"Minority Rights and Sexual Minority Activism in India"
Session notes from SAPC
The following notes were taken by volunteer note-takers. There
may be errors, and notes may not represent full session
- LGBT Rights
- India is becoming retrograde; going more to the right. Section 377 prohibits anal sex, whether M-F or M-M. This was a law made by the British and repealed in Britain, but the BJP wishes to keep it on the books and has taken an anti-reform stance.
- Activism around 377 in 1999/ 2000; currently Integration Society doing 3rd annual Gay Pride Walk
- Delhi has the highest rate of violence against women: "rape capitol of India"
- Indian Catholics
- Alcoholism has plagued the community since displacement by the Portuguese
- Attendee suffered mental suffering- post traumatic stress disorder from family violence; fear and stress as a child; feels that community suffers tremendous stress
- "Gujarat has been a watershed"
- Hindu armies/ fighters were very familiar with and good at identifying Muslim homes- a well-known fact- because of state backing. Lists were faxed and printed with names of Muslim businesses- extremely systematic, well-concerted plans were executed with no protection from the police at all.
- The number of people flocking to mosques has been tenfold
- The violence was so intensified in Gujarat because the BJP ruled there longer than any other place
- Similar problems in Hindu villages of Maharashtra. Social "education" from grassroots level organizations are spreading propaganda about Muslim men being a danger, encouraging Hindu men to protect "their" women
- Experience of being called/ considered a terrorist
- "I always considered myself Indian, but the alienation was significant and I was lead to ask myself whether I should think of myself as Sikh, not Indian?"
- What can we do to intervene?
- It is human to identify with a community. The responsibility does not rest with those who committed the crime, as we are all susceptible to going along with our community; any one of us could have done this.
- Strengthening of democratic institutions is key
- Empowering one particular group is good but be careful about communities turning on one another and falling into the same trap as the oppressors
- Complex to negotiate multiple identities; which part of your identity comes out in a particular situation- for example, Muslim, gay, and Indian? The primary definition changes based on the community in which one is existing.
- Individual one-on-one communication is important
- The truth needs to be out; from there let people make their own decisions. Can screen documentaries that reach across your own area of organization or spread safe sex education through one"s religious community
- Final Take-Home Message on What Can Be Done
- Strengthening democratic institutions
- One-on-one dialogue
- Reinforcing independent media to spread accurate information
- Use unique venues to reach mainstream communities
- Sustainable change is based on prevention strategies, education of community, advocacy
- SAPC Bay Area