Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Press Release: Indian Supreme Court Ruling on Third Gender Category



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sapna Pandya
President, KhushDC (Washington, DC)

Today, in an historic ruling, the Indian Supreme Court joined its counterparts in Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan to create a third gender classification for India's communities that identify outside of oppressive "male or female only" gender classification systems.

In response, KhushDC President Sapna Pandya issued the following statement:

“We applaud the Indian Supreme Court's decision creating a third gender category for transgender Indians.  We support the Court's declaration that ‘all people have a right to choose their gender,’ and that the Constitution guarantees ‘equal opportunity to every citizen to grow and attain their potential, irrespective of caste, religion or gender.’”

“While today's decision is critical and just, much work remains.  First and foremost, it is important for jurisprudential experts to derive a precise understanding of the ruling and its impact on both gender and sexual minorities in India, so that activists can keep advocating for the strongest and clearest protections possible for transgender Indians.”

“Secondly, we hope the Indian government will make it a priority to enact accessible laws that will actually empower and protect India's transgender communities not just on paper, but in all spheres of life.”

“Finally, we hope that the Court will use precisely the reasoning it endorsed today to reverse its recent ruling and finally strike down the Indian Penal Code's Section 377, which criminalizes homosexual sex and has been used to persecute transgender Indians and other sexual minorities for over a century.  It is impossible to empower and protect transgender Indians while declaring the sexuality of so many of them to be criminal.”


KhushDC is a social, support and political group that provides a safe and supportive environment, promotes awareness and acceptance, and fosters positive cultural and sexual identity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) and additional gender or sexual minority South Asians in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.


We represent a broad array of nationalities including those of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Press Release: North American South Asian LGBTQ Groups Disappointed in 377 Ruling



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Contacts

Almas Haider
Chair, Satrang (Los Angeles, California)

Sapna Pandya
President, KhushDC (Washington, DC)

Monica Elise Davis
Advocacy Director, Trikone (San Francisco)


South Asian LGBTQ Groups in North America Disappointed with India's Supreme Court Ruling, Recriminalizing Homosexual Sex
Groups Organizing Coordinated Protests this Friday, December 13, across the U.S.


As South Asian LGBTQ organizations based in North America, we are shocked and disappointed by the Indian Supreme Court’s decision to re-criminalize homosexual sex in India by reactivating Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

377 is an arcane and draconian ban on homosexual sex that was imposed by the British Raj across South Asia and other colonies in the 19th century. It should have no bearing on the present-day rights of citizens in free countries. We stand with awe-inspiring Indian LGBTQ activists and allies who have fought for decades to repeal the ban and are heartened by the millions of Indians who oppose it. We are more determined than ever help remove the indignity of 377 from the Constitutions of not just India, but all countries where it was forcibly levied.

Make no mistake: the Supreme Court has taken away fundamental rights that their own judicial peers convincingly argue are guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. In 2009, in a historic decision rooted in Indian jurisprudence and culture, the Indian High Court of Delhi declared 377 unconstitutional. For 150 years, 377 was used to brutally persecute sexual minorities across the country, and the Delhi Court correctly argued that the violent and foreign law contradicted the Constitution’s promise of absolute dignity and equality for all Indian citizens. Its decision effectively decriminalized homosexual sex across India for over four years—profound progress that the Supreme Court invalidated yesterday.

Where the Delhi Court’s ruling was bold and powerful, the Supreme Court’s decision is heartbreakingly timid. In overturning the Delhi decision and reinforcing 377, the Court side-stepped many questions on the merits of the case, and provided superficial and incorrect assessments of the rest.  Ignoring history altogether, it claimed that 377 does not discriminate against any group, but “merely identifies certain acts” as illegal.  The bench also implied that protecting the rights of LGBTQ persons was not their job but that of the Indian Parliament. 

The Court is wrong.

The Indian Constitution not only empowers the judiciary but also requires it to protect minority rights. Rather than proving itself equal to the task, India’s highest court has sent the dangerous message that minority rights should be vulnerable to the whims of the majority.  Its decision is nothing short of a dereliction of their duty to uphold the Constitution.

But the fight is not over.  Activists of all stripes are determined to defeat 377.  We stand in solidarity with activists from Naz Foundation, the lead plaintiff calling for a repeal of 377; Humsafar Trust, a leading HIV/AIDS and sexual minority support and advocacy group in India; Voices Against 377, a diverse group of organizations and Indian leaders who oppose the ban; and countless other groups, writers, activists, politicians and community organizers that have worked tirelessly to construct growing spaces where LGBTQ people can live without fear of violence or discrimination in India. We are deeply inspired by their renewed determination to repeal 377.  As immigrant-based groups, we are especially concerned about the impact this setback will have on South Asians who worry that their government does not welcome them. In the days to come, we will create spaces where fair-minded South Asians can protest the Supreme Court’s decision, support each other and assist leaders of the cause.

As a start, this Friday December 13th, South Asian LGBTQ organizations are organizing a series of coordinated candlelight vigils across the United States and Canada to lend some light to the Indian government, because the Supreme Court decision on IPC 377 demonstrates the degree to which India is still in the dark.

We have also created a YouTube channel for members of our communities to voice their anguish, concern, and solidarity via video message.

Please check our Facebook and Twitter feeds, or email organizational leads for details about these and future initiatives.  In your social media comments, please use #377updates and #377insolidarity so we can compile our community’s responses.

In solidarity,

KhushDC

Khush – Tejas

MASALA

SALGA – New York

SALGA – Philadelphia
           
Satrang

Trikone

Trikone – Atlanta      

Trikone – Chicago     

Trikone – North-West

hotpot! Philly

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Protest Against Anti-LGBTQ Ruling in India - Dec. 13

On Wednesday, India's Supreme Court re-criminalized homosexuality in India. This law is known as Section 377 in the Indian Penal Code and it has been used to harass, silence, and imprison the LGBTQ community in the country.

KhushDC applauds the great work of activists and leaders in India who have brought international light to the struggles of LGBTQ people in India and other parts of South Asia today through this drawn-out legal battle, which is a tremendous accomplishment in itself. 

In solidarity with those organizers, LGBTQ South Asian groups from across the United States are holding a coordinated series of candlelight rallies to lend some light to the Indian government, because the Supreme Court decision on 377 demonstrates the degree to which India is still in the dark.

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Protest Against Anti-LGBTQ Ruling in India

Date: Friday, December 13

Time: 6pm sharp

Location: Indian Embassy (2107 Massachusetts Ave NW)












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After the candlelight rally, join us at our previously scheduled Bollywood LGBTQ dance party Jalwa. Doors open at 9:30pm. More information here: https://www.facebook.com/events/215363741978514/

*Photos and video will be taken, with participants consent, for a national campaign to raise awareness and support for overturning the Supreme Court of India's ruling.

**Please be on time for this important event and bring family and friends in solidarity. Email board@khushdc.org for more information or post below.

Should LGBT Activists in India Just Give Up?

Shawn Jain is a KhushDC Board Member and Media Strategist at the ACLU. The following was originally posted on ACLU's site here.

Should LGBT Activists in India Just Give Up?
By: Shawn Jain


Late last night, like many LGBT South Asian Americans, I waited anxiously to see how India's Supreme Court would rule on a colonial-era law that criminalized homosexuality. The ruling came in just after midnight Eastern Standard Time, and it was a major setback: the Court reversed a 2009 lower court judgment and restored the ban on homosexuality.

The ruling came as a shock to me and many others. Twitter and my Facebook news feed blew up. In a year of historic LGBT rights' victories not only here in the United States, but also in countries in South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal, it's easy to forget just how tenuous these hard-fought victories can be.

But if it's any consolation to LGBT activists in my Indian homeland, even as western media like The New York Times say that "there is almost no chance that Parliament will act where the Supreme Court did not," if history is any judge, this is a fight that is a long, long way from being over and done with.

Here in the United States, for example, the Supreme Court ruled in 1986 in Bowers v. Hardwick that state bans on private, consensual intimacy by gay men and lesbians were constitutional. But the fight did not end there. Activists continued the long, hard slog of pushing state legislatures to repeal their sodomy laws, but it took seven years before these efforts first saw any success. And finally, in 2003, the Supreme Court reversed its decision in Bowers and ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that the Constitution protects the right of gay people to form intimate relationships and retain their dignity as free persons. With unimaginable speed, this landmark Lawrence decision paved the way for marriage victories in the courts and in state legislatures that the ACLU has celebrated and been a part of in recent years.

So no, of course Indian LGBT activists should not give up, and I know they won't. Even though this setback may seem insurmountable today, we stand in solidarity with them as they re-group and continue the fight for equality tomorrow.