A Memorial Meeting

In a country whose civilisation goes back a long way and which today is open to science and progress, there yet exist groups of people, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, in short sexual minorities who are yet to find their place in the national mainstream, who are not acknowledged for what they are, not granted respect and are instead subject to ever greater oppression. On account of their sexual orientation and ambiguities with regard to sexual identity, sexual minorities face particular kinds of problems, and on this account have come together these past 20 years to demand recognition of their rights and their humanity - both from state and society. It is because of their incessant struggles that today our society has learned to display a certain minimum regard towards sexual minorities. In spite of not getting the attention, recognition and attention that they deserve, individuals amongst the sexual minorities have made their mark, singly, and here and there, in the fields of art, media, literature and the Information technology sectors. Yet even those who have managed to do so have to reckon with families that are indifferent towards them, with social disrespect and the absence of safe spaces. Thus many amongst the sexual minorities continue to experience shame and are yet searching for a home of their own, being refugees in their own country. It does not seem right that an Indian citizen who is of the sexual minority cannot find a location within the public sphere, that citizenship does not bring such a person any social advantages.To challenge this state of affairs, in June 2003, LGBT groups took out a Pride March, the Rainbow Coalition March in Kolkatha. In Tamil Nadu, the first LGBT pride march was held in 2009, and since then we have had a march in the month of June every year, in which individuals as well as NGOs participate. This year, Kattiyakkari, the theatre group has decided to observe Pride by holding a memorial service for those who have laid their lives down for the cause of the sexual minorities. Today, it is possible for transgenders, especially those who see themselves as female to align with others like themselves and start a new life. But for a transgender person who views himself to be male, it is not easy to do so – in fact the chances of such a person leaving home alive are almost nil. And for those that do, there exists very little, by way of opportunity or space to remake their lives. For transgenders who identify themselves female, there does exist a context, however undesirable, to earn their livelihood, either through sex work or through ‘going to the shops’ and asking for money. For transgenders who identify male, such contexts do not exist, and there are no support groups for them, as there exist for transgenders who identify female. When a person who is seen as female starts identifying as a male, the problems and dangers she experiences in her family defy language and description. She is forced to behave ‘as a girl’, observe propriety, be obedient and of course when she grows into adulthood, she has to await with dread, the prospect of marriage. For a transgender who identifies male, he cannot imagine what it is, to marry a man or be obedient to him. It is then that he has to express his sexual choices. Often this ends up in him being killed – a crime of honour, no less. Thus, many transgenders who identify male and women who love women are killed, commit suicide, losing thereby their right to life and ‘live’ amidst us as the forgotten and overlooked dead. Since 1860 when a law that criminalised same sex love was passed, many who loved those of their own sex have been affected, both in law as well outside of it. It is important to remember that in 1987 Leela and Urmila, two women who had got married forfeited their jobs in the police force – they were forced to resign. Even today there is no answer to the question that the poet Inquilob asked: ‘in whose laws will my love fit?’In June 2000 a magazine from Sri Lanka carried an article that argued it was right to subject women who loved women to violence. Several other magazine writers appeared to agree with this. Those who follow the Tamil press in Sri Lanka are bound to know its views on women who love women. In this society, where religion holds sway, the love life of sexual minorities continues to be attacked and bruised. There are many transgenders who identify male and women who love women that have been driven to suicide on account of the hurt they endured at the hands of parents or female lovers who are in denial and have left them. As far as trangenders who identify female are concerned, they have to deal with lovers who take advantage of their financial status and are not true to them. They too suffer when their lovers desert them, and are driven to suicide. They feel abandoned when the love they had trusted deserts them and on account of this foolhardy emotion kill themselves. In the Indian context, society, the police and law, all of them and together, directly and indirectly are responsible for the deaths that occur amongst sexual minorities. Families that do not accept transgenders who identify female fight to take possession of the dead and insist on carrying out funeral rights as if it were a son that was dead. The ultimate violence that is done to a transgender who identifies female is to stick a penis made of mud on to her body before it is cremated. A transgender who identifies female risks losing the support of family and society, risks being accepted by them because she has decided she cannot live has a man, or perform the role of a man and choses to sculpt herself into a female being, and to thus stick a penis on to her when she is dead is terrible violence and one wonders when such a thing shall cease to be. Kattiyakari will hold a memorial meeting in honour of our late comrade Maria who was murdered in Kerala by anti-socials and to commemorate the memory of several others who have died in police custody, at the hands of anti-socials and because their parents have refued to understand them. We call upon you to participate in this event and offer your support. Let us unite as human beings, let us stand as an example of humanity. Thank you. Contact: Kattiyakari 90940 31188 (Srijith), 99944 36973 (Smiley).

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Unknown said...

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