When Gourab Ghosh stepped into Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in 2006, he was denied hostel accommodation on the pretext that the university did not favour the presence of ‘effeminate’ men.
Seven years later, Ghosh has come forward to become the first homosexual candidate to contest elections at the university.
As a Student Federation of India (SFI) candidate for the post of JNUSU general secretary, Ghosh wants to usher in sensitivity towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community that has since “long been absent from campus”.
“The JNU campus is extremely homophobic and completely silent on the matter of LGBT issues.
None of the elected representatives have ever bothered to find out what issues we face.
GOURAB GHOSH, SFI candidate Despite being a progressive campus, the LGBT narrative has not been registered here. SFI, however, is openly fielding me as their candidate.
But even if I win, I won’t be able to work on this issue unless the JNU teachers’ association is willing to start a dialogue with me,” said Ghosh.
Like himself, there are scores of other students who are discriminated against for their sexual orientation, he claimed.
Even though the judgment against Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code in 2009 facilitated greater societal acceptance, Ghosh claimed JNU as an institution was far from accepting it.
He said basic facilities such as counselling and healthcare programmes were absent — a gap that he now wishes to address, if elected.
“One of the foremost issues that need to be addressed is lack of any sexual and reproductive health programme. We have a single mother on the campus here and there are others like her who need this facility. Other than that, I intend to form an LGBT group and form a counselling cell,” Ghosh said.