They want change in Bengal. Not political but social. The Lesbian Gays Bisexual Transsexual (LGBT) community in the state is in favour of the Left Front government, but expect a more pragmatic approach while addressing the concerns faced by the community.
Instead of mere verbal assurance of supporting the decriminalisation of same-sex relationships, the community expects the political system to take definite steps to prevent harassment in different walks of life.
But why such faith on the Left, under whose governance the Singur and Nandigram incidents took place? Jayita Sarkar, a teacher and an activist associated with the lesbian organisation Sappho, said, "The landmark judgement by the Delhi high court was welcomed by only the Left parties, especially by CPI(M) general secretary, Prakash Karat and CPI leader D Raja. On the contrary, at that time, both Congress and Trinamool refrained from making any comment probably out of fear of political backlash in their conservative vote bank," said Sarkar.
LGBT rights activist and the country director of Solidarity and Action Against the HIV Infection in India (Saathii), Pawan Dhall, said, "On an average 10% of adult males have same-sex orientation. In case of lesbians, the number is 6%."
"In Left-ruled Bengal, incidences of harassment in the hands of state machinery is less than other states such as UP, MP or even the capital city. So, the Left is a known devil. But it should also adopt a more pragmatic approach," Sarkar said.
Will you ask your fellow activists to vote for the Left? Sarkar said, "My work is not to scout for votes for any party. I can only project facts and voters will use logic and decide."
Dhal said, "Has the Left-ruled state government here done anything to prevent harassment of transsexuals? No. Currently there are many legal provisions, which ensure protection of sexual minorities. Has the Left done anything to sensitise the state machinery about these legal provisions? No. Change is necessary in any democracy. Why should we fear that our rights would be violated if there is a change in the political system?"
Fashion choreographer and gay rights activist Amit Pandey feels his personal experience under the Left rule has been good. "I will vouch for the Left. My personal interactions with many Left leaders have been extremely cordial and I was never discriminated for my orientation."
He added, "I am a human being first. But I cannot support what the Left did in Nandigram, which was complete violation of human rights. I want a pragmatic Left with a more democratic approach. I will ask my brothers in the community to vote for Left."