Atrocities against the LGBTQIA+
The movement of LGBTQIA+ has been rising in India prominently since the start of 21st century. Various factors have been playing a quintessential role in influencing people about the different sexualities, gender identities and homogenous preferences. These factors include advent of social media, a change in the cinema industry's take on creating content, foreigner’s influx in the country and higher youth ratio to the older generations. Yet all these benefactors have been insufficient to curb the crimes committed against the community members of India on a daily basis. The approach of people who have an archaic mind set towards this concept has been digressive and intolerable. Rather than learning that this concept of multiple sexualities and preferences, a large sect of people of our country think of it as an illness or a disease which needs to be eradicated lest it stains the religious and societal norms prevalent. Despite of the many Supreme Court rulings in the matter over the last decade, things remain to be just as worse as they were before in the usual society. While legal changes are an important step, much more is needed for LGBT people in India to be able to live without discrimination and with dignity.
Young people who are bullied in school are less likely to succeed and more likely to find themselves vulnerable to discrimination and violence as adults. In western countries like the United State of America, United Kingdom, Canada and various European nations the rights for LGBTQIA+ community are strongly upheld and even the general public is very respectful and considerate towards the community's feelings. This has been made possible due to the rigorous legislations in the government and mass education of their citizens. As long as there are obsolete laws in place accompanied with age-old orthodox thought process the issue at hand seems unlikely to resolve efficaciously.
The hate-driven crimes committed in India against the LGBTQIA+ members are rising in numbers and every other day the intricacies of these violent acts are leaving people baffled. With an ever-increasing rate of population and general awareness regarding this concept rising among the younger generation there needs to be proper steps taken towards the eradication of this cruel discrimination faced by a particular community. This paper will be consisting of the various hardships faced by the community and the root causes for this social issue which needs to change.
Reading the book "Hate crimes against the LGBT Community in the Commonwealth: A Situational Analysis" I gathered that after a qualitative assessment of the experiences of LGBT people in Asia and the Pacific which includes statistics from India, it is discovered that they are often targeted with violent acts on the basis of their gender identity, sexual orientation or expression, and that this is due to lackadaisical approach on the part of state authorities to ensure the safety of victims. The analysis also found that women who are of the bisexual and lesbian community in our country suffer cruelty in silence, often at the hands of their own family members and domestic partners which in most cases are their husbands. It was found that lesbian women who were coerced into having a heterosexual marriage faced a higher rate of physical violence that the lesbian women who were not married at all.
The agency of United Nations called UN Human Rights Council has reported several attempts at "social cleansing" of lesbian and bisexual women through "honor" killings by their very own respective families, and there have been so called "conversion therapy" as well which is conducted on women at the command and wish of their families. An example of this vile atrocity is that in the year 2011, two women suspected to be lesbians were killed their blood relatives in India in a purposeful attempt to "salvage" the "honor" of the family. Both the women were accused of bringing a "bad name to the community", and "spoiling the image of their family". Other witnesses told the police officials that the killing of these two women were necessary to save the honor of these families. The content of this research analysis book has revealed that a significant proportion of anti-LGBT violence is committed by the police in countries where the police personnel are assigned the task with enforcing existing anti-LGBTQIA+ laws.
This set of law in effect not only proves them with a legal shield to their future actions but also gives them an opportunity to demonstrate their inherent hostility towards the community members often leading to severe forms of physical and sexual violence being inflicted upon victims. The general public too get influenced in a transphobic way after hearing a lot of endorsements made by religious leaders of homophobia who hold a high social stature in India. Hate-motivated crimes are a direct attack on the victim's identity. Many attacks of such nature are likely to be violent and as per the content I've read in this book, irrespective of the injury's type whether it be physical or verbal, the impact of an LGBTQIA+ hate crime can be dreadful and severe. Any such attack on an individual will make them aware that they are being targeted specifically because of who they choose to be. This is not to assumed that all victims of such hate crimes are to be affected in a similar manner. But such unforgettable tragic experience leaves the individual with a lot of self-esteem issues which can even level up to take the shape of identity crisis. For many victims in India their personal aftermath of such homophobic, transphobic or biphobe experience leaves them feeling that they deserve to be punished for being "different".
This internalization of self-toxicity can pull out one of the most negative emotions: Shame. In India where the LGBTQIA+ identity is socially and culturally denounced; the feelings of shame will be particularly intense and pessimistic for the victim's outlook towards himself/herself/themselves. At this point, it seems unsurprising to us all that nearly all studies conducted on hate crime victimization show that the victims are more likely to experience heightened levels of anxiety, depression, anger and safety concerns than victims of crimes which were not motivated by bias. The message which gender binary people want to convey by conducting these hate crimes is very crisp and clear, that they wish to attack and set an example for the rest of community members. They need to get "cured" or leave the country. Else death will be the only alternative left. In response to such homophobic and cruel practice many members of the LGBTQIA+ community attempt to change and modify the way they look, the tone they speak in, behavior and mannerism, in order to avoid the victimization in probably future.
The constant pressure to act in a standardized, general and socially accepted manner really starts to get suffocating for these people. This irrational necessity to belong to the only two forms of gender is similar to having a black-or-white limit to our choices. There is no space for any greys and this is proving to be quite detrimental to a ton of people in our country.
Violence against LGBTQIA+ is more than a social issue now. The predicaments of millions of community members are rising every day and their voices need to be heard just as every other human being's. Hate crimes inflicted upon these people not only is violent to their physical or mental state but also to their economic state. Researchers working in this field have acutely observes that a lot many victims who have suffered violence are often ultimately rendered financially poorer and more economically vulnerable than before. Their only option left to resort is to move away from the respective region and start a new social life over again from scratch.
An evidential example of a hate crime afflicted upon a member the police violence against a gay man in Kolkata. On July 20, 23-year-old Sanjit Mondal who's a gay male was accosted by two civic volunteers while on his way home from visiting a friend. The two volunteers asked him to accompany them to a nearby police station and when he refused due to the lack of their basis, they both verbally and physically assaulted him and tried to force him on their bike. Finally, he was forcefully taken to the police station and was further humiliated, threatened and abused for his sexual orientation. Mondal was made to stay in the police station for more than twelve hours and was only let go around noon the next day with a threatening warning that if he doesn't start behaving "like a man" they will dice his body into pieces and feed him to a crocodile. Such an incident has made Mondal fear even the one public defender who's supposed to be the knight in shining armor of citizens. Although these are only the incidents which are reported till now and have been surfaced to the top enough to be in news. There are undoubtedly hundreds or thousands of violent cases which we as commoners are not even aware of.
According to Sahayatrika, an LBT group based in the South Indian state of Kerala, the impact and effect of hate crime is different altogether because there is not even social recognition of lesbian identities and relationships or even changed gender for that matter. The forms of violence include forced marriage to husbands and atonement by family members for exercising their right to sexual choice. Few types of atonement include family expulsion, home confinement, denial of economic and material resources, forced termination of education and forced psychiatric treatment. Lesbians across the nation are living in such duress that they are vulnerable to being evicted by landlords of their apartments and to police violence which at times occurs in collusion with family violators. Residing in violent houses often means curtailed physical mobility and freedom by husbands and family members and social isolation as well. While at the face of this issue it seems that there's a clear misconduct of justice done to a massive community, there are certain counterarguments given by the wrongdoers as well which seem befitting to their actions and justifiable for the same. These counterarguments include the rigid, historic culture of India where since centuries homophobia is prevalent and it is considered shambolic in the eyes of the society if a certain family of group of people do not abide by the norms. The rationale used by the offenders is that if there are any other genders existing other than binary, why did no religious scripture, manuscript or holy text talk about it?
There are precedents set by several emperors both Hindu and Mughal where it is shown that those who differ their sexual identity with any gender other than the one they're born with shall be sentenced to a certain atonement based on the severity of the "crime". Being a cisgender has always been the only morally and socially correct and acceptable gender. Some people who believe in homophobia also say that this upsurge of LGBTQIA+ community members is caused due to the meteoric rise of internet usage and reach of social media. However there have been cases even in the far past of India where many people were not straight sexually and used to indulge in homosexual activities. The only difference now is that people are gaining the courage to come out. To proudly claim their sexuality and gender identity with a basic aim of living with equal rights and social acceptance. The culmination of such rebuttal arguments starts with the archaic and orthodox mentality that majority of Indians have been brought up with all their life. Intolerance imbibed into their minds and wrong interpretation of sexuality accompanied with lack of sex education is what results in the formation of such digressive and obsolete thinking process.
After reading and learning extensively about these atrocities within the spectrum of LGBTQIA+, I have realized that there's a dire need for change, for a revolution. The members of LGBTQIA+ community has suffered a lot and they are being deprived of the most basic of Human Fundamental rights for ages now. India needs to adapt the measures of legislation and procedure as established by various western countries like United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom and various other European nations. While a more liberal and modernized approach towards this issue by the government will prove beneficial, it is also quintessential for the general mass to get intellectually woke about the different sexualities, genders, gender identity, personal preferences et cetera.
It'd be factually wrong to say that no strides have been taken by the judiciary which have uplifted the predicaments of this community considering the 2018 Supreme court ruling which invalidated Section 377 under which homosexual intercourse which is against the nature was forbidden by law and illegal to engage in. However, there are socio-economic issues still prevailing and needs to be solved through rigorous dissemination of gender awareness. We cannot have another story of yet another Sandip Mondal who was tormented mercilessly and had an experience which stained his conscience forever. Families in India need to reform their thinking of certain terms such as "honor" and "image in society" and need to realize that the life of their offspring is way more valuable than their disillusioned meaning of "justice". In India where the religious importance of issues is essential to the sentiments of the public, it is necessary that diverse religious leaders and propagators advocate the rights of LGBTQIA+ Community members and play their role in making this world a more accepting and wholesome place to share.
Social Media should step up to its magnanimous reach and educate the millions of users regarding sex education and gender knowledge. Mental health of all human beings should be given equal importance irrespective of their race, preference, gender or sexuality. Victims of hate-driven crimes should be given a stage to speak and share their story so that it moves the hearts of other people who have not witnessed such acts. We, as citizens of the world's biggest democracy need to take the mantle upon ourselves and strive to make this country a safe and welcoming place for all genders that exist in this world. It is time to set apart the age-old patriarchal and orthodox practices and finally time to accept the modern world which has infinite things to offer. Society and Human Knowledge is malleable, with times these two things have to change as well in order to embrace the future generation with open arms.
ERIC MAWIRA GITARI & MARK WALTERS, HATE CRIMES AGAINST THE LGBT COMMUNITY IN THE COMMONWEALTH: A SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS, 27-35.
2. Journal Article:
SHILPI MISRA et al. VIOLENCE AND LGBTQ+ COMMUNITIES WHAT DO WE KNOW, AND WHAT DO WE NEED TO KNOW?, RTI INTERNATIONAL, 28-33.
3. Newspaper Article:
ROMITA SALUJA, BEHIND THE CURTAIN OF 'CONVERSION THERAPY', SCMP, JUNE 28, 2020.
PUJA BHATTACHARJEE, POLICE VIOLENCE AGAINST LGBTQIA+ PEOPLE IN KOKLATA HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR SENSITISATION, THE WIRE, JULY 30th, 2020, 6;00pm, , https://thewire.in/lgbtqia/police-violence-against-lgtbqia-people-in-kolkata-highlights-need-for-sensitisation .
Navtej Singh Johar & Ors. v. Union of India thr. Secretary Ministry of Law and Justice (2018).