LGBTQIA has become a globally accepted community for minorities based on their sexual and gender orientation. LGBT people, as people of a social minority group, are suffering from various forms of societal injustice. The lack of social acceptance influences the ability of LGBT people to fully access and enjoy their rights as citizens. They are more likely to experience harassment, discrimination, intolerance, and life-threatening assault from people who do not accept their sexual orientation. This is due to homophobia (the fear or hatred of homosexuality). Heterosexuality should no longer be assumed; this assumption is called heterosexism. Although many societies have made significant strides in human rights advocacy, LGBT rights struggle to find universal acceptance. The Universal Declaration for Human Rights, drafted in 1948, does not explicitly include sexual orientation, which allows some people to consider LGBT rights debatable. Here are some of the challenges for equality that are still being fought across the country.
Some battles can’t be won in the courtroom, though they can certainly be helped along by judicial decisions and laws crafted and passed to ensure equality. But outside of the Indian legal system, LGBTQ Indians still face discrimination, fear, and hate that result in physical, mental, and emotional harm. About 40% of homeless youth in India identify as LGBTQ and often end up on the streets because they are rejected by their family members. There, young gay, lesbian, bi, and trans kids are more likely to face violence, end up in danger or participate in the crime, and encounter trauma that can affect their entire lives. A stunning 41% of trans adults have reported attempting suicide, followed by 10% to 20% of LGB adults.
In most places, gay and trans individuals can be fired from their job based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. That means that regardless of job performance or ability, a person can lose their job if their boss finds out about and disagrees with their identity. The lack of protection forces individuals to remain in the closet, guarding the secrets of who they are, to earn a living.
Hate crimes against LGBTQ individuals are still shockingly prevalent across the country. In 2015, nearly one in five hate crimes committed in India was due to sexual orientation, and another 2% of crimes were committed because of gender identity.
There has been an epidemic of violent crime against transgender individuals, particularly trans women of color, in recent years, including many who have been killed. Trans women of color are among the most vulnerable minorities in the country, fighting against racism, sexism, transphobia, and, frequently, poverty, putting them at higher risk for violence.
Bathrooms, Schools, & Other Public Accommodations
The fight over public school bathrooms has become a flashpoint—and a symbol—for the LGBTQ rights movement in recent years. At the heart of the issue is the right of all Indians to public accommodations—that is, safe access to goods, services, facilities, and privileges in the public sphere.
The battle being fought over bathrooms is about whether trans and gay individuals have a right to use all of the facilities the rest of the Indians use in a way that accommodates their needs. For trans kids in school, that means being able to use the bathroom that suits their gender identity—not the gender on their birth certificate, or the gender that the school thinks they are.
When LGBTQ people can be fired from their jobs because of their identities, earning a living and supporting a decent life can be difficult; that problem is compounded when LGBTQ people can also legally be denied housing based on their identities. But across India, that is the reality for many gay and trans citizens.
By Kuntala Sarkar