September 16, 2020
Everything from relationship counselling to legal aid,
help is now just a click away for members of
the Indian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
An online database of queer-friendly service providers was launched at American Center, which is celebrating Pride Month, on Thursday. The database covers 15 states and 30 cities and is primarily a collection of service providers who provide health and legal aid.
The project is a collaboration between Varta Trust, which promotes dialogue on gender and sexuality, SAATHII, an NGO that works with HIV patients and American gay dating app Grindr.
Pawan Dhall of Varta says, “All over the world, LGBT community members are connecting over digital media. The database could not have come at a better time,”
Presently the database includes 50 service providers, broadly classified as:
- Sexual & mental health service providers and legal aid providers.
- Sexual health has sub-categories such as HIV testing, treatment centers and gender transition procedures.
- Mental health has sub-categories such as gender or sexuality disclosure and relationship issues.
- Legal aid section includes pointers to information on legal rights of queer people and dealing with sexual assault.
- Contact details, qualifications, consultation mode and charges – about the service providers.
The best part about the helpline is the safety and anonymity it provides. Says Dhall, “There is no threat to the users’ privacy as one does not need to log in or provide any personal information other than the city, state and requirement.”
The main issue that drives community members to anxiety, self-doubt and acute depression pertains to dilemmas on ‘coming out’, pressure for a heterosexual marriage and constant hazing by acquaintances.
Trans-genders in India are the worst affected as most come from socio-economically weak backgrounds or are children who have been abandoned by their biological parents at birth. They are the ones who face lifelong persecution as most of them aren’t even privy to formal education and spend their lives begging or as sex workers. Most often, they are raped by the police itself and have no knowledge of their rights and how to go about seeking legal recourse.
Kaushik Gupta, a practicing lawyer, sexual rights activist and an #LGBTAlly, stressed the need to address everyday issues as well, that are faced by community members such as the possibility of two homosexual partners having a joint bank account, wishing to rent an accommodation or adopting a child.
He sagely advises, “Ignorance of law is no more an excuse and LGBT members should start claiming their rights from the state.”
There have been many NGOs and organisations working for similar causes in India for years together now. So, it’s wonderful to see them come onto a common platform now and be accessible to anyone who needs them, literally at the click of a button.
Here, you can find details of various helplines, enumerated by FSOG, in all major cities across India.
The organization MINGLE (Mission for Indian Gay & Lesbian Empowerment) is a non-profit think-tank consisting of academicians, professionals and students from fields as diverse as Arts & Humanities, Science, Journalism, Law, Medicine, Management and Engineering. Its vision is a truly liberal and pluralistic India where all citizens enjoy their fundamental right to lead a secure and dignified life irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Over the last four years of existence, MINGLE has partnered with Community organisations, Businesses and Universities across India, acting as a catalyst for positive change for LGBT Indians and their families and friends.
You can find them here.
Written by:- Delshad Master