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Youngsters who support LGBT rights got together for a CT photoshoot on College Street
Is your college LGBT friendly?

in INDIA, 04/08/2012

Few institutions have LGBT support groups. CT explores the blues of the rainbow brigade on campus

About 1,500 people turned up at the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders) pride parade in Kolkata recently — many of them college students, who’d come out to support the movement — but very few colleges in the city have a support structure for students from the community.

In fact, CT went looking and found that Presidency is the only institution that has an LGBT support group, called Ardhek Akaash. Koumi Dutta, a member of the group, said, “Ardhek Akaash runs a magazine by the same name, which goes with the tagline ‘Lingo Boishamyo Birodhi Potrika’. Earlier, we only focused on women’s issues, but after the cast of “Arekti Premer Golpo” came to our campus for a seminar, we included LGBT issues. Though it started out from Presidency College, the group is trying to spread to other college campuses. People from across colleges can come and take part in our meetings as we have no specific membership criteria. For the Pinki Pramanik case, we organized interactive seminars and distributed leaflets to make people aware.” Ardhek Akaash gets a crowd of 50 or more people at all of its meetings.

 But why is it that apart from Presidency, no other college has similar support groups? “The problem with LGBT support groups is that they have rarely been linked to educational institutions. Most gay rights activists have been fighting for personal rights and for acceptance in society,” said Tirthankar Guha Thakurta, founding member of online support group SACH (Students Against Campus Homophobia), which has over 150 members. He added, “The good thing is that generally, violence of any kind is not supported in campuses. So be it teasing or ragging, teachers will take action if it reaches harassing proportions. At SACH, people come to us seeking advice on how to come out of the closet and not that of harassment.”

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