do. There should also be talks on some anti-discrimination law as well,” added Dhall, a national activist on LGBT issues.
Interestingly, it is Student’s Federation of India, the student wing of the CPI-M, which took the first step. In 2013, Gourab Ghosh made headlines as the SFI’s first gay candidate at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University student’s union election. “SFI included the gender agenda long before any organisation in India. In 2016, we decided to include the ‘others’gender option in our membership forms. In the last academic session, the SFI Kerala unit launched a campaign, giving the first membership to a transgender student. Now we have many members from the LGBT community,” said Mayukh Biswas, SFI national joint secretary.
“It is evident that political parties, too, are concerned. We neither belong to the Left nor to the Right but we are ready to join any movement. Reservation in jobs and education is necessary for this vulnerable community,” said Ranjita Sinha secretary, Association of Transgender/Hijras in Bengal.
She pointed out that though a Transgender Development Board has been set up by the Trinamool government, no major initiative has been taken so far. “The board performs under the women and child welfare department which has different priorities. West Bengal is lagging behind as far as welfare of the transgender is concerned,” added Sinha who is also member of the board.