Pride Month 2024: 'Politicians Must Prioritise Inclusion And Equality For LGBTQIA+ Individuals'

Pride Month 2024: 'Politicians Must Prioritise Inclusion And Equality For LGBTQIA+ Individuals'

The silence of political parties on these matters reflects a broader societal apathy towards the queer community in India

Renu Naidu Pooja BaghelUpdated: Saturday, June 08, 2024, 12:46 PM IST
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Pride Month 2024: 'Politicians Must Prioritise Inclusion And Equality For LGBTQIA+ Individuals' |

Aristotle once declared speech as the essence of politics, a notion that has endured through the ages. In contemporary democratic thought, whether in deliberative democracy or participatory politics, the focus on voice, speech, and discourse remains central. Yet, the true meaning of speech emerges through its interplay with silence; what is left unsaid can be just as significant. Silence, in some contexts, can convey more than words, often indicating apathy and deceit in political discourse.

As the 2024 Lok Sabha election, billed as the greatest democratic exercise in human history, unfolded, the themes and narratives that emerged in this electoral discourse hold significant implications not only for Indian politics but for global society. The election debate will shape future political and social agendas, making it essential to scrutinise what political parties express and suppress in their manifestos. Examining these manifestos reveals their stance on LGBTQIA+ rights in India.

The Yogyakarta Principles of 2007 outline human rights standards related to sexual orientation and gender identity, affirming states' obligation to protect LGBTQIA+ rights. Despite the Supreme Court of India’s alignment with these principles in decriminalising homosexuality in 2018, the country has yet to fully uphold them. The election manifestos of major political parties reflect a general apathy towards these issues.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with its conservative and majoritarian outlook, largely overlooked LGBTQIA+ issues in its manifesto. While it promised to include transgender people in the Ayushman Bharat system and expand Garima Grahas for their welfare, it remained silent on broader legal rights and social acceptance for the queer community, highlighting the party’s regressive stance.

Conversely, the Congress, through its Nyay Patra, pledged to legalise civil unions for LGBTQIA+ couples and amend the Constitution to include sexual orientation as a ground for non-discrimination. However, it stopped short of addressing marriage equality and banning conversion therapy, offering limited progress for LGBTQIA+ rights.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) supported Congress’ progressive position but did not explicitly address LGBTQIA+ issues in its manifesto. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) advocated for “gender-affirming” approaches, emphasising safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ individuals, but lacked comprehensive policies.

During the election, the debate over LGBTQIA+ rights remained largely absent. While parties like Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) proposed minor policy changes, others, like the BJP, failed to address critical issues affecting the community.

Political leaders must prioritise inclusion and equality to build a more just society. The silence of political parties on these matters reflects a broader societal apathy towards the queer community in India.

The struggle of LGBTQIA+ individuals in India is akin to "an infant crying in the night; an infant crying for the light; and with no language but a cry." Their plight demands more than a cry; it requires a resolute assertion of their natural rights. As India’s political landscape evolves, the call for LGBTQIA+ rights must be heard and acted upon, ensuring true democracy and justice for all.

(Renu Naidu is the Assistant Professor and Chairperson of the Equal Opportunity Cell, while Pooja Baghel is the Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of the Equal Opportunity Cell at Shankarrao Chavan Law College)

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