The word LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. In the beginning, this community was known as “Gay Community” but it refers to men only. And the lesbians, transgenders, and bisexuals are not included in the gay community. So, the term LGBTQ was introduced. These people have different sexual orientations. Where sexual orientation generally includes sexual fantasies, sexual attraction or sexual behavior towards the opposite gender they have towards the same gender.
A lesbian refers to women who are sexually attracted to women only. And gay refers to men who are sexually attracted to men only. A bisexual person is one who is sexually, romantically and emotionally attracted to both the sexes. They are not only attracted to one but find a connection in both genders. Transgender people have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their sex assigned at birth. Not everyone whose appearance or behavior is gender-atypical will identify as a transgender person. Transgender people can identify as transsexual, transvestite or another gender identity. Queer stands for those who identify as queer or who question their sexual identity.
The difficulties faced by LGBTQ
The LGBTQ faces many difficulties in societies where the only accepted orientation is heterosexuality and homosexuality is regarded as abnormal. Abuse is their daily routine and they face it almost every day. They are more likely to experience intolerance, discrimination, harassment, and threat of violence due to their sexual orientation than the heterosexual. It is mainly due to homophobia. They face inequality and violence everywhere.
In India, the status given to opposite-sex couples and the status given to same-sex couples is not same. The LGBTQ people even hide their sexuality due to fear of losing their jobs. The young LGBTQ face ragging and harassment in schools, colleges, and universities. This leads to depression, school drop-out, and even suicide. They gradually develop low self-esteem and become isolated from friends and family. The parents of straight children don’t allow them to mix with the LGBTQ children without realizing that this leads to isolation for the other one.
Lack of communication between LGBTQ children and the parents often leads to conflicts in the family. Many LGBTQ youths are placed in foster care or end up in juvenile detention or on the streets because of family conflict related to their identity. LGBTQ teens have a very high risk of physical and mental problems when they become adults because they are rejected by their parents and society. LGBTQ Community faces poverty and bigotry daily. They suffer social and economic inequalities due to continuous discrimination in the workplace. These people often get addicted to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco to get themselves relieved of stress, rejection, and discrimination.
Constitutional rights of LGBT people
The Preamble of the Constitution of India talks about Justice – social, economic, and political, equality of status. The Constitution provides every person an equal status before the law within the territory of India. The discrimination on the ground of ‘sex’ under Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution includes discrimination on the ground of gender identity.
The expression ‘sex’ is not just limited to the biological sex of male or female but intended to include people who consider themselves to be neither male or female. The right to choose one’s own identity is one of the most essential rights under Article 21. Recognition of gender identity provides the recognition of their right to dignity and non-recognition violates the same. They have the full right to express and live their life without fear.
Transgender in our society have not been seen with respect, they are often humiliated and beaten up by the people in power. Their reputation in society has degraded and their significance in society has been deteriorated. Everyone has a right to personal development, and this could be secured only when there exists a right against exploitation which creates a free environment for an individual. Transgenders are the worst victims of exploitation, due to their degraded economic status. And LGBTQ is usually seen as taboo by society.
Legal Battles of the LGBT
In November-December 1991: A report about the experiences of gay people in India is released by the AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA), an organization fighting discrimination against those affected by HIV or AIDS. The report calls for the repeal of 377 of the IPC that discriminates against members of the LGBTQ community.
In May 1994: Kiran Bedi, inspector general of the Tihar jail in Delhi, refused to provide condoms in the jail, saying that it would encourage homosexuality. In response, ABVA files a writ petition in the Delhi High Court, demanding that free condoms be provided and section 377 be recognized as unconstitutional. The petition is dismissed in 2001.
In December 2001: The Naz Foundation, a sexual health NGO working with gay men, files public interest litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court, challenging the constitutionality of section 377.
In September 2004: The Delhi High Court dismissed the petition on the ground that there is no cause of action to the Foundation and hence had no locus standi to challenge the law.
In February 2006: The Supreme Court held that Naz Foundation had a locus standi to file a PIL and reinstates it in the Delhi High Court. “Voices Against 377”, a coalition of NGOs, joins the petition, while India’s ministry of home affairs files an affidavit against the decriminalization of homosexuality.
In July 2009: The Delhi High Court struck down Sec. 377 of the IPC by saying that it violates the fundamental rights to life, liberty, and equality as enshrined in the Indian constitution.
In December 2013: The LGBTQ community suffers a significant blow when the Supreme Court overturns the Delhi High Court’s judgment in Suresh Kumar Koushal & Anr. Vs. Naz Foundation & Ors. 2013, and reinstated Sec. 377 of the IPC.
In September 2018: Finally, the Supreme Court in Navtej Johar v. Union of India 2018 SCC 1 held that consensual same-sex under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was no longer criminalized.
It was revolutionary in order to protect the rights of LGBT communities. In protecting their rights, the Supreme Court also gave broader and more expansive meaning to “sex” within the Constitution to include gender identity and sexual orientation. In fact its a beginning of a whole new era not only for transgender equality but gender equality in India also.
The decriminalization of Section 377 is perhaps the first step towards guaranteeing the rights of all minorities across civil boundaries.
Now, it’s the duty of society to help the LGBTQ community and to understand that these people who basically have different sexual orientation but prima facie they are also humans. Homosexuality is not a mental disease. It is as natural as heterosexual. The human mind has no control over it.
It is very important to make people aware of the presence of the LGBTQ community. Human rights are natural rights that are indestructible and inalienable that are conferred upon man since birth. Homosexuals shouldn’t be considered as aliens, they are not sick, their sexual behavior is perfectly in tune with the dictates of nature.
Therefore, they are entitled to all human rights as well as fundamental rights available in India. And they shouldn’t be treated as a taboo anymore.
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