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Queer InFocus | July I ’19

Queer InFocus is a bimonthly roundup of queer news in India.

A fashion show in Kolkata brings to life the LGBTQ community as seen in Indian mythologies

July 01, 2019

Senco Gold and Diamonds, an Indian jewellery retail chain, hosted a fashion show to launch their Pride Collection. The show, titled “Sphulingo – Freedom of Expression”, featured transgender men and transgender women showcasing the collection dressed as transgender characters from various Indian mythologies, including Shikhandi, Mohini and Chitrangada.

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DCW sets up special cell for LGBTQ community

July 01, 2019

The Delhi Commission for Women set up a transgender cell this July, which aims to look into complaints of violence, abuse, harrasment, and discrimination as registered by the LGBTQ community. The cell, announced by the commission in March this year, also aims to create awareness and advocate for the causes of the community. Working under the suggestions of the LGBTQ community, the cell has involved members of the community in their processes and functioning.

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Divya Dutta and Swara Bhasker to Play Homosexual Partners in New Queer Film Sheer Khurma

July 05, 2019

Faraz Arif Ansari, director of Sisak, India’s first silent LBGTQ story, announced his next project – Sheer Khurma. The movie will trace a queer woman’s journey for acceptance, belonging and acceptance from her family. The film stars Divya Dutta and Swara Bhasker as a couple and will feature Surekha Sikri in a pivotal role. This movie will be an important addition to the catalogue of mainstream queer Hindi cinema.

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Get Hyped! Ayushmann Khurrana Might Romance Rajkummar Rao In Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan

July 05, 2019

Following the success of ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhan’, a semi-sequel titled ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’ has been announced by the makers of the film. In tandem with its predecessor, the movie will be highlighting a different bodily issue that is shunned from open conversation. While ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhan’ broached its topic through a straight couple, its semi-sequel intends to do that through a same-sex couple. Ayushmann Khurrana will be working with Anand L Rai, and it is speculated that one of the partners will be played by Rajkummar Rao.

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Image source: TOI

Farhad Karkaria and Navin Noronha on being hosts of India’s only queer podcast, hold a no barred approach to their conversations

July 08, 2019

“Keeping it Queer”, India’s only queer podcast, launched its third edition last month. The podcast aims to look at popular culture from a queer Indian’s perspective. Noronha says that the podcast is a medium through which he can address the queer community on a variety of subjects. For Karkaria, the show has been a learning experience that has increased awareness for both, the hosts as well as the listeners. For the hosts, the objective is to tell the stories of their lives.

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Delhi HC dismisses petition seeking recognition of LGBT relationships, rights to marriage, adoption and divorce

July 9, 2019

The Delhi High Court on 8 July dismissed a petition seeking directions to make rules and regulations to recognise LGBT community members’ issues such as marriage, adoption and divorce. The court argued that drafting such a reform was the responsibility of the legislature and necessary measurements are being taken by the concerned ministry for the upliftment of the transgender community.

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Historic Gold Win For Dutee Chand: India’s First Openly Lesbian Athlete

July 11, 2019

Dutee Chand, India’s only openly queer track and field athlete, cinched a gold medal at the World University Games held in Naples this year. She won the medal in the women’s 100 metre race, completing it in 11.32 seconds, thus becoming the first Indian athlete to qualify for and win the race. Chand came out earlier this year and faced backlash from her family for her relationship. Despite criticism, Chand has continued to compete and she was placed fifth at the conclusion of the World University Games.

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India’s first LGBTI job fair draws a crowd in Bangalore

July 12, 2019

Pride Circle held India’s first LGBTI job fair in Bangalore on the 12th of July. The RISE job fair — an acronym for Reimagining Inclusion for Social Equity, saw more than 35 companies participate and saw a footfall of more than 450 candidates. Companies such as Goldman Sachs (GS), Ford (F), Uber (UBER), Accenture (ACN), Intel (INTC), Godrej — a family-owned conglomerate — and luggage maker VIP Industries were some of the big names amongst the employers. The ones that secured a place had a chance of competing for around 250 jobs at 35 different companies. A similar job fair will be held later this month in Mumbai and will be organized by Six Degrees.

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Noida based queer networking app ‘Blued’ counters cyberbullying

July 12, 2019

In a bid to address the harrassment faced by queer youth on social media, Blued, along with Queerythm and Ya.All has launched a 24*7 helpline (9745545559 / 6009032883). Individuals can phone in and report incidents of cyberbullying. The online campaign also aims to educate people on how to stay safe and spread awareness on the precautions one has to take while making a dating profile as well as while approaching people. Blued India’s marketing director stated that this initiative was started to help create a safer environment for all.

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Government approves Bill To Empower Transgenders in India, But Community Remains Apprehensive

July 12, 2019

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 was passed by the Union Cabinet on the 10th of July. The bill aims to promote and work towards the social, economical and educational empowerment of the community by defining their identity and rights to prohibit discrimination against them. The draft bill, which was passed without any new amendments, faces heavy criticism from the transgender community due to its contentious nature.

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India abstains from giving the U.N. vote on LGBTQ Independent Expert, draws criticism

July 12, 2019

India abstained from voting in favour of term-renewal of the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity at the UNHRC. This move comes after the landmark decision on the absolution of Section 377. In the run up to the voting, an online campaign was launched to urge a positive vote, and was backed by public figures such as Shashi Tharoor and Supriya Sule. The mandate was passed regardless as it received support from most of the member countries of the HRC.

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Bill to make sexual crimes gender neutral, introduced in Parliament

July 14, 2019

Senior lawyer and Parliamentarian KTS Tulsi introduced a private members bill before the Rajya Sabha to introduce amendments in the criminal laws to make sexual offences gender neutral. Among the amendments suggested, the bill calls for changing the definition of the perpetrator and victim of sexual assault from “man ” and “woman” to “any person”, thus acknowledging the spectrum of gender identities. It also calls for new offences to be introduced in the rape laws, making existing laws stricter. This bill was postponed in 2013 amidst the outrage following the Nirbhaya rape case.

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COMMENTARY:

The first half of July has been party to quite a few landmark events. Since the decriminalization of Section 377, all eyes have been on the courts, to see the judgements passed on bills and rights for the future. India’s stand on queer rights and issues seem to be as flippant as before, although there has been a marked increase in the support the community receives from official channels. At such a crucial political juncture, it is important to ensure that actions taken are not in contradiction to themselves.

Aditi Paul is a Research Associate with the Queer Resource Centre at One Future Collective.

One Future Collective