India: The LGBT community is a consolidated vote bank of about 7-13% of India’s adult population which is most likely to vote for the Congress party during India’s general elections that began today, a survey says.
A majority (45.17%) said they would vote for Congress, followed closely by Aam Aadmi Party (41.07%). These two parties have said they would amend a current law to ensure consensual same-sex relations between adults are not criminalized, reports the Times of India.
The Congress party currently heads the federal coalition government, which it has done for the past 10 years.
The elections will primarily be fought between the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian peoples party), the main opposition party that media say is likely to defeat the Congress and form the next federal government.
The BJP came a distant third with only 13.76% pledging their vote to the party, according to the survey conducted by Pallav Patankar, director (HIV Programmes) at Humsafar Trust that comprises members of India’s LGBT community.
The BJP has opposed any move to nullify the Supreme Court’s re-criminalizing consensual same-sex relations, dealing a huge setback to scrap Section 377.
The Supreme Court last year chose to retain the colonial-era law that defines same-sex relations as “unnatural” and punishable by up to life imprisonment which the Delhi High Court in 2009 had decriminalized.
India’s national elections for 543 seats in the lower house of parliament began April 7 and will continue until May 12 with results expected on May 16. The elections are the world’s largest with 814 million registered voters.
“From an electoral point of view, the LGBT community should be worth wooing for any socially liberal political party, given the ballpark estimate that about 7-13% of India’s adult population is gay. Whichever party moves first will almost certainly have the loyalty of this vote bank; it’ll also be doing the right thing,” said a Times of India editorial on the front page.
While 47% of those polled were confident the party they will vote for will uphold gay rights, 35% were unsure and around 18% were not confident, the survey said.
A miniscule number of LGBT voters said they would vote 100% for the Communist Party of India, the first political party to take a stand for the gay community. Unfortunately the party is not a major player in national elections.
An analysis of confidence levels for each party, part of a report drawn up by Patankar and fellow gay-rights activist Shwetambera Parasher, shows that 56.5% of those voting Congress and nearly 50% of Aam Aadmi Party (common man’s party) voters were confident it would support LGBT rights.
While the number of “confident” voters was highest for Congress, Aam Aadmi Party had the highest number of voters who were highly confident of the party’s stance on gay rights. However, the Aam Aadmi Party, a newly formed party, is just making its debut in Indian general elections.