2018 has arguably been one of the most important years for the LGBTQIA+ community in India. The community has come a long way with its struggles and celebrations, and created a huge impact within the societal fabric of India, from protests against regressive laws to celebrating victories at pride marches. We trace back some of the most notable milestones for the community this year.
1. Recognising The Rights Of The Community With Section 377
The biggest milestone for the community this year was the removal of Section 377 which infringed upon the rights of those within the community. The Supreme Court overturned its 2013 judgement and ruled Section 377 unconstitutional. The bench of judges apologised for the trauma this legal judgement caused and acknowledged homosexuality as part of natural human sexuality.
This paves the way for LGBTQIA+ rights within the legal framework, and the impact of this judgement have been reverberating throughout the Indian society. The community saw new hope within the legal structure with regards to the support of their rights and further integration and acceptance.
2. Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru and Mumbai Pride Completes 10 Years
2018 was quite historic for pride parades and marches, with several cities completing 10 years of pride being held. The environment was quite celebratory as the community celebrated the striking down of Section 377.
3. Jamshedpur And Pondicherry University Celebrate Their 1st Pride
This was also the year of the first Jamshedpur Pride Parade being organised. Pondicherry University and its queer collective, Spectra PU, also celebrated its first pride on the 28th of September.
The energy in pride parades this year saw a marked difference, as activists and people within the community as well as allies celebrated the overturning of section 377, a judgement that the community had been fighting against for a very long time.
4. Coming Of Age Trans Depiction In Regional Cinema
In regional cinema, Njan Marykutty delivered good performance and an attempt to depict trans experience with more maturity, and was received well as a depiction of how the experience of a transgender person pans out.
Within the queer cinema culture, the Bangalore Queer Film Festival completed 10 years of showcasing LGBTQIA+ films and creating a platform for discussion and discourse about the issues faced by those within the community.
5. Netflix India Portrays Poignant Trans Character In Hit Web Series
A lot of conversation was created around the depiction of a transgender woman by Kubra Sait in the Netflix series, Sacred Games. This was one of the most progressive and raw depictions of a transgender person that the Indian scene has created and delivered this year, and one that was seen as a welcome move by the community.
6. First Transgender Lawmaker
Sathyasri Sharmila became India’s first transgender lawyer this year. She is from Tamil Nadu, and registered herself with the Bar Council of India, making her the first official transgender lawmaker in the Indian legal structure.
This comes on the heels of more positive changes within the structure and state institutions which saw the appointment of the first transgender judge, Joyita Mondal in 2017. India also got its first transgender police constable in 2017 in Rajasthan.
7. TISS Opens India’s First Gender Neutral Hostel
TISS got its first gender neutral hostel, as a result of persistent efforts made by the Queer Collective at the institute. The hostel became functional from June this year and is the first and only one in India so far. The hostel has an entire floor for those who identify as gender neutral, gender non-conforming or non-binary.
8. India Gets Its First Homegrown LGBTQIA+ App
India got its first LGBTQIA+ community app called Delta where people identifying as LGBTQIA+ can communicate and connect on a safe platform. The idea emerged from the founders of TrulyMadly and MakeMyTrip, who aimed to create a safe space, where those from the community didn’t receive hate for the way they identified.
8. Tinder Makes Platform More Inclusive With More Gender Identity Options
Tinder India introduced an expansive array of gender identity options for those who identify other than the already existing ‘man’ and ‘woman’ options on the gender identification feature in Tinder. Tinder said that it wanted to create a more inclusive platform for people from all identities to find what they are looking for.
9. MTV India Shows First Gay Couple On Reality Dating TV Show
In a first, MTV India aired an episode on its dating show Elevator Pitch featuring their first gay couple. The show features a gay individual travelling 10 floors and the 10 contestants have exactly as much time to convince the other person for a date as it takes for an elevator to reach from one floor to another.
10. Bharatanatyam Depicts LGBTQIA+ Struggles
A Bharatanatyam choreography from Indian Raga depicted the struggle of a daughter coming out to her mother when the mother coaxes her to marry a nice man. The dance is a journey of love and acceptance, performed by Aarathy Sundar and Swathi Jaisankar.
11. Designer Wendell Rodricks’ LGBTQIA+ Hotline Gets Church Support
A hotline started by designer Wendell Rodricks and Ruby Almeida to assist and help Catholic LGBTQIA+ youth and families received support from the Catholic Church. Rodericks and Almeida run the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, and met Cardinal Gracias and received support for their work from the Church.
12. Protests Against Trans Bill 2018
The trans community vehemently opposes the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2018 that was passed in the Lok Sabha. They believe it to have been hurriedly passed and the amendments proposed to be detrimental – the bill demands screening tests, lighter punishments for those that discriminate against transgender people and no reservations in education or jobs. The proposed bill has been seen as regressive, and the community is fighting against it since the bill will end up doing more harm than good.
All in all, 2018 has been a year of immense growth for the community in India in terms of some of the draconian laws being removed, and celebrating historic and monumental achievements. The community continues to strive for acceptance and fighting against persecution, and sees a more hopeful future in 2019.
This is by no means an exhaustive or representative list. Suggestions to add to the list are welcome in the comments section.