It’s Time We Talk about LGBT Rights

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In India, far too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people live lives of secrecy and shame. Those who reveal their sexual identities or deviate from gender norms face social rejection, economic marginalization, and physical violence.

Breaking these taboos, Satyamev Jayate, India’s leading public affairs programme, has highlighted the challenges that still confront LGBT communities in India. In the October 19th episode, Aamir Khan and the Satyamev Jayate team vividly shared the hopes and bitter realities of too many of LGBT Indians.

Simran Shaikh, a key member of Alliance India’s Pehchan programme team, was interviewed by Aamir during Sunday’s programme and described her personal triumph over the discrimination and violence she has faced. She told the story of her life as a hijra, from being on the streets at the age of 14 and making a living as a bar dancer to her work today as a programme officer raising awareness of HIV/AIDS and as an advocate speaking out for LGBT rights in India and around the world.

In one of the programme’s most memorable segments, Simran spoke movingly of her personal journey and the work that remains to achieve equality. She observed, “I am deeply troubled by the everyday injustices faced by my LGBT brothers and sisters. We need to fight the internalised homophobia and transphobia in our communities and transform our fear of our own gender and sexual identities. We must celebrate who we are. “

Sataymev Jayate continues to challenge India to address the issues that undermine the country’s progress. The “Accepting Alternative Sexualities” episode will help expand our national conversation on sexuality and gender identity toward encouraging their full acceptance. As the programme’s slogan attests, change is possible, and this can be a beginning of the change India needs.

Even though sexual minorities are full citizens of this country, they are denied opportunities to earn a living, study, and access health services. Many families reject them and push them further to society’s margins, increasing their vulnerability to a range of harms including HIV. We must join together to fight the insidious impact of homophobia and transphobia. India’s LGBT community deserves freedom too!

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