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Pride Month: My family calls me a fallen human, says LGBTQ activist

Gay activists Parmesh Shahani and Nitasha Biswas speak up for LGBTQ rights on the concluding day of June, observed as Pride Month.

punjab Updated: Jul 01, 2018 14:05 IST
Aneesha Bedi
Aneesha Bedi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Parmesh Shahni and Nitasha Biswas at the pride parade organised at Indian School of Business in Mohali on Saturday.(Sikander Chopra/HT)

In a country where Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) criminalises homosexual relations, can that take away from them the right to work?

Organisations need to ensure equal opportunities to all and not discriminate against anyone for their sexual preferences, prominent voices from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community have said.

Students during a pride parade to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) culture and pride, at Indian School of Business, Mohali on Saturday. (Sikander Chopra/HT)

Gay activists Parmesh Shahani, head of the Godrej India Cultural Lab, and Nitasha Biswas, the country’s first ‘transqueen,’ spoke up for LGBTQ rights on the concluding day of June, observed worldwide as Pride Month.

Speaking ahead of a ‘pride parade’ at Mohali’s Indian School of Business (ISB), Kolkata-born Biswas stressed on the need to not categorise them as LGBTQ ‘community’ but as ‘humans.’

Lauding the UT administration’s proposal to appoint transgenders as conductors on buses transporting schoolchildren to ensure their safety, the 27-year-old said it was important to reach out the rural gay community in this way.

What the LGBTQ community needs?
  • Equal opportunity policies for all and not discriminating on basis of sexual orientation
  • Making anti-harassment polices
  • Equal benefits to same sex partners of employees
  • Full paid three-month adoption leave being gender neutral
  • Medical benefit scheme which includes spouse/domestic partner, parents/children.

Biswas, declared winner in a beauty pageant last year, said it took her 18 long years to come out of the closet. Once a little boy, she had grown into an elegant person, a “reincarnation” of her mother, whom she lost when young, Biswas said.

Shahani, the author of Gay Bombay, threw light on the moral imperative as well as economic benefits to organisations that embrace inclusion, urging students to be a part of this change.

“By not accepting a certain part of society, we’re also not accounting for the loss of productivity and as a result forcing people to lead half lives,” he said.

Who are trendsetters?
  • Management consulting firm McKinsey has global networks of women and LGBT consultants
  • LGBT consortium at IBM India is Project Vayati, aimed at hiring members from marginalised transgender communities
  • Bain and Company started the Indian chapter of its Bain LGBT Association for Diversity for recruitment of colleagues.

Though it took her some time to convince her father to accept the change, Biswas said her extended family still called her a “fallen human.”

Life has its problems, she said. “You cut your hand, blood comes. Gender is not something that is defined by what is between your legs. Gender is just a notion in our minds.”

First Published: Jul 01, 2018 13:45 IST