Estimates of the LGBT population do not exist since there has never been a census based on sexual preferences but varied estimates put the figure at 10 percent of India’s population of 1.2 billion.
The Supreme Court last December upheld the validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, ruling that consensual gay sex between adults is illegal. Topping this up, in January the apex court dismissed a plea of the central government, NGO Naz Foundation and others for reviewing its overarching verdict.
The aftermath saw the Congress party criticizing the verdict. However, members and activists rue the lack of any substantial action thereafter, said an IANS report that appeared in dnaindia.com.
“I hope the next government does something positive for the community. The present government failed to tackle it. Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi slammed the ruling, but nothing was done,” Kanch Mehta, a lesbian working in Pune, told IANS, asserting her wish to vote for change. The mother son Gandhi due are the two top leaders of the incumbent Congress party that heads the federal coalition.
Opinion polls show that it is the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian peoples’ party) that is most likely to form the next government.
“The BJP is completely silent and there isn’t much to expect from anyone else…the next government at the centre should do something substantial. I am hoping the new leaders are sympathetic and can act,” she added.
Rohan Noronha, a gay freelancer, echoed Mehta. “We live in a hypocritical society. Politicians came forward with support in the aftermath of the ruling, but later they turned their backs on us. I want to see more of the so-called foreign educated, youth leaders in the next government. I hope they can infuse fresh thought on the subject,” Noronha told IANS.
Transgender (TG) fashion designer Debi Debnath raised another burning topic: that the voter’s card has just two – male and female.
“I am undecided about voting though I have got my I-card a few days back. Since I am not a biological female, I am included as a male. It’s very confusing. After my doctors give the go-ahead, I will be a female and then I will have to change my details,” Debnath told IANS.
“We are the youth and we do contribute to society. Something must be worked out by the next government to ease our voting process,” he said.
Souvik, a queer citizen of Kolkata, professed faith in the voting process. “I hope the next government soon starts the process of change…they must first file a curative petition (in the Supreme Court). The Congress didn’t have the time to do anything,” he said.
For gender-sexuality activist Pawan Dhall, the fact remains that no one in the political circles bothered about LGBT rights until the Delhi High Court ruling on Section 377.
Meenakshi Sanyal, managing trustee of Sappho For Equality – one of the primary NGOs supporting the LGBT community in eastern India – felt it’s time for a “serious dialogue” with government officials.