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Queer Infocus | September I ’19

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

Many channels rejected me, they never considered my merit: Kerala’s first transwoman journalist

September 02, 2019

Heidi Saddia is the first transwoman to have been hired by a broadcast channel in Kerala. Kairali channel, a Malayalam news channel, hired Heidi first as a trainee. Previously a medical student, Heidi has faced rejection from a lot of avenues and has also been discriminated against heavily. Heidi has now made her first appearance on television while doing a live report on Chandrayaan 2.

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Transgender Rani Kinnar becomes India’s first 5-star-rated cab driver: Report

September 06, 2019

Defying stringent social impositions, Rani Kinnar has become India’s first five-star-rated cab driver. An employee of Uber, Rani has her own car and has worked a variety of jobs. Refusing to work on trains, Rani started working as a auto rickshaw driver and then worked as an ambulance driver during Rath Yatra Puja at Puri. Now, Rani continues to encourage others like her.

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Kerala’s First openly married gay couple is now fighting for Right to Adopt

September 7, 2019

Nikesh Usha Pushkaran and Sonu MS, considered Kerala’s first openly gay and married couple, are now looking to adopt. A Chennai based LGBTQIA+ organisation is looking to approach the Supreme Court in regards to marriage and adoption rights for the community. The couple hope to get married on official records and are looking to adopt a child. In Nikesh’s words, “The child can get two fathers instead.”

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India’s LGBT community calls for civil rights, a year after decriminalisation

September 08, 2019

The year following the repeal of Section 377 definitely has looked different for LGBT people of India. Although freedom in a manner of speaking has been achieved, discrimination still persists. There is a cry for acknowledgement of civil rights, an area that is in need of immediate attention. The rights to property, medical aid, marriage, surrogacy, adoption and employment are some of the few areas that demand action. With the recent rejection of an appeal for civil rights of LGBT persons, it is more important than ever to review the same.

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India’s only LGBT choir, Rainbow Voices from Mumbai is touring the world and fighting stereotypes

September 09, 2019

Rainbow Voices, India’s first queer choir, is ready to go on tour. For over a year, the group has been singing Bollywood mixes in a bid to communicate through music. The group has been sustaining itself well for one being composed of people usually doing 9 to 5 jobs. Rainbow Voices have previously gone abroad and performed with Pink Singers, a LGBT choir group in London. Currently, all their concerts are sold out.

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In a first, suicide prevention helpline for LGBT community

September 10, 2019

A toll free helpline, 1800111015, created by the NGO SPACE, has been operational since August 1. The suicide prevention helpline, working from 10 am to 6 pm everyday, is manned by Maira Khan, a trained counsellor. Maira, herself a member of the transgender community, speaks to the callers for 15 – 20 minutes and takes follow up calls, which she considers extremely important. The NGO also began a multi-pronged programme for suicide prevention on World Suicide Prevention Day.

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Transgender people tell us why India’s newly proposed rape laws are discriminatory

September 11, 2019

The transgender community of India have begun a campaign with the hashtag #RapeisRape to highlight the discriminatory guidelines set forth by the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill. The bill states that violence, abuse, and rape against transgender people can be punishable with jail time from six months to two years, and a fine. This stands in stark comparison to the punishment for rape of cis-gendered women, which gives the offender seven years of jail time to a life sentence. The accusation against the bill then stands to say that it does not regard transpersons as true citizens of India, and stands in violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

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Indian city encouraged trans people to apply for police force. Instead of being given jobs, they were outed.

September 11, 2019

In 2018, Chhattisgarh announced a recruitment drive for transgender persons to work in their police force. Despite months of training and study, no recruits have joined the force. Activists have accused the police of mismanagement and delay of exam results. This delay has inadvertently led to many of the recruits being pre-maturely outed to their families due to the media coverage on the same. The allure of a job in the police force is one that carries a marker of respect. To be a part of the force that has had a history of violence against the community is a subversive act, and applicants hoped that this move meant there was an acceptance of the trans community. Despite the hardships, applicants have decide to resit the tests if the results are thrown out.

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Aditi Paul is a Research Associate with the Queer Resource Center, One Future Collective.

One Future Collective