Meet the brave LGBTI candidates making history in India’s general election

These LGBTI Indians are making history (Photo: Twitter / Facebook)

The world’s largest democracy kicked off its mammoth general election last week.

More than 900 million people will head to the polls over the next four weeks.

This year’s elections are the most LGBTI-inclusive yet.

For the first time, homosexual Indians will head to the polls without being regarded as a criminal after India’s Supreme Court decriminalized gay sex in a landmark ruling last year.

What’s more, transgender Indians are able to register to vote as a third gender after

Some parties have also included LGBTI issues, such as anti-discrimination legislation, same-sex marriage, and a transgender rights bill, in their manifestos.

Finally, for the first, openly-queer Indians are entering politics and putting themselves on the ballot paper. Let’s meet them:

Sneha Kale

Sneha Kale will run for parliament (Photo: Twitter)

Sneha Kale will run for parliament. (Photo: Twitter)

Sneha Kale became the first ever transgender candidate to run for elections when she announced her bid last month.

The 26-year-old is contesting the Mumbai North Central seat in Maharashtra State.

Although she has a degree, like many transgender Indians, Sneha Kale begs for a living.

‘We face all sorts of discrimination, disappointment and no recognition in the society’ she told previously told the Mumbai Mirror.

She said transgender people had no access to education, employment, or housing.

‘I want to raise their questions in the Parliament, as I am one of them’ she said.

Ashwathi Rajappan

Chinju Aswathi (Photo: Facebook)

Chinju Ashwathi (Photo: Facebook)

Ashwathi Rajappan, also known as Chinju, also made history last month by becoming the first intersex person to seek a seat in parliament.

The 25-year-old is running in Ernakulam, in the southern state of Kerala.

Chinju is well-known among the LGBTI and human rights community in India.

They said the lives of intersex Indians are even worse than transgender citizens.

’Society is not ready to recognize its [intersex] segment’ they told Newsrupt. ‘I would like to raise issues of the disenfranchised’ they said.

Radha

Radha (middle) canvassing for votes (Photo:Twitter)

Radha (middle) canvassing for votes. (Photo:Twitter)

Radha is moving away from her career as a cook to run for a seat in Chennai.

She is the only transgender candidate running in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Radha has promised to address the local water crisis, garbage and drainage in her home state. She also wants to represent the transgender community on a national level.

She said after the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that recognized a third gender, there was still more work to do.

‘The verdict says trans people should have equality in terms of marriage, education, legal heirship. This has not been implemented’ she said.

Jatin Mummy

Jatin Mummy on the campaign trail. (Photo: Twitter)

Jatin Mummy on the campaign trail. (Photo: Twitter)

Also in Mumbai, Jatin Mummy identifies as Kinnar. Kinnar and Hijra are non-binary identities in India that can refer to people also considered transgender, intersex, or eunuchs.

Jatin Mummy has engaged the 123 registered voters in their constituency to campaign door-to-door.

Jatin Mummy, 44, also promised to implement the Supreme Court ruling for the welfare of non-binary Indians.

Chirpi Bhawani

Chirpi Bhawani joins AAP. (Photo: Twitter)

Chirpi Bhawani joins AAP. (Photo: Twitter)

Chirpi Bhawani is a social activist in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. She previously served on the jury of the Delhi International Film Festival.

Chirpi Bhawani has joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to contest the Prayagraj seat. She promises to ta Cole unemployment and demonetization.

Chirpi Bhawani said transgender have suffered a lot. She said the ruling party had treated transgender people ‘like beggars’.
‘AAP stood with us when no one else did’ she claimed.

Author: Rik Glauert

The post Meet the brave LGBTI candidates making history in India’s general election appeared first on Gay Star News.

India’s intersex politician reports abuse by police

Chinju Aswathi (Photo: Facebook)

India’s only intersex candidate in upcoming elections filed accusations of police abuse in the southern city of Kerala this week.

Chinju Ashwathi said police abused them with ‘filthy language’ and threatened to beat them.

Aswathi is running for a seat in the lower house of parliament representing Ernakulam in the southern state of Kerala as an independent candidate.

In a petition filed to the chief of Kerala police, Aswathi says police stopped their auto rickshaw at 2.30am on Sunday.

They report that a police driver used filthy language to abuse them. He then threatened to beet Aswathi.

According to their petition, the police driver snatched Aswathi’s phone and pushed their shoulder.

A police inspector was sitting in the police car and witnessed the incident, according to Aswathi.

‘This incident has shaken me and hurt my dignity’ Aswathi wrote in the petition shared on Facebook.

‘I am ashamed of living in such a country where the police has no respect or humanitarian consideration for people like me’

Aswathi demanded ‘strict action’ against the two police officers involved.

Making history

Aswathi is the first intersex Indian to run for national parliamentary elections in India.

They said the lives of intersex Indians are even worse than transgender citizens.

’Society is not ready to recognize its [intersex] segment’ they told Newsrupt.

They said that intersex rights were abused in Kerala and young intersex people were often forced to live as men or women.

About 1.7% of people are born with atypical sex characteristics, including variations in the chromosomes, genitalia, gonads, or sex hormones.

Doctors worldwide typically perform surgery on those born with variations.

But, recent research and activism, however, have decried intersex surgery as both simply cosmetic and actively harmful.

A group of European doctors last year advised postponing surgery until the child can be involved in the decision.

Aswathi said they would work with other marginalized Keralans such as LGBTI, minority Dalits, fishermen, and women.

Elections in India

India’s general elections starting this month will be the first time trans Indians can vote as a third gender.

But, according to local media, not many transgender voters have registered.

Nearly 39,000 voters have registered as ‘third gender’. But, according to a 2014 census found, at least 500,000 Indians identify as transgender.

What’s more, Sneha Kale made headlines as the first-ever trans woman to run in the general election.

And the local government of one of India’s largest states, Karnataka, appointed its first transgender employee.

India’s first Miss Trans Queen also joined one of the country’s largest political parties.

Earlier this year, the same party appointed its first transgender office-bearer..

Violence continues, however. One trans politician running for office in Hyderabad went missing during her election campaign.

Last month, a man decapitated a trans priestess in her temple.

India’s Supreme Court in 2014 recognized trans identities as a third gender.

But, the community remains marginalized. Families and employers shun trans individuals.

What’s more, activists have slammed a trans rights bill currently in the Upper House of Parliament. They say it further infringes rights rather than protects them.

Author: Rik Glauert

The post India’s intersex politician reports abuse by police appeared first on Gay Star News.

LGBTI group in India launches campaign to promote inclusive voting

LGBTI and allies in India hold a rainbow flag

With the upcoming lower parliament elections gathering steam, Mumbai’s LGBTI community is working to spread awareness with a social media campaign.

Queer organization Gaysi has taken to Instagram to urge voters to be more aware of what parties are actually saying about the LGBTI community in their manifestos.

Voting began on 11 April and is open until 19 May. Lok Sabha, India’s lower parliament, will announce the results on 23 May.

‘Chock-a-block with homophobic voices’

In an Instagram post, Gaysi sketched out what each party vying for people’s vote stand LGBTI right-wise.

Sakshi Juneja, co-founder of Gaysi, told Mid-Day that they are highlighting the stands of political parties.

‘We don’t tell people who to vote for, but want to educate them about issues relevant to the community.

Congress and CPI [Communist Party of India] have included our community in their manifestos and mentioned issues while BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] hasn’t.’

What did they say about the parties?

They slammed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for being ‘chock-a-block with homophobic voices, who provoke communal and regional tensions on the daily.’

Gaysi cast a light on party members denouncing the repeal of Section 377. A section of the Indian Penal Code that banned queer sex.

Last year, the Supreme Court voted unanimously to repeal the act.

The BJP’s ‘two lines for transgender welfare’ also came under fire from Gaysi, who said it ‘almost seems like forced tokenism at this point.’

The aforementioned two lines include policy initiatives to promote visibility of trans people, and skill development avenues for trans youth.

‘The most comprehensive’ party

The group spoke positively about the Communist Party of India, who dubbed their manifesto ‘the most comprehensive’ when it comes to LGBTI progress.

For example, one pledge includes introducing measures to address LGBTI discrimination in schools. Such as more trans-inclusive bathrooms.

Meanwhile, the Indian National Congress party pledged to withdraw a controversial trans rights bill. Trans rights groups have critisized the bill for denying trans people the right to self-identify.

LGBTI voters are front and center

As election season fires up, trans voters are in the heated spotlight. Visibility in the Asian country is on the up as trans people create their own powerful political presence.

Importantly, more and more trans Indians are assuming positions of power.

Furthermore, trans Indians will also be able to vote as a third gender for the first time.

As a result, just over 39,000 voters registered under the trans-inclusive option. Though, a 2014 consensus found at least 5000,000 Indian citizens identify as trans.

India’s voting systems 101

With around 900 million voters, almost 2,000 registered parties, and five weeks of voting, the Indian elections can seem cacophonous.

Moreover, political pundits cannot simply shade the country’s patchwork of states, cultures, and various classes red or blue; it’s a kaleidoscopic country.

But as voters take to the polls, they will take stock of the country’s soaring unemployment rates, rising spates of violence, and farmer’s frustrations as India’s agriculture is suffocated by drying policies.

However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his right-wing Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party are fighting to retain power.

But they face a rising opponent in the form of the Indian Congress Party.

See also

India’s oldest political party mulls LGBTI rights in election manifesto

‘Hard work’ got first trans government employee to where she is today in India

India appoints beauty queen to motivate transgender voters

Author: Josh Milton

The post LGBTI group in India launches campaign to promote inclusive voting appeared first on Gay Star News.