With the Supreme Court deciding to retain Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, maintaining that sexual relations between consenting gay adults as unnatural and punishable, members of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community in the city are a worried lot. To add to their worries is their apprehension whether they would still be able to avail government’s social entitlements like income generation loans, health schemes, identity cards and whether they can still mark ‘Others’ option in various government identity cards.
Currently Aadhar and Voter ID cards bear the options of ‘Transgender’ and ‘Others’ respectively. Fearing victimisation at the hands of police on the basis of such identity, the LGBT community members have been making inquiries for cancellation of their existing cards, said G Krishna, founder, Suraksha Society which works with sexual health and human rights of LGBT community.
According to him, the efforts that have been underway since 1999 to sensitise officials regarding issues faced by LGBT community would take a giant leap backwards and are worried if government officials who have been cooperating with them might turn away.
However, officials of Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) and Chief Election Office said that there will be no changes in the option. “Gender option in application form is not related to the Supreme Court’s judgment on Section 377,” said Bhanwar Lal, chief election officer.
Similarly, Chiranjeevi Chowdary, Commissioner, Women and Child Welfare department said that his department would continue providing the services for the transgender groups. Women and Child welfare department acts as a nodal agency helping female and transgender sex workers to access various government programmes and income generating schemes.
The LGBT Community’s worries extend to availing of government health schemes also. Through ‘Link Workers Scheme’ introduced by Andhra Pradesh AIDS Control Society (APSACS) among Female Sex Workers (FSW), and Men having sex with men (MSM) in 2008, officials claim to have considerably reduced prevalence of HIV among the groups.
T Kailashditya, joint director, Targeted Intervention and Link Workers Scheme, said that the department will continue providing health schemes to the community members. “The targeted intervention scheme was introduced by National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), and until we get directions from it, we will continue providing the health scheme. If we do not intervene among high risk groups, prevalence of HIV AIDS will increase,” he pointed out.
According to Akhila Sivadas, who works with marginalised communities, entitlements were a policy right for community members. “The community is expressing anxiety. The 2009 judgment has encouraged them to come out, now by striking it down they are in a predicament. Even if entitlements continue, court should still take correctives,” Akhila said.