Study reveals discrimination of gender, sexual minorities
The study was conducted in five areas — health, education, housing, public spaces and political formations—by researchers across the country.
•Mental healthcare is a low priority among non-normative identities; there is a crisis, which has not been acknowledged
•If your sexuality is not linked to reproduction, your experience with a health care professional is not likely to be smooth
•Persons with non-normative identities downplay the bullying they face, there is no redressal mechanism to address this
•Gender segregation within higher educational campuses lends itself to toxic masculinity
These are a few of the findings thrown up by a two-year study on discriminations faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other persons of non-normative genders and sexualities. These were discussed at a two-day conference which began on Thursday at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
The study was conducted in five areas — health, education, housing, public spaces and political formations—by researchers across the country. Titled ‘Exp- loratory Study on Discrimination of Non-Normative Genders and Sexualities’, the study is housed in the Advanced Centre of Women’s Studies in TISS and funded by the Ford Foundation.
The researchers shared their findings through presentations, papers, exhibitions, monographs and even a theatrical production. More such meetings will take place over the following months in Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata.
Introducing the larger study, urban researcher Gautam Bhan, who was part of the team which researched on housing, said: “This is not your usual discrimination study—there is a diversity in our approach to discrimination. At the heart of this project is to create an archive of the lives of people.”
The study on housing includes an analysis of rental policies through the famous Zoroastrian Cooperative Society case of 2005, which provided wide ranging power to housing societies to decide who would live in them. It also includes a podcast series of the life stories of people living and renting in Delhi, in a bid to understand what constitutes the normative, and how queer homes flourish and thrive.
Introducing the research on higher educational facilities, academician and rights activist Chayanika Shah said, “Education has always been about making you successful in society, but successful for what? Thoughtful education needs to pay attention to this question.” The team will come out with a book — Space. Segregation. Discrimination — in August, which looks at the architecture and planning of five higher educational campuses, including an Indian Institute of Management, an Indian Institute of Technology, a law institute, a social sciences school and a design school. It examines the subtle ways in which such spaces exclude people along the lines of caste, gender and sexualities.
The research on health was conducted in two areas—biomedicine and health care, and health care discrimination experienced by non-normative identified persons in South India. The former included interviews with medical practitioners, students, and public health researchers and looked at how bias is in-built in undergraduate medical curriculum.
The second health study was based on interviews with 183 persons, and threw up many real-life stories of intentional harm and untouchability which persons with non-normative identities faced at the hands of medical practitioners. These studies form an important archive of the lived realities of many Indians, and have come at an important time.
The SC’s constitutional bench is expected to revisit the matter of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises non-penile vaginal intercourse.