One Future Collective is an organization that works towards building compassionate youth social leadership through the use of art, education, community intervention and policy advocacy – across verticals of gender justice, mental health, legal reform and development policy.

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Queer Infocus | July II ’19

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

Photos of the Bihar Pride Parade Show How India Is Slowly Changing

15th July, 2019

Patna, in Bihar, celebrated its pride parade with 500 people attending. The turnout shows the growth in the movement in Patna, with the first pride in 2012 having 20 people attend. A 500m transgender flag was present along the route, with that being the only flag the organisers had received permission for. The transgender community are the most visible in Patna, but there is still a lot of ignorance around the rest of the LGBT community. Indian Awwrat hopes for many activists to remain in Bihar, to create social change for the future.

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Businesses start to include LGBTQ+ inclusive policies

16th July, 2019

Corporations such as Citigroup and Star India are joining other organisations in making their policies more inclusive for LGBTQ+ employees. Star India has extended their group health insurance to cover partners of its LGBTQ+ employees, while other companies such as IBM, Accenture, Lalit etc have began to offer medical insurance to same-sex partners of LGBTQ+ employees. Citigroup has also extended their family health insurance coverage to all ‘domestic partners’, including live-in partners and LGBTQ+ partners. Citigroup has set up a Pride Network, which was launched earlier in March, to connect LGBTQ+ individuals together.

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Government To Fund Gender Affirming Surgeries in Bihar

17th July, 2019

Sushil Kumar Modi, Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, made the announcement that Bihar will help pay for gender affirming surgeries, by providing 1.5lakh rupees to trans people looking to undergo surgery. The funding will only cover a small portion of the surgeries, which can cost between 8 to 55 lakh rupees. Modi also announced that anyone denying a trans person housing or employment could face up to two years in jail.

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Swiggy’s first transgender employee is leading a diversity drive at the Indian foodtech unicorn.

17th July, 2019

Samyuktha Vijayan, having worked in Bengalaru, moved to Europe and then the US, to not only work for Amazon, but to begin her transition process. In 2017 she moved back to India, wanting to support the transgender community, and this year she became the first transgender employee of the food delivery unicorn Swiggy. As a member of the diversity and inclusion council, she is advocating for Swiggy to hire more LGBT individuals, and be seen as a company that promotes inclusiveness.

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Bullied by peers, India’s LGBT+ children drop out of schools

18th July, 2019

In UNESCO’s survey of nearly 400 LGBT+ youth in Tamil Nadu, more than half skipped classes to avoid bullying, with a third dropping out of school. The LGBT+ rights charity Sahodaran assisted in the research. The type of abuse manifests in numerous ways, from name calling and rumours, and escalates all the way to threats of rape and violence. While the Tamil Nadu state education department has a general hotline for students for counselling, and periodic gender sensitisation workshops, UNESCO found that schools do little to nothing to support victims of abuse. They often perpetuate victim-blaming sentiments, telling students to change their behaviours, or just completely dismiss the abuse by telling students to ignore it. For Shemba, Pragya and Chennila, three trans women who had to drop out of school and college, their hopes of future career aspirations are halted due to not being able to finish schooling. They have to turn to begging and other measures, which is a similar story for many other bullied LGBTQ+ children who are forced to drop out of school.

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Blued launches first anti-cyberbullying campaign in India for the LGBTQ+ Community

18th July, 2019

TW: This post and the full article contains mentions of suicide.

After the tragic suicide of Avinshu Patel, and a continued trend of harassment towards LGBTQ+ individuals (with it being reported that 42% of the community have been victims of virtual harassment), Blued (the largest gay dating social media app) has launched India’s first anti-cyberbullying campaign for the LGBTQ+ community. The campaign aims to tackle bullying, blackmail and extortion over social media apps by providing helplines, which is an increasing concern online. Blued hopes to increase trust with their users, when they provide information, and create a safe platform for members to speak up and seek help.

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Section 377 Lawyers Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju Come Out as a Couple

21st July, 2019

The two lawyers who were leading the fight for the decriminalisation of Section 377 of the IPC, have come out as a couple. They represented the five original petitioners in court during the process and they came out in an international interview with CNN, highlighting that it was not just a loss as lawyers, but also a loss as citizens. Guruswamy and Katju had argued the case in court in 2013, after the Supreme Court upheld the decision to keep it criminalised. The couple were listed by TIME as their 100 most influential people of 2019, and both hoped that this ruling would lead to reform in other countries with anti-LGBTQ+ colonial laws.

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India set to get first dedicated LGBT hiring consultancy

21st July, 2019

The Bengalaru-based Diversity and Inclusion firm, the Pride Circle, will create a wing to look at the job consultancy market for LGBTQ+ candidates. They aim to work with companies to eliminate biases in the recruitment process and provide support for candidates with interviews. The World Bank reported in 2014 that the country has approximately lost between 0.1-1.7% of the GDP due to homophobia. This news follows the first LGBTQ+ job fair that RISE organised, with 40 companies participating and 300 people attending.

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Creating Jobs For India’s Transgender Community

26th July, 2019

Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, prominent transgender activist and leader, recently launched Kineer Services, a start-up to create jobs for India’s transgender community. The start-up, which produces packaged drinking water, prioritises hiring members from the transgender community, and also helps them find work in the corporate sector. The transgender community still faces discrimination and violence in terms of employment. Tripathi highlights the need for the community to create their own opportunities, free from stigma and discrimination in the workplace.

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This month has seen an emphasis on more corporations and businesses implementing LGBTQ+ policies. This is a great win for the community, and can hopefully lead to more businesses following the same inclusive structure. While this is a great first step, organisations need to be more intentional on specifically focusing on how to reduce employment discimination towards the transgender community, and make them feel more included with dignity and respect. It has been inspiring to see many trans activists and leaders taking charge themselves and lifting each other up, and further to see that the two lawyers who were instrumental in securing our rights as LGBTQ+ people also came out themselves.

Harshil Shah is a Research Assistant with the Queer Resource Centre at One Future Collective.

One Future Collective