THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: “Kerala has got a firm policy document and it reflects on the LGBT spectrum. There is a holistic document pattern which works in favour of the transgender community,” said Ashok Row Kavi, chairman of the Humsafar Trust based in Mumbai.
He was speaking at the workshop organised in the city the other day wherein a talk was held on the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity and transgender population.
Ashok Row Ravi was the first gay man to publicly come out in 1984. He had also approached the Supreme Court of India, along with three other gay men and The Humsafar Trust, to decriminalise same-sex relations.
Ashok said the main idea to set up the Humsafar Trust was to empower LGBTIQ communities to overcome the stigmatisation resulting from law. The Humsafar Trust is the oldest LGQT sector in India and he says, “Biggest achievement of us is that we are alive.”
This LGBT rights activist has worked for the rights of more than 1,000 gay men and 1,500 transgenders in Mumbai. They are planning to conduct a sensitisation workshop with the panchayat members and talk about LGBT rights so that the laws come to a ground reality.
Speaking about the stigma that exists about the sexual minorities, he said that in metro cities some changes have been seen where transgenders have been given a space in the society but in rural areas, a change has to be made. “So, our focus now is on rural areas,” he adds.
Ashok is constantly fighting against Section 377 which criminalises sexual activities against the order of nature. There are no size estimates to check who all are harassed or at risk. Ashok says, “We are collecting evidence based on proper data so that the whole community can work on this and nobody raises voice against the credibility of the data.”
Besides working for the mainstreamed LGBT issues, Ashok is also a professor in the Nasik Police Academy, Mumbai where he teaches the new recruits about LGBT rights and laws as they are the gatekeepers of the society and should know about the issue.
On May 20, he will be addressing 1,800 members of the Indian Medical Association in Mumbai on the topic ‘Equal but different’ on why doctors should be sensitive about LGBT issues. They should understand that the attitude to sexuality should not only be pathological but has to be viewed from the socio-development side and all spectrum.
He says: “When Kochi Metro recruited transgenders it was a good step but they didn’t give them housing so they stayed outside the city. When policies are brought in one must know these condition. Community-based organisations are needed.”