Pune: The Supreme Court (SC) verdict on decriminalizing homosexuality has helped achieve victory in the battle, but lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights activists from Pune reiterated that the war is yet to be won.
Gay marriage rights, civil union rights, adoption rights, and, crucially, fighting the stigma are some of the next major milestones to be achieved, members of the community from the city said.
Chitra Palekar, noted actor-director and one of 19 parents, who had filed an intervention in the 2013 SC judgement for decriminalizing Section 377, said, “The SC order will help in battling the stigma and homophobia. It will also help more people open up about their sexuality. The next big step is to remove the stigma and prejudice attached with the LGBT community. The judges themselves have given such wonderful statements while pronouncing the judgment that I think it will help children who are opening up to their parents.”
Palekar’s daughter, who is a lesbian and lives abroad, also expressed her solidarity with the community back home. Palekar, a member of the Mumbai-based support group Sweekar — The Rainbow Parents, is certain that the struggles they have gone through will also help parents and other communities across the world get a positive judgment in their own cases.
On Thursday, an online collective of LGBT individuals from India MIST organized a small celebration in Koregaon Park. Founder of MIST Shyam Konnur said, “There are quite a few of us in Pune, although only some are active. We often struggle to get venues to hold our events but today I received many calls from several venues offering to host our event. It is a welcome change, of course. Many aspects, like marriage, partnership, inheritance laws, still need to be addressed but I believe we will get to them in time.”
Gender rights activist Shruti Sharda added that it is also important to acknowledge people from the LGBTQIA+ community and allies, who did not let the issue simmer down. “It is important, indeed ground-breaking, to read about the deliberation on individuality, gender identity, assignment of sex at birth, the shifting nature of morality, civil liberties, human rights, and so much more,” she added.
Speaking about Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, police commissioner K Venkatesham said, “Henceforth, while registering FIRs, we will act according to the ruling of the Supreme Court. However, in cases involving children or minors, action will be initiated.” From around the web
More from The Times of India
15 beautiful pictures of Indian LGBTIs and allies kissing Section 377 goodbye Authorities in Philadelphia found Shantee Tucker, a black transgender woman, on a highway Wednesday (5 September) morning. They found her shot in the back and subsequently took her to Temple University Hospital, where she died.
Tucker is the 19th transgender person and victim of deadly violence in the United States this year. Of those victims, 16 have been women of color.
Tucker recently celebrated her 30th birthday.
According to Philly Magazine , an investigation revealed Tucker had a brief argument with a person, or numerous people. They were in a black Ford pickup truck and began shooting at the victim.
Friends and family began posting memories and tributes to Tucker on her Facebook page. Terrible violence against the transgender community
Violence against the LGBTI community has been on the rise in the US.
A report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) revealed 2017 was the deadliest year on record for the community. Transgender women made up a considerable number of the victims and most of the victims were under 35.
Earlier this year, trans activist Ashlee Marie Preston celebrated her 34th birthday. Her birthday cake had photos of 77 black transgender women who were murdered before the age of 35 on it.
The first known trans woman killed in 2018 Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien. She was found at her Massachusetts home in early January. More from Gay Star News
The #LwiththeT campaign made us cry tears of joy, but now we need to take it further
It was like a scene from a Bollywood blockbuster as staff at one of New Delhi’s most luxurious hotels performed an elaborate dance routine in the lobby to celebrate a historic Supreme Court ruling on gay rights.
The Lalit hotel’s Keshav Suri, one of the court’s petitioners, entered the lobby to rousing applause, gave his husband a peck on the cheek and declared: “It is time to celebrate. It is time to come out of the closet.”
Suri’s dancers wore rainbow makeup and bright Indian outfits to mark the end of the notorious Section 377 of the penal code, which until Thursday banned same-sex acts as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”.
Cakes and champagne rounded out the hotel party while Suri said Thursday’s judgement was just the beginning of the battle for LGBT recognition. An Indian member and supporter of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community celebrates the Supreme Court decision to strike down a colonial-era ban on gay sex, in Kolkata on September 6, 2018. India’s Supreme Court on September 6 struck down the ban that has been at the centre of years of legal battles. "The law had become a weapon for harassment for the LGBT community," Chief Justice Dipak Misra said as he announced the landmark verdict. / AFP PHOTO / Dibyangshu SARKAR
Indian members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community celebrate the Supreme Court decision to strike down a colonial-era ban on gay sex, in Kolkata on September 6, 2018. India’s Supreme Court on September 6 struck down the ban that has been at the centre of years of legal battles. "The law had become a weapon for harassment for the LGBT community," Chief Justice Dipak Misra said as he announced the landmark verdict. / AFP PHOTO / Dibyangshu SARKAR Indian members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community celebrate the Supreme Court decision to strike down a colonial-era ban on gay sex, in Mumbai on September 6, 2018. India’s Supreme Court on September 6 struck down the ban that has been at the centre of years of legal battles. "The law had become a weapon for harassment for the LGBT community," Chief Justice Dipak Misra said as he announced the landmark verdict. / AFP PHOTO / INDRANIL MUKHERJEE
“A lot more needs to be done about inheritance, marriage, insurance… but slowly we are getting there,” Suri added.
Outside the Supreme Court and in other cities across India there were tearful celebrations as activists hugged each other after hearing the judgement, which said India’s LGBT community was “owed an apology” for its treatment.
One college student skipped class to be outside the Supreme Court and come out to her family through a bevy of media cameras present for the occasion.
Whilst security personnel stopped the crowd from entering the court building with banners and flags, they could not dampen the enthusiasm of the gathering.
Activists outside jumped for joy while waving gay pride flags and placards reading “Love Wins” and “LGBT rights are human rights”.
Smiles and laughter gave way to tears as many came to terms with the end of a decades-long struggle.
Similar gatherings were held across India, with LGBT community members handing out chocolates in the southern city of Chennai, while gay activists rejoiced on Twitter.
“Well done Supreme Court. You have finally got the government out of our bedroom,” wrote media entrepreneur Ramesh Srivats.
India’s film fraternity too gave rave reviews to the Supreme Court.
“Decriminalising homosexuality and abolishing #Section377 is a huge thumbs up for humanity and equal rights! The country gets its oxygen back!” said filmmaker Karan Johar on Twitter minutes after the judgement.
“Accepting diversity has to be the core value of every Indian and frankly is the only way India will survive and thrive,” added famous author Chetan Bhagat.
The Delhi High Court decriminalised gay sex in 2009, but the Supreme Court reinstated the ban in 2014 after an appeal by religious leaders.
While India’s law only legalises sexual acts between adults, gay activists have hailed the verdict as a major boost in the deeply conservative country where religious groups have fiercely opposed any liberalisation of sexual morality.
Reveller at LGBT Pride Parade in Sao Paulo (Imago/ZumaPress/C. Faga) Since the term LGBT was coined in the late 1980s, public understanding of sexual and gender identity has progressed significantly. Here is a breakdown of all the letters.
L esbian: A woman who is attracted only to other women.
G ay: A man who is attracted only to other men, but also used to broadly describe people who are attracted to the same sex.
B isexual: Anyone who is attracted to both men and women.
T ransgender: Someone whose gender identity differs from their gender at birth.
Q ueer: Reclaimed pejorative term now used by people who don’t identify with the binary terms of male and female or gay and straight and do not wish to label themselves by their sex acts.
Q uestioning: Someone who is still questioning or exploring their sexual/gender identity.
I ntersex: Someone who’s body is neither fully male or female due to medical variation. Formerly known as hermaphrodites, now considered an offensive term.
A lly: Someone who is straight but supports the LGBTQQIAAP community.
A sexual: Someone with no sexual attraction to any gender.
P ansexual: Someone whose sexual attraction is not based on gender and more based on personality. They may also be gender fluid. Sometimes used to differentiate between the binary choice of two genders implied by "bisexual." Berlin Pride through the years
Shantee Tucker is the 19th reported case of a trans person being killed in the US so far in 2018. (Shantee Tucker/Facebook) A black trans women shot dead in Philadelphia on Wednesday morning has become the 19th reported case of a trans person being killed in the US so far this year.
Shantee Tucker, who had celebrated her 30th birthday on Sunday (September 2), was found suffering from a gunshot wound by police at about 1am on a highway in the Hunting Park area of the city, according to local media reports.
She was taken to Temple University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Police are reportedly looking for a suspect in connection with the murder. According to local magazine Philadelphia, a police report state that Tucker had been arguing with an unidentified person or persons in a black Ford truck, who then started shooting at Tucker.
Philadelphia Police Department are appealing for any witnesses to contact the Homicide Unit on 215-686-3334.
Friends have paid tribute to Tucker on social media.
One friend, Samantha Jo Dato, wrote on Facebook: “R.I.P Shantee Tucker I was just on your live checking in on your birthday. May you forever live in our hearts and justice be swift and ruthless.
“This is so close to home Philly Stay Strong and wrap one another in love.” Another friend, Tameer Harris, posted on Facebook : “Omg I can’t believe the news I just got R.I.P Shante !! you was really like another big sister to me!”
Harris added: “I really can’t even believe this phone call I got this morning I woke up to a confirmation that I can’t even stomach to believe May you Rest In Peace baby I Love You So Much!”
According to the Human Rights Campaign , 16 of the 19 known killings of trans people in the US in 2018 have been women of colour.
Sarah McBride, national press secretary of the Human Rights Campaign, told PinkNews: “There is a growing epidemic of violence targeting transgender people, particularly Black transgender women.
“This is an urgent crisis that is a by-product of the toxic and violent combination of transphobia, misogyny, and racism. As a society, our policymakers and lawmakers must do more to combat this violence.
“Our hearts go out to the family—both blood and chosen—of Shantee Tucker, and we must never forget that behind the headlines was a real person whose life of love, hopes and dreams was tragically cut short.” Dejanay L. Stanton (left) and Vontashia Bell were both found dead on August 30. (Facebook) Tucker’s death comes just a week after two other black trans women were found dead on August 30.
Dejanay L. Stanton, a 24-year-old woman, was found on a street in Chicago on Thursday morning with a gunshot wound to the head, the Chicago Sun-Times reported .
The other woman, 18-year-old Vontashia Bell, was also found in a street in Shreveport, Louisiana, with gunshot wounds to the chest and wrist.
Schoolgirl Evie Macdonald confronted Australia’s prime minister about a recent tweet he made about transgender children. (theprojecttv/Twitter) A 13-year old trans kid confronted Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison over a recent controversial tweet he made complaining about “gender whisperers.”
On Tuesday, Morrison, who voted against same-sex marriage in the country , responded to a news report in Australia’s The Daily Telegraph , which claimed that teachers were being trained to identify transgender children,
“We do not need ‘gender whisperers’ in our schools. Let kids be kids,” he posted on Twitter. Morrison tweeted about “gender whisperers” on Tuesday. (ScottMorrisonMP/Twitter) But, during an appearing on The Project on Thursday , Morrison was asked to respond to a video clip sent in by 13-year old trans schoolgirl Evie Macdonald.
“My name is Evie Macdonald, I’m 13 years old and I’m a transgender kid. And this is what I want to say to the prime minister,” Macdonald said in the video.
“There are thousands of kids in Australia that are gender diverse. We don’t deserve to be disrespected like that through tweets from our prime minister.” Macdonald, who recently acted in a short film called First Day for ABC ME, explained: “I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of attitudes like this.
“I went to a Christian school where I had to pretend to be a boy and spent weeks in conversion therapy. We get one childhood and mine was stolen from me by attitudes like this.” Morrison was asked to respond to a video sent in by 13-year old Evie Macdonald. (theprojecttv/Twitter) Responding to Macdonald’s comments, Morrison said: “I love all Australians, whatever background they come from.”
He continued: “The point I was making was simply this—I want kids to be allowed to be kids and I want parents to be respected as the parents of those children.”
“I don’t think teachers get to take the place of parents and the choices that families make.”
Watch the video below (from 04:00 onwards): We speak to PM @ScottMorrisonMP about his views on the au pair case, whether bullying occurred during the leadership spill and a young trans kid shares her story with the PM. #auspol #TheProjectTV pic.twitter.com/caN3VQiN8z — The Project (@theprojecttv) September 6, 2018
The UK’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, has published the first ever guide for orthodox Jewish schools to improve the wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pupils.
A spokesman for the Chief Rabbi told the BBC that the guide is viewed as a "game-changer".
Jewish LGBT campaign group, KeshetUK, which helped produce the guide, said it was deeply grateful for the support.
The guide aims to reduce potential harm to LGBT pupils across the community.
Rabbi Mirvis says the document is "an extremely significant milestone" which would have a real and lasting impact.
"Our children need to know that at school, at home and in the community, they will be loved and protected regardless of their sexuality or gender identity," he said in his introduction.
He said orthodox schools had found it difficult to engage with LGBT issues: "So there is an urgent need for authoritative guidance which recognises the reality that there are young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in our schools to whom we have a duty of care.
"While many such students are thriving in Jewish schools, there are many others who endure deep unhappiness and distress due to the mistreatment and hurt they experience." Shulli’s story
As a girl, Shulli says the curriculum at her school was fitted around guiding her through the life stages of reaching womanhood.
"Had I been straight, this process would have been a huge advantage… however, because I was not straight the result was a feeling of total isolation.
"I had no path to follow and no guidance. I could not envision my own future.
"I thought that by fitting in and acting straight, then I would eventually become straight.
"I knew I had to mention boy crushes, I had to get rid of my swaggering walk, I frequently had to use homophobic slurs."
Shulli believes that the detrimental impact remains with her today.
After she left school, she met one of her old teachers at a Jewish event and came out to her.
As I told her who I really was, I could feel my cheeks flush, and noticed that I was visibly shaking, yet her reaction was fantastic.
"She told me that she didn’t see me any differently, that she was proud to have taught a student who had such courage, and she implored me to always be true to myself as that is what leads to happiness.
"Whilst her heart-warming reaction is exactly what I needed in order to feel a sense of inner peace, the sad thing is that the atmosphere in the school meant I could never have approached her to receive the support that I needed." Leviticus
The authors hope that the fact the guide is produced by the recognised leader of the Orthodox Jewish community will give it particular weight in schools.
Rabbi Mirvis says they are of course aware of the prohibitions in Jewish law and the Bible, for example, in the book of Leviticus.
But he adds that when homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying is carried out with "justifications" from Jewish texts a "major desecration of God’s name" is caused.
And he says that the most important part of Jewish law, also set out in Leviticus, is to "love your neighbour as yourself".
The guide recognises the extent to which young Jewish LGBT people "often express feelings of deep isolation and loneliness and a sense that they can never be themselves".
Many fear that they could be expelled, ridiculed and even rejected by family and friends.
The guidance includes: zero tolerance of bullying
better protection of LGBT pupils against bullying and abuse
avoiding homophobic words and language
recognising the issues and experiences of LGBT pupils
avoiding labels and allowing pupils to determine their own sexuality
better support when pupils first come out
KeshetUK’s executive director Dalia Fleming said the organisation was proud to have worked closely with the Chief Rabbi and Jewish LGBT people on the guide.
"KeshetUK now looks forward to working with schools, rabbis and educators across Jewish communities, supporting them to implement this guide so they can ensure their LGBT students reach their potential, free from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, discrimination and fear."
“History owes an apology to the members of this community and their families … for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries. The members of this community were compelled to live a life full of fear of reprisal and persecution.” With these words , Justice Indu Malhotra, one of the judges of the Indian supreme court, held that section 377 of the penal code, which criminalises consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex, was unconstitutional.
As one of the lawyers involved in a previous constitutional challenge to section 377 before the Delhi high court and the Indian supreme court, I know how important today’s judgment is. By ruling against the colonial-era law, the court delivered a powerful riposte to institutionalised disgust and contempt aimed at the LGBT community in India .
Disgust and contempt have been central themes of section 377 since its inception. In 1830 Thomas Macaulay , the main drafter of the penal code, called homosexual sex “odious” and “revolting”. In 1884, a court in north India ruling on the prosecution of a hijra (a member of South Asia’s traditional transgender community), commented that a physical examination of the accused revealed she “had the marks of a habitual catamite” and commended the police’s desire to “check these disgusting practices”. In 1934, a judge in Sindh (now Pakistan) described a man who had consensual sex with another man as “a despicable specimen of humanity”. In 2003, the government of India said that decriminalising homosexuality would “open the floodgates of delinquent behaviour”. And in 2013 a supreme court ruling on an earlier challenge to section 377 (overruled by today’s judgment) held that LGBT people constituted a “minuscule minority” who bore only “so-called rights”. Play Video 1:48 Celebrations erupt in India after landmark gay rights ruling – video This contempt had and continues to have real consequences. In the 1990s, the HIV/Aids epidemic arrived in India, linking homosexuality in the public mind with disease and contagion. In 1992, the Delhi police arrested 18 men in a park as part of a “clean-up” drive. The allegation was not that they were having sex but “were about to indulge in homosexual acts”.
A 2003 report by a civil liberties group in Bangalore provides gruesome testimony of a hijra sex worker who was first gang-raped by a group of men and then gang-raped by the police. In 2006, the Lucknow police raided the offices of an HIV/Aids outreach organisation on the grounds that it was abetting the commission of a section 377 crime. Testimonies provided to the Delhi high court in 2007 documented how a gay man abducted by the police in Delhi was raped by police officials for several days and forced to sign a “confession” saying “I am a gandu [a derogatory term, meaning one who has anal sex]”. And in Haryana in 2011, two women were beaten to death by one of their nephews for being in an “immoral” relationship. This is not even to mention the harassment, blackmail and ostracism faced by LGBT people on a daily basis. While in a narrow sense today’s judgment is about section 377, it is so much more than that. Like the LGBT movement in India, this case was borne out of the need to address everyday, structural and endemic forms of violence.
Out of context, the words used in today’s judgment, like privacy, dignity and equality, can seem anodyne. In fact, they lie at the core of what it means for our communities to survive. Earlier this year, a lesbian couple jumped to their death. In notes left behind, they are reported to have written: “We have left this world to live with each other. The world did not allow us to stay together.” Today’s judgment makes it possible that people may no longer see fear in the future, but hope.
• Mayur Suresh is a lecturer in law at Soas, University of London. He previously practised law in Delhi and Bangalore, India
Sophia La Reis. | Photo: Facebook A transgender woman tried to transfer some money from her bank account last week (30 August), but when she went to confirm her identity, the bank didn’t believe it was her.
47-year-old Sophia La Reis called the phone banking staff at Santander to verify a transfer of £72 ($93) to her friend.
The bank denied the transfer and then froze her card, all because the staff said she ‘sounds like a man’.
The next day, when Reis tried to make a purchase at the Tesco supermarket, it didn’t go through.
So she went to the Clumber Street branch of the bank and demanded an explanation.
Reis explained she told the bank she was changing her name and gender identity 18 months ago.
She said to the bank staff: ‘You have got all my documentation and I changed my name on 11 November,’ reports the Nottingham Post .
According to Reis, they told her that her voice did not match her profile because it ‘sounded like a man on the phone and not a woman.’ ‘I felt embarrassed about being who I am’
Reis said the incident left her feeling embarrassed and humiliated.
She explained: ‘I was crying my eyes out and I am not that type of person at all.
‘I am a very courteous person and I am outgoing but to feel that way when all I asked was for my money to be transferred. I feel mistreated,’ she said.
A spokeswoman for Santander bank responded to the incident and apologized.
She said: ‘We have apologized to Miss Reis for the experience she had when using our telephone banking service and offered her a gesture of goodwill.
‘It was certainly not our intention to cause any offence, and our service was not as good as it should have been.
‘When verifying customers are who they say they are, we have to balance our duty to protect the security of their accounts.
‘If a customer rings up with their banking credentials they should be able to pass security with no problems,’ the spokeswoman said.
Now Reis wants to make sure this never happens to any trans person again.
She said: ‘Santander is a multi-million pound company that should have a flag on their system for people who are a minority like myself.’
Gay Star News reached out to Sophia La Reis for comment
Proud to be bi: celebrating bisexual voices in the arts at Toronto Bi Arts Festival VietPride 2018. | Photo: VietPride/Facebook Over 75% of the world now live in a country where gay sex is legal.
Yesterday, 3.17 billion people lived in a place where homosexuality was banned by law.
That’s 42% of the global population.
With today’s Supreme Court ruling in India, the number has tumbled down to 1.84 billion.
This means 24% of the people in the world live in a country where gay sex is illegal. Biggest decriminalization verdict in history
Five Supreme Court judges ruled Section 377 of the Penal Code was unconstitutional in India. They also said it violated the right to privacy.
India has an estimated LGBTI population of 78 million. This was, therefore, the biggest decriminalization verdict in history.
‘We have to vanquish prejudice, embrace inclusion, and ensure equal rights,’ said Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra in his judgment.
Misra argued that public morality and majoritarian views ‘cannot dictate constitutional rights’. He said LGBTI people deserve the same rights as other people.
Workers at India Culture Lab celebrate the Indian Supreme Court ruling, 6 September 2018 (Photo: @IndiaCultureLab via Twitter)
The court ruled: ‘Sexual orientation of an individual is natural and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a violation of Freedom of Expression’.
Harish Iyer and even his mom , have been at the forefront of the campaign to abolish Section 377. Iyer is one of the most high profile LGBTI advocates in India and was confident but very nervous ahead of today’s decision.
‘This verdict reaffirms our faith in not just legality but also humanity. This is a giant leap for humankind. We were born without discrimination,’ Iyer told Gay Star News. Still a lot of work to do
However, in many countries, gay sex remains illegal. Homosexual activity can still result in prosecution in 71 countries .
In over half a dozen countries, those found guilty can even face the death penalty. These include Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, parts Somalia and northern Nigeria. Members of Islamic State have also put people to death for being gay in Iran and Syria.
Advocates continue to push for change in Tunisia, Lebanon, Kenya, Barbados, Dominica and Jamaica, among other countries
And it’s not just about decriminalizing gay sex.
Activists across the world have to achieve marriage equality, protections against discrimination, banning LGBTI ‘cure’ therapy, putting in place trans and intersex rights.
Trans women, especially those of color, continue to face the highest risk of being murdered.
In some countries, like Egypt or Chechnya, it’s getting worse to be LGBTI. How long will it take for every country to achieve LGBTI equality?
But the worldwide trends suggest progress continues at a fast pace.
Today, 1.18 billion people – 16% of the world’s population – live in a country with marriage equality.
Alongside marriage and partnership rights, LGBTI parenthood has expanded rapidly. Very often adopted and foster kids have benefited. Now 26 nation states allow same-sex couples to adopt jointly and 27 allow you to adopt your partner’s child.
Around 40 countries currently give transgender people some rights.
Ultimately, it’s about changing hearts and minds.
A study by GLAAD found 20% of Americans aged 18 to 34 identify within the LGBTI community.
That’s compared to a national average of 12%. It’s a massive change from the oldest generation in the US. Just 5% of people aged 72 or over say they are LGBTQ.
Straight and cisgender younger people also have better attitudes than their elders.
The same GLAAD survey asked non-LGBTQs if they were ‘allies’, ‘detached supporters’ or ‘resisters’ of our community.
An encouraging 86% of straight, cisgender 18 to 34s are allies or supporters.