Godrej hosts Indian LGBT Youth Leadership Summit

Preksha Malu, DNA India, 16 March 2015

Sunday saw the end of the two-day Indian LGBT youth leadership summit with a panel discussion on empowerment of the community through building alliances within and outside the community. Thirty-five individuals from across the country were chosen to be a part of the second edition of the summit, organised by MINGLE (Mission for Indian Gay and Lesbian Empowerment).

Nisa Godrej, executive director of Godrej Consumer Products, former banker and AAP leader Meera Sanyal, and Ashok Row Kawi, LGBT rights activist took part in the discussion.

Highlighting misinformation among the political class, Kavi said some Rajya Sabha members had spoken of how the Hijra community didn't need health care as clap of hands was working as acupuncture for them and that prayed a lot.

"Right here in Vikhroli there is a community where one Hijra dies every week of AIDS. Hospitals can't decide which ward to put them in. Ward boys refuse to touch them. Hijras are afraid of being raped in male wards and they are not accepted by female wards," he said.

Kavi said the first link the LGBT wing must build is with families, siblings and friends. "The LGBT movement will only come after the feminist movement and women will be our greatest allies. But here too, we need to choose which women will be our allies because Suzette Jordan was ostracised by Mamata Banerjee and a female judge who was presiding over her case." Jordan was gang-raped on Park Street in Kolkata in 2002.

Sanyal said while the Indian legal system has taken a step forward by identifying the third gender, it has become regressive by failing to decriminalise homosexuality. "Time and tide is in favour of the community and this fight will be won."

Adding a corporate dimension, Godrej said that employees should take the lead in affecting changes in company policies by bringing in a lot of value to their work. "A company can only flourish if it allows dissent, change and new ideas without discrimination."

Chosen to be a part of the summit, Ahmedabad resident Vishwa Srivastava, 28, said that he was privileged to be accepted in the society as a homosexual. "I want to use this privilege and my knowledge to help people who don't have access to such opportunities."