Queer activists issue ‘urgent call for justice and equality’, demanding sweeping reforms to India’s LGBT+ rights

Mumbai LGBT+ Queer pride

LGBT+ activists in Mumbai have launched a petition to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption as an “urgent call for justice and equality”.

The Humsafar Trust, an LGBT+ rights organisation in Mumbai, started the petition at the end of Pride Month.

While LGBT+ acceptance is growing in the country, the petition states: “We, the LGBTQ+ people of India believe that there can not be a right time to ask for equal rights which are already enshrined in the Indian constitution but cannot be accessed by the LGBTQ+ community.”

The Humsafar Trust is calling for the “recognition of same-sex marriage, adoption rights for LGBTQ+ community, anti-discrimination laws and gender-neutral rape laws that recognise sexual violence on gay men, and transgender persons equally”.

It is also demanding “inheritance rights for LGBTQ+ persons who are cohabiting with their partners but cannot inherit their same-sex spouse’s property” and the “right to jointly own property, take housing loans, insurance, and employment benefits to the same-sex spouse”.

India has made some progress on LGBT+ rights.

India has seen its Supreme Court deliver two historic rulings for the LGBT+ community within the last decade, but true equality is a long way off.

Gay sex became legal in India in September 2018, when the Supreme Court scrapped Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, branding it “unconstitutional”.

In 2014, the Court legally recognised trans and non-binary people for the first time, but the Humsafar Trust said the ruling has “not changed much for the transgender community”.

In fact, the passing of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act last year, the trust said, “completely omits the provisions for affirmative action to eliminate discrimination in employment and education”.

Co-founder of the Humsafar Trust, Suhail Abbasi, told the Times of India that the petition was “an urgent call for justice and equality”.

Vivek Anand, the CEO of the trust, added: “In the last two years since decriminalisation and reading down of Section 377, our experience shows that the number of reported instances of violence against LGBTQ+ has gone up.

“Many young LGBTQ+ have come out openly, but that has also increased their vulnerability to extortion, bullying and violence.

“It is imperative that our civil rights be given to us.”