India's Lower House Passed A Bill Blocking Same-Sex Couples From Surrogacy

The fight for LGBTQ rights continues in India.

India saw a major change in its law and culture this year. The country’s Supreme Court decided that the colonial era Section 377 in the penal code was unconstitutional. This thus legalized gay sex in the Asian country.

But just legalizing gay sex, and thus openly gay people/relationships, doesn’t give them any protections from anti-gay laws. This is a fact that has just been proven.

According to the Tribune, India’s lawmakers in the Lok Sabha passed a bill banning gay couples from becoming parents through surrogacy.

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 was passed earlier this week. The bill makes it so that only infertile couples who have been married for five years or more can seek surrogacy. As same-sex marriage is not legal in India, gay couples are out of luck. In addition, anyone who is found to violate this law will receive a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh (approximately $14,277).

The bill was drafted in 2016 by a group of Ministers run by Sushama Swaraj, the Minister of External Affairs.

“Surrogacy cannot be a fashion, hobby or a pleasure for actors who don’t want their wives to undergo labour or who already have biological children,
 said Swaraj. "Surrogacy must have a purpose. This Bill is in line with the Indian ethos.”

It was then Health Minister JP Nadda who introduced this bill to the lower parliamentary house, and Lok Sabha lawmakers debated for an hour before passing it.

The bill is set to discourage surrogacy and ensure that adoption is the choice for childless couples. India’s government says that there are about 20 million orphans and abandoned children in the country. Swaraj’s argument is that the bill was created with them in mind.

That said, many are critiquing the bill for excluding same-sex couples and single women.

“The focus on heteronormative couples discriminates against single people, same-sex couples. This, in spite of the recent Supreme Court judgement,” said global health and bioethics researcher Anant Bhan to News 18.

Queer India writer Harish Iyer also added:

“If the sole intention had been protecting the rights of surrogate mothers and to steer against making wombs-on-rent a norm, there would have been a plan to rehabilitate and integrate surrogate moms into our societal framework.

“There is no plan whatsoever in this direction. Instead, we get a bill that almost brings surrogacy to a standstill.

“If surrogacy is out of bounds for queer persons, has the government strengthened its policy for adoption by queer persons? The answer is a loud ‘no’. There are enough studies in the West that prove that queer persons make good parents, not as good as but better than heterosexual persons.”

h/t: Tribune, News 18, GayTimes

India's Citizens Rejoice At First Dehli Pride Since The Historic Supreme Court Ruling

LGBTQ residents and allies celebrated the decriminalization of homosexuality in India earlier today.

Just two months after India’s Supreme Court ruled that the colonial era law Section 377 was unconstitutional, the city of Dehli was graced with a joyous pride parade.

Thousands participated in India's first pride parade since that historic court ruling (though the 11th in history). Many marchers chanted “We Got Our Freedom” while waving rainbow flags or signs with messages like, “Love Wins.”

"It's the first time we are not marching as criminals," said parade organizer Deepti to AFP.

"People are marching with freedom and zero burden," she added.

Now with India joining 119 other countries who have all legalized homosexuality, parade participants are noticeably walking with a spring in their step.



A post shared by Sakshi Srivastav (@awkwardcasualty) on

"This parade is about happiness, happiness and happiness," said participant Deepanshu Goswami to AFP.

"It will take one more generation for a social acceptance but the fear factor is gone. I'm enjoying my life as a free citizen now," he added.

Check out some photos from the event down below.



A post shared by LittleMsMonica (@littlemsmonica44) on



A post shared by Spoilt Modern Indian Woman (@spoiltmodernwoman) on



A post shared by Zee Hindustan (@zee_hindustan) on



A post shared by Dimple Chaudhary (@dimpleg1116) on



A post shared by ReformTheNorm (@reformthenorm_) on



A post shared by KARTIK (@taureankartik) on



A post shared by Kanav Sahgal (@kanav.sahgal) on



A post shared by Urnav Vishwas (@urnavishwas) on



A post shared by Diksha Goel (@theyellowjacket_) on



A post shared by The Feminist Collective (@the_feminist_collective) on



A post shared by jombie (@jombiejom) on



A post shared by (@bryms) on



A post shared by Christopher Gonsalves (@toxichris1986) on



A post shared by Quint Neon (@quintneon) on



Delhi Queer Pride 2018 #delhiqueerpride #delhipride #freedomtolove #human #loveisnotacrime #pride #freedom

A post shared by Rimlina Hazarika (@rimlina_hazarika) on

"Elevator Pitch" Releases First Ever All-Male Reality Dating Show Episode On Indian TV

Just a few months after the country legalized gay sex, Indian tv has aired its first gay dating tv episode.

Back in September, India’s Supreme Court ruled that their British colonial law Section 377, which punished “carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” was unconstitutional.

Not only have Indian citizens been instantly changed by this court ruling, but so too has Indian entertainment.  In fact, now gay romance has finally been played on national television.

MTV India’s reality dating show Elevator Pitch recently released a beautiful video that spotlighted gay love.

In the video, 10 men tried to impressed one man, stylist and blogger Atmaj Vyas, in a situation much like speed dating. Each boy only gets a few floors worth of conversation in the elevator before they have to get off and lose out on (televised) love.

One contestant named Rahul Bharti even used the episode as the chance to come out as gay.

“It wasn’t easy,” Bharti told the Indian Express. “I still can’t believe I came out on national television.”

“It took time for my family to process everything but I know they will be fine. I am thankful to the show for giving me the platform,” he added.

This is just the latest of changes that have happened in India since the historic Supreme Court ruling. This MTV India episode comes out two months after initially banned gay film Ka Bodyscapes was freed of its censorship and started plans to play in limited theaters across the country.

India's Censorship Organization Reverses Ban On Gay Film "Ka Bodyscapes"

Now that homosexuality is legal in the country of India, citizens will start to have better access to LGBTQ films.

In fact, citizens may realize that access to LGBTQ films has already gotten better.

The film Ka Bodyscapes depicts the relationship between a painter, named Haris, an athlete named Vishbu, and a feminist activist named Sia. The story follows the couple, and their friend, as they struggle to find peace in their conservative home.

“In a nutshell, it deals with the struggles of Kerala’s youth to find a space for themselves and for individual freedom,” said writer/director Jayan Cherian according to The Hindu.

“It’s heartening and significant that it’s reaching cinemas when the apex court has struck down the portion of the law that criminalised homosexual relations,” he then added.

Despite being well received by critics and fans of LGBTQ films across the globe, the film caused controversy for it's depiction of Hinduism. In addition, the movie was banned by the Central Board of Film Certification (or the CBFC) for “glorifying homosexuality.”

This is the same censorship board that banned Love, Simon from playing in India because of it's focus on gay romance.

This ruling came before the now famous ruling by India’s Supreme Court that decriminalized gay sex. Now with that ruling a month behind us, the CBFC’s decision has be overruled and Ka Bodyscapes can be distributed in the country.

The film officially premiered in the southern state of Kerala yesterday (October 5), and Cherian plans to distribute the film all over the country.

“An artist’s only weapon of resistance is his/her art practice. We need to tell the world that we are alive and refuse to be cowed down.”

h/t: The Hindu

India’s Landmark Supreme Court Decision that Criminalizing Consensual Same-Sex Conduct is Unconstitutional

(London, September 6, 2018) – India’s landmark Supreme Court decision that criminalizing consensual same-sex conduct is unconstitutional is a major victory for human rights and the LGBT people’s rights to privacy and non-discrimination in the world’s second most populous country, Human Rights Watch said today.

The decision on September 6, 2018 strikes down language in Section 377 of India’s penal code, a relic of British colonial rule that punishes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” with 10 years to life in prison.

“The Supreme Court decision means that at long last same-sex relations are no longer a criminal offense in India,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The court has affirmed that no one should be discriminated against for whom they love or what they do in the privacy of their bedroom.”



The judges unanimously ruled that consensual same sex relationships are no longer a crime, deeming Section 377 “irrational, arbitrary and incomprehensible.”

The court’s ruling affirmed that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in India are entitled to the full protection of both India’s constitution and international human rights law, and that laws that treat people as second-class citizens based on their real or perceived sexual orientation have no place in modern India.

The ruling follows a long struggle for the decriminalization of same-sex conduct in India. In 2001, the Naz Foundation (India) Trust, an organization working on HIV/AIDS and sexual health, filed a case before the Delhi High Court, contending that Section 377 violated both the Indian constitution and international human rights law, and that it impeded the organization’s public health outreach. In 2009, the court issued a ruling in support of the petitioners.

But the Supreme Court overturned that decision in 2013, ruling that amending the law was the responsibility of the legislature.  The reversal had devastating consequences for LGBT Indians who had come out as a result of the 2009 ruling. While it led to only a few documented arrests, LGBT people in India continued to suffer widespread discrimination, sanctioned by a discriminatory law. They remained vulnerable to violence and extortion, including by the police.

Activists in India filed new petitions asking the Supreme Court to review its ruling. In 2016, the court, after initially refusing to hear the review petitions, admitted the curative petitions reviving the legal battle for the repeal of the law. The petitions were referred to a five-judge Constitution Bench for detailed hearing. In January 2018, after issuing important rights-affirming rulings on privacy and on transgender equality, the court announced that it would revisit the case. In July, a five-judge bench began hearings that included new petitions filed by LGBT people.

The ruling also has significance internationally, Human Rights Watch said. Section 377 of India’s penal code, first implemented in 1860, served as a template for similar laws throughout much of the former British empire. Colonial governors elsewhere in Asia and Africa used the language of Section 377 in dozens of statutes criminalizing so-called “unnatural offenses” – generally understood to mean anal sex, or sodomy – while in the Caribbean, the British used different language, imposing laws against “buggery.”

Over 70 countries, including many in the Commonwealth, still criminalize consensual same-sex relations. Kenya and Botswana, both of which inherited versions of the Indian penal code during the colonial period, currently have cases pending before their courts that would also strike down laws outlawing consensual same-sex conduct.  Other countries in which courts have struck down sodomy laws in recent years include Trinidad and Tobago (2018), and Belize (2015).

The decriminalization of same-sex conduct will not immediately result in full equality for LGBT people in India, Human Rights Watch said. Transgender people in particular, including hijra communities, face discrimination in employment, housing, and health care. A draft law on transgender persons, introduced in 2016, does not go far enough in protecting trans people’s rights to legal recognition according to their gender identity.

“Striking down Section 377 is a momentous step that will resonate around the world in communities that are fighting for equality,” Ganguly said. “But like other countries, India has significant work to do to ensure that the rights of people who have been long marginalized on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity are fully protected.”



Content shared with Instinct Magazine for immediate release by HRW.org

A Gay Frenchman Was Knocked Unconscious, Burned, And Chopped Into Pieces

A Frenchman was found dead in India, and a young gay man was charged for the murder.

68-year-old Pierre Bernard Robert Rene’s remains were found charred and split up between several sandbags.

The police had been looking for Pierre after his suitcase, with his passport, his ATM cards, and a diary inside, was found abandoned.

It was the diary that pointed police in the direction of Thirumurugan.

Pierre was in India as a vacation and allegedly met up with 29-year-old student C. Thirumurugan, according to The Hindu. Pierre came to Tiruchi, India on August 3 and stayed at a lodge. It was there that he got picked up by Thirumurugan.

Allegedly, the two men traveled to another town and drank alcohol before engaging in sex. Afterwards, the two got into an arguments and the 29-year-old knocked his companion unconscious.

"The student got frustrated and hit him on the head with a wooden stick and he (the tourist) collapsed," said senior police officer Senthil Kumar to AFP.

Police say that Thirumurugan then panicked while thinking he killed the tourist and decided to hide the body. He did so by covering it with petrol and burning it. The charred remains were then split up and stuffed into three different sand bags, which were then dumped by the road.

Unfortunately for Thirumurugan, the police quickly caught onto him and he was arrested. He then confessed to his crimes while in custody.

h/t: The Hindu, Channel New Asia/AFP

Indian Actor Manoj Bajpayee Says Bollywood Needs More LGBTQ Characters

Indian actor Manoj Bajpayee says there needs to be more LGBTQ representation in gay films.

Bajpayee was recently in London to participate in the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival (or LIFF), which encompassed three LGBTQ-inclusive films this year titled “Venus,” “My Son is Gay,” and “Bird of Dusk.”

In an interview with Reuters, Bajpayee stated that he thinks its time that Bollywood become more inclusive of LGBTQ characters.

“There is not enough portrayal or enough films on LGBT rights or LGBT issues in our industry,” he said.

“Earlier these topics were ignored or shoved under the carpet,” he the added.

Right now, LGBTQ representation in Indian entertainment is poor at best. Not only do original films lack representation, but imported films often struggle as well.

Earlier this month, Love, Simon was scheduled to air in India, but the Central Board of Film Certification banned the film because of its gay content.

The situation is much the same in India's politics.

Currently, gay sex is illegal in the country. In 2009, the act was decriminalized, but then it was made illegal again in 2013.

While that law is not rarely enforced, it has created a toxic stigma towards LGBTQ people and life.

Despite the country’s top court gearing up to possibly decriminalize gay sex again this coming July, many LGBTQ advocates face anti-gay treatment, harassment, and threats.

Bajpayee says there should not only be LGBTQ representation on movie screens, but also equal treatment in public law.

“(It) is a sign of a healthy society if each and every citizen of our country is given the rights to live and live in the manner they want to live.”

Again, India’s top court will be making the decision in July. If gay sex is decriminalized again, maybe LGBTQ characters will begin to pop up in Bollywood in the following years.

Homosexuality Declassified as a Mental Illness by Indian Psychiatric Society

Just in time for Pride Month, the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) declassified homosexuality as a mental illness last week.

The IPS was founded in 1929 and has about 3,000 members today. This is the first time the organization has publicly addressed the matter.

IPS president Dr. Ajit Bhide said:

“Certain people are not cut out to be heterosexual and we don’t need to castigate them, we don’t need to punish them, to ostracize them.


IPS chairperson Dr. Kersi Chavda stated:

“This statement is our official stand on homosexuality, that it is not a disease and should not be treated like one. This is the first time we have released an official stand.”

This is a small victory, though. Homosexuality is still illegal in India under Section 377, and conversion therapy is still common. India's Supreme Court is currently reviewing Section 377, and is expected to declare whether or not to uphold it by October. 

The law, which describes anal sex as an “unnatural offense” has stood since 1862 as a direct result of British colonization. The law was modeled from the British Empire’s buggery law. Britain decriminalized homosexual acts in 1967.

Breaking the long-standing Indian law can result in a 10-year prison sentence, an equivalent punishment to rape. It’s worth noting that oral sex, even between a man and a woman, is prohibited under the law.

Also, as we reported earlier this week, India’s Central Board of Film Certification has outright banned critical darling Love, Simon because it features a gay lead character.

Source: https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/stop-treating-homosexuality-as-an-illness-says-indian-psychiatric-society/story-EqoFV1KjFE0mxAxOimX8oN.html


India's Censorship Organization Banned The Gay Film "Love, Simon"

Indian movie goers are upset after the country “indefinitely” delayed the release of gay film Love, Simon.

While most of the world has already seen Love, Simon and is awaiting the DVD release of the film, Indian LGBTQ people and movie goers were excited to see the film at the start of this month.

Unfortunately, that never came to fruition as the Central Board of Film Certification (or the CBFC) banned the film because of its gay content.

This announcement incited an online outcry for the unbanning of the film. The hashtags #ReleaseLoveSimoninIndia and #LoveSimon quickly took over India’s twitter feed.

As GayStarnews reports, some people have created online petitions to stop the ban.

One such petition found on Change.org states:

“India has lacked a mainstream powerful representation of its LGBT+ citizens for a long time. Although not Bollywood, this film could… also educate parents about what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual etc.”

“This film could have a tremendous impact on the country’s perception of what it means to be a part of the LGBT+ community.”

“This movie can be a medium to create awareness and can be a progressive step in eliminating the stigma that surrounds the LGBT+ community.”

Not only is gay content not allowed in films shown in India, but gay sex is illegal in the country as well. In India, gay sex is criminalized under Section 377 of the Penal Code. The section states that sexual acts “against the order of nature” is prohibited.

That said, India’s Supreme Court is set to possibly change this section and legalize gay sex in an upcoming court case in July. We’ll see which way they decide to rule on.

This Nation's Registered Transgender Voter Population Just Doubled, But Still So Small In Relation To The Real Numbers.

When an entire demographic category of voters doubles in size, the first thought leads to corruption and scandal.  But in this case, the thought is that there should be even more.

The nation is India and the demographic in question is the transgender voting population.

According to data available with the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), transgender voter registration has doubled from the previous Assembly elections and 4,552 have registered this year in the State. But is this a good representation of the community?  India's transgender community numbers 4.8 million, according to data from the latest round of the census.

Among the first-time voters is a senior citizen from the community, Jagadamba, 65. She was disowned by her family at the age of 14 and she went to Mumbai where she was forced to beg and engage in sex work to eke out a living.

“I didn’t want to do it anymore. I came back home but my family refused to accept me. I have been living with my community members in Bengaluru. Last month, I was told about voter registration and I finally got my card. I had no idea about the process of voting, before this,” she said. - thehindu.com

How many of us register to vote and don't follow through?  A great amount of us for one reason or another.  But if you are transgender, showing up on voting day may involve more than our simple excuses.  These could range from ridicule and discrimination, name calling, and physical threats.

But then as we know, not everyone that is transgender will register as a transgender voter.  Some have most likely registered as male or female, not wanting to draw attention to being different or becoming a statistic or being discriminated against.

There is also the fact that before you register as a transgender voter, you will have to have the correct paperwork stating that you are transgender and that may be just too many steps out into the spotlight for some people to take.

But it is important for the Indian transgender community to have voters take part in the process.  Stand and be counted!  If you are not counted, then no one will know you are there.

Bravo for India and its doubling the number of transgender voters.  But with a population of 1.3 billion, a transgender population of possibly 4.8 million and now just over 4,500 registered transgender voters, there is still a long way to go.  But we in the West may be looking for pointers soon.

Next time you look at any forms, consider looking to see the variety of options.

We still live in a very binary world. 

Many forms and policies still only deal with (cis) male or (cis) female.

Have you filled out any forms recently or even in your lifetime that have the word transgender on it?  or even "other"? 

Or more than the male or female options for gender identification?

h/t:  thehindu.com