~ Yashika, Saakshi, Samridhi, Vanshika, Manika, Jiah & Prakriti
Around the world, people have been judged, punished for who they love, how they dress, and ultimately for who they are. In many countries, being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender queer or intersex (LGBTQI) meant living with daily discrimination. The people of this community have always had their life at stake. From bullying, oppressing, persecuting, denial of employment opportunities and basic civic amenities to life threats, they have to face prejudice and injustice every day. In today’s time, however, the circumstances have changed and the ill-treatment is reduced.
Origin and Meaning
Every year in June, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is commemorated to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion in Manhattan. The Stonewall Rebellion was a turning moment in the USA Gay Liberation. The final Sunday in June was originally designated as “Gay Pride Day” in the United States, although the exact date was not set. The “day” quickly evolved to cover a couple of weeks’ sequence of events in key cities around the country. Gay parades, lunches, groups, training, symposia, and concerts are now commonplace, and LGBTQ Gay Pride events draw millions of people from all over the world.
What is the meaning of the Pride symbol?
The rainbow flag, designed by artist Gilbert Baker in 1978, has become synonymous with Pride. But did you guys know that there are many Pride flags?
Jessica Stern, chief executive of OutRight Movement International, stated, “Pride flags are a powerful visual expression of the movement.” “And, rightfully so, there are many, mirroring the LGBTIQ community’s multiplicity of identities and the desire for everyone to be seen and recognised.”
The Pride flag was updated in 2017 to incorporate the colours brown and black in an attempt to promote equality and diversity, as well as to “respect the life of our Black and brown LGBTQ brothers,” according to a statement.
Pride Traditions for LGBTQ+ People Every Year
On the first anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, June 28, 1970, the first Pride march in New York City was staged. The Library of Congress has primary materials that describe how the first Pride march was organised and why organisers believed it was necessary. Researchers can discover planning papers, letters, flyers, memorabilia, and more from the inaugural Pride marches in 1970 in the Lili Vincenz and Frank Kameny Papers at the Library’s Manuscript Division.
The first Pride parade in New York City drew between three and five thousand people, according to all estimates, and today’s marchers’ number in the millions. Since 1970, LGBTQ+ people have gathered in June to march in support of equal rights and demonstrate equality.
EVOLUTION OF LGBTQIA+ MOVEMENT IN INDIA
The LGBTQIA+ community has been marginalised for centuries not only in India but in the entire world. Even though Indian ancient history suggests that homosexuality was an acknowledged and perhaps accepted practice at that time, we know that with the advent of British rule, things did not remain the same. However, the landmark judgment of the year 2018 came as a showering relief in the scorching heat that the LGBTQIA+ movement was standing in to fight against the centuries of oppression.
Let’s have a look at the brief history of the LGBTQIA+ movement in India:
1. CRIMINALISATION OF HOMOSEXUALITY BY THE BRITISH
In 1861, the British passed a law criminalising same-sex relationships by incorporating section 377 in the Indian Penal Code. This was modelled on the Buggery Act of British law with complete disregard to the homosexual community declaring it against the law of nature.
2. FIRST GAY RIGHTS PROTEST
The credit of providing visibility to the LGBTQIA+ community in the late 20th century in India is often given to activists of an organization named AIDS Bhedbhao Virodhi Andolan (ABVA). The first gay protest sparked off when the Delhi Police in 1992 arrested men from the famous Cannaught Place on suspicion of homosexuality. Even though nothing much happened, it is still remembered as one of the very first expressions of dissent from the community in the form of a protest.
3. FIRST PRIDE PARADE OF INDIA IN KOLKATA
In India, the first pride parade was held in Kolkata on 2nd July 1999. It is arguably the oldest pride march in entire South Asia and is famously known as Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk. Although there were only 15 participants in the march, all men, it played an extremely important role in starting the conversation about the community and helped gain visibility. It was only in 2008 that other metropolitan cities coordinated with the Kolkata Pride march and began taking out their marches in sync.
Now, Pride marches are one of the most celebrated events in these cities and have reached many other corners of the country as well.
In the next section, you can read about the legal fight that the community fought in the years that followed the first pride march and eventually succeeded.
Legal Evolution and Recognition in India
Even though homosexuality is no longer a crime, Indian laws are nevertheless hostile and discriminatory towards the LGBT community in several ways. The reason for this is that the legislative and judicial evolution of LGBT legislation in India is vastly different. In essence, same-sex couples despite having the legal right to cohabit and conduct their private affairs without fear of legal harassment, still suffer prejudice in a variety of ways. As a result, it’s critical to continue the discussion and examine the many legislation that continues to discriminate against LGBT rights.
- Naz Foundation Govt. v. NCT of Delhi, 2009
Section 377 violates Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Constitution, according to a landmark decision issued by the Delhi High Court in 2009. The court determined that IPC Section 377 does not differentiate between public and private actions, or between consensual and non-consensual acts and thus, was in direct violation of their basic fundamental rights.
- Suresh Kumar Koushal v. Naz Foundation, 2013
When the community was about to breathe a sigh of relief after an eight-year battle, the Supreme Court overruled the Delhi High Court’s decision and re-criminalized homosexuality on December 11, 2013. The silver lining was that, rather than putting an end to the LGBT movement, the Suresh Kumar Koushal V. Naz Foundation decision ignited a fresh wave of action.
- National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India, 2014
In a momentous decision, the Supreme Court granted hijras (transgender people) the status of “third gender.” This decision established the groundwork for ensuring the transgender community’s access to a broad range of basic human rights. The court recognised the distinction between the biological and gender components of sex. Transgender people can now change their gender without undergoing sex.
GLOBAL RECOGNITION OF LGBTQIA+ COMMUNITY
The global fight for LGBT rights has been a long and arduous one. Though even today in some Middle Eastern and African countries, same-sex actions can result in the death penalty but in culturally conservative countries too, popular acceptance is growing.
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, ” All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. LGBTQIA+ Rights are considered human rights. Discrimination on grounds such as sexual orientation has been condemned globally over the years. The reports by Pew Research Center and School of Williams Law discussed below state the level of acceptance and global recognition of the LGBTQIA+ community.
REPORT BY PEW RESEARCH CENTER
According to research issued by the Pew Research Center, the United States, India, South Africa, Japan, South Korea, and Mexico have seen the greatest advances in popular acceptance of LGBT rights since 2002.
The findings of Pew’s study revealed significant shifts in popular perception.
Since 2002, the following countries have seen significant gains in public acceptance of homosexuality:
- In the United States, 72 per cent now believe homosexuality should be tolerated compared to that of 46 per cent in 1994 and 51 per cent in 2002;
- In South Africa public acceptance has increased by 21 points;
- South Korea has shown an increase in public acceptance by 19 points;
- In both Japan and Mexico, just over half of people said they accepted homosexuality in 2002, today, nearly 7 out of 10 people say they do;
- Talking about India, where 37 per cent say they accept homosexuality, that degree of acceptance has increased by 22 points.
REPORT BY SCHOOL OF WILLIAMS LAW
This report revised the Global Acceptance Index(GAI) for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) individuals and issues, which aims to quantify the relative level of acceptance of LGBT people and issues in each country through time.
Since 1981, the global average degree of acceptance has risen:
- It has increased in 131 of 174 nations.
- There has been a drop in 16 countries.
- In 27 countries no change has been observed.
When it comes to the previous decade the top five most accepting countries are Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Canada and Spain. They have had the highest levels of recognition and cooperation between 2014-2017.
The lowest and decreased levels of acceptance between 2014-2017 have been witnessed in Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Senegal, Tajikistan and Somaliland.
DIFFERENT SEXUALITIES AND THEIR FLAG MEANING
1. RAINBOW ‘GAY’ PRIDE FLAG
It is the most fundamental flag out of all the listed. Paraded in 1978 and was designed by Gilbert Baker. It is assumed to be LGBTQ+ inclusive although within the community several members have flown their self designed flags to depict their own identity.
2. POC INCLUSIVE RAINBOW PRIDE FLAG
It was first established in Philadelphia in year 2017 to oppose racism in and towards queer communities, the black and the brown colour in the flag represents people of colour.
3. PROGRESS PRIDE FLAG
This flag was created by Daniel Quasar in 2018, for black, brown, transgender and people suffering or died due to AIDS. The inset arrowhead six colour strips depict the same.
4. BISEXUAL PRIDE FLAG
The purple band in the flag alike the bisexual people blends in well with pink and blue colour which justifies that just as the bisexual people merges with the gay/lesbian and straight community.
It was designed by Michael Page to create visibility in the bisexual community.
5. PANSEXUAL PRIDE FLAG
It is also termed as Omni sexual flag to depict attraction to all gender identities and biological sexes. The blue colour depicts attraction to men, pink depicts attraction to women and the yellow colour to non-binary and fluid individuals.
6. POLYSEXUAL PRIDE FLAG
The polysexual prefer the term over bisexual because it does not limit their sexual identity to attraction between only two genders or biological sexes while there are many more, they could feel attraction towards three or more sexual identities but no all which makes them differ from pansexual. The pink and blue colour in the flag depicts traditional genders while the green colour depicts those of fluid or no gender.
7. POLYAMORY PRIDE FLAG
The loving of more than one person at once with honesty and consent and is non-monogamous. The Pi symbol and its golden colour represent the emotional values and attachment to others whether the relationship is friendly or intimate/romantic. The blue colours portray openness and honesty among the multiple partners involved in the relationship. The red colour depicts love and passion and the black colour depicts the solidarity from the world due to societal pressures though the relationship is open and honest.
8. ASEXUAL PRIDE FLAG
The members of this community are often referred to as Ace, the people with a lack of sexual attraction or low interest in sexual activity. Whether by biology or psychology it is not the same as celibacy or abstinence.
The grey desires relationships with sexual activity being not the powerful component or not present at all. The black colour represents asexuality, grey the range of asexuality and purple belonging to the community.
9. TRANSGENDER PRIDE FLAG
The blue and pink colour depicts convectional colours for baby boys and girls respectively, while the white colour depicts intersex/different genders. Being symmetrical the flag shows correctness whichever way you hang it.
10. NON BINARY PRIDE FLAG
Yellow colour depicts reference to gender without relation to the gender binary, white for those for all or many genders. Purple portrays a mixture of pink for female and blue for male while black colour for those without gender.
11. GENDER FLUID PRIDE FLAG
It is for the people whose gender identity is not constant. The pink colour depicts femininity, white the lack of gender, purple the combination of male and female. Black colour portrays all genders including third genders/non-binary.
12. INTERSEX PRIDE FLAG
Purple and yellow colour depicts hermaphrodite colours and the completeness of the circle as wholeness. The intersex people are still prevailing to fight for bodily autonomy and genital integrity.
Present scenario of the transgender community in the society
Laws as per the Indian Constitution
Transgenders were lawfully allowed to cast a ballot right as a third sex in 1994. On 15 April 2014, the Supreme Court of India pronounced transsexual individuals a socially and financially smothered class qualified for reservations in training and occupations and guided association and state governments to outline government assistance plans for them. The Court decided that transsexual individuals have a basic protected right to change their sexual orientation with no kind of medical procedure, and approached the Union Government to guarantee equivalent therapy for transsexual individuals. The Court likewise decided that the Indian Constitution orders the acknowledgement of a third sexual orientation on true records and that Article 15 boycotts segregation dependent on sex personality.
On 24 April 2015, the Rajya Sabha unanimously passed the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014 guaranteeing rights and entitlements, reservations in education and jobs (2% reservation in government jobs), legal aid, pensions, unemployment allowances and skill development for transgender people.
Problems within the Society
While the country still has a long way to go to fully accept and accommodate the LGBTQIA+ rights of people. The pride parades, the Genz or the millennial generation is fully aware and supportive of the community. The majority of this comes from the urban cities and towns with discussions and debates on social media like Twitter, WhatsApp or Instagram. The voice and support educate others along with the corporate efforts. But in the deeper parts of India, it is very difficult for people to come out and find acceptance. They find it difficult to open up to families, friends fearing honour killing and non-acceptance, which is the reality there.
Along with that the stigma still prevails making them subject to discrimination, stereotypes and various day to day issues. We still have a long way to go to make them a part of society entirely. We need changes and openness in marriage laws, adoptions, representation in politics.
The Pride parade is a month of celebrating their independence. As important it is to be aware of their wants, pride month is designated for their independence more than the awareness factor. We need to spread awareness throughout the year, not just in June. The month of June is celebration month not awareness month particularly. They need emphasis throughout the year.
Problems within the community
While activists and people are raising voices and trying to make efforts to make them more inclusive, accepted and equal representation and importance in the society. There are a lot of problems within the LGBTQIA+ community as well. It is equally important that people within the community do not face discrimination.
The transgender, queer, LGBTQ+ DALIT or LOWER caste people in India face discrimination within the community. There are also cases of racism, lesbian finding it difficult than gay men in society. There have been cases where people of colour, lower caste, class or section face discrimination and subjugation by people within the LGBTQIA+ community. While the flag represents the idea of inclusiveness of colours, people who identify themselves with different colours. The recent addition of brown and black colours in the pride flag shows inclusiveness for black and brown LGBTQIA+, drew criticism from white orientation. Similarly, the Dalit LGBTQIA+ community in India needs justice and equal acceptance and importance in the LGBTQIA+ and Indian community as a whole.
While some people, influencers, artists, corporate giants use other people’s trauma, their problems, To use them, depict them in a wrong way to gain attention and attraction from a large audience. queerbaiting chips away at its crowd since it proposes the idea that strange individuals do have a fundamental spot in these accounts, that they may even be the characterizing figures, the saints. The idea—however not the truth.
It is the right of every human being to love whoever they want, spend their lives with the partner of their choice irrespective of the gender of the other partner. The problem is not gender, the problem is the mindset of the people. Love is way beyond gender, sexual orientation and sexual identity. We are nobody to judge the choices made by other people. This issue cannot be tackled just by passing laws. The celebration doesn’t have to be hampered and impeded till June itself but every day for the win of mere individuals that have a sexual preference different from the norm created by the society.