The draft STIP’s inclusion of LGBT and gender is welcome
Why is it important for a State to be inclusive? Some would say that it is the basis of a welfare State. Others would say that the Constitution mandates it. Both arguments are valid. However, the new draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020, offers another reason. The draft policy shows how inclusiveness follows from rationality and a scientific temperament; in its demand for an equitable representation of women, disabled persons and other social, regional and economically diverse groups, as well as its recommendation for spousal benefits for partners of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons, “irrespective of their gender”.
The draft policy states that equity and inclusion should be a foundational element of the science ecosystem, and should be seen not only from the point of view of correcting historical injustices or compensating previous deprivations, but also to make a real impact, such as increasing the number of researchers, and helping socio-economic development. The draft policy also makes provisions for sensitisation on issues of gender, sexuality (among other things), as well as on sensitivities of various biases, visible and invisible.
The department of science and technology’s stated objective is that the policy must revolve around the core principles of being decentralised, bottoms-up, experts-driven, evidence-informed and inclusive. When it comes to non-straight, non cis-gendered communities, the experts are the very people themselves. Their lives are evidence of an unequal world, which withholds from them what is rightfully theirs. If the policy, in its current version, is accepted, it will go a long way in achieving its stated objectives.