From Acceptance to Aspiration – Tracing the journey of LGBTQ+ Community in India

Written by Anju Rakesh & Athira Premarajan

The history of the LGBTQIA+ exclusion practice officially dates back to 1861 in India when the British Raj adopted the Buggary Act of 1533 to its legal systems, terming homosexuality an offense. Nearly two centuries later, the world saw the sparks of revolution in the new millennium, confirming and acknowledging the existence of a pride community around the world. The historic moment in India for the LGBTQIA+ community was witnessed in the year 2018 when Section 377 was written down by the Supreme Court of India, decriminalizing homosexuality. As a reaffirmation of human rights, the country celebrated the first open pride event, echoing the moment of justice served right!

The verdict sparked waves of change in society, where organizations at large, joined hands in welcoming the formerly marginalized group, from offering employment opportunities to providing financial assistance for gender reassignment surgery. As an organization striving towards the inclusion of diversity talent in the workforce, Avtar, the pioneer DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) solutions firm also established its solidarity, welcoming the pride group. In alignment with its advocacy aims, Avtar recently studied the journey of the LGBTQ+ community, tracing the experiential continuum of identity and aspirations of the community. The research study explored the three stages along the continuum: Awareness, Acceptance, and Aspirations, through a controlled group qualitative study conducted on 31 participants from the community.

The study conducted in partnership with an LGBTQ+ Community Network helped derive the following constructive results, that could be leveraged to improve the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community and bring them to the mainstream. The study majorly shines a light on the perceptions of the members that traces the pertinent areas that need improvement, on a societal front as well as from an individual perspective. Here are the results derived on the various parameters explored:

The majority is extremely proud of their identity, as 84% of respondents said they felt proud coming out of the closet (Identifying and revealing one’s gender preference). This is heartening progress observed in a country like India, which welcomed the inclusion of the community a little later than its global counterparts. Joining in this pride journey, what is the need of the hour is the formulation of an ecosystem that could enable greater inclusion and acceptance.  The calls to action identified in the study are Familial Support, Institutional Support, and Organizational Support – clearly reiterating the role of the entire social fabric in creating significant attitudinal shifts in favour of the community.  Let’s join our hands in solidarity towards providing members of the LGBTQ+ community, the much-needed support!

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