India launches LGBT taxi service in spite of anti-gay law

A travel company and an LGBT rights organisation have come together to launch a new taxi service for the LGBT community in India.

The Humsafar Trust and Wings Travel have teamed up to train five drivers for the “Wings Rainbow” service, which will begin taking passengers next year in Mumbai.

The five drivers, whom are members of the LGBT community, will undergo a year’s training which includes attaining permanent drivers licenses and training in customer etiquette.

Speaking to The Hindi newspaper, Wings Travel director Arun Kharat said: “We want them to be eventual entrepreneurs and own these vehicles.

“We want to ensure that the LGBT community in India enjoys the same rights and livelihood opportunities in India as their counterparts in the West.”

According to Pallav Patankar, program director for the Humsafar Trust, after a recent supreme court decision that reaffirmed the rights of transgender people, the project started after several businesses offered to employ LGBT citizens.

“After the NALSA (National Legal Services Authority) judgment, several business houses came forward to offer employment to the transgender and sexual minority community.” Pantakar told The Hindu.

“In the current batch [of drivers], we have two members of the hijra community, but we hope that more members of the hijra and transgender community will come forward.”

In 2013 the Supreme Court of India shocked the world by re-criminalising homosexuality after previously throwing out a colonial era law that banned homosexuality in 2009.

There has been several attempts to change the law, but so far these have been unsuccessful.

However, several lawmakers in the country have launched public campaigns to reverse the supreme court decision.

Recently a prominent former judge has recently hit out at the decision, calling the move a “mistake”.

In spite of these signs of hope for the countries LGBT community, homophobia is still widespread in the country. Recently a PhD student claimed that gay people were using apps like Grindr to cheat in their exams.