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A Political Turn

in INDIA, 27/02/2013

The political scene in India is heating up day-by-day. Not only are the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 nearing up, but the elections of various states are also scheduled for December. Political parties are trying to gain new allies, forge new alliances and woo as many voters as they can. Not just the existing political parties, but people with political aspirations have also jumped in.

Many of the leading gay rights activists of India agree that the time has come for the LGBT movement to start asserting itself politically. Pawan Dhall, gay rights activist from Kolkata and a pioneer of the first gay pride parade of India, feels the gay rights movement has already turned political in a way. “The moment you actually start looking at something from a rights angle and talk about it as a human rights issue, you are politicizing the issue,” he says.

Manohar Elavarthi, founder of Sangma- a human rights organization working  with sexual minorities, sex workers and people living with HIV in India, goes a step further and says that in a democracy, every movement must turn political if it aspires to bring some real change. “When you are talking about democracy, the power is in the hands of the parliament/assembly, and there is no question of staying out. Staying out basically means you will have no space in decision making,” he points out.

But in a country like India, where sex is still discussed in hushed tones and sex-education is shelved under the carpet, would political parties be willing to even listen to issues related tosexual orientation and gay rights? Or should members of the community form their own political party to raise their demands, and will such a party be able to make any difference? Rose Venkatesan, the famous transgender TV host from Chennai, feels that a separate political party for LGBTs is the answer and has already floated her own party named Sexual liberation Party that will be working towards sexual freedom and the rights of women and LGBT people. However, others have a different opinion on how best can political support be won for gay rights.

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