It is one thing to tell someone to take a bold and courageous step towards the right direction, and a completely different thing to actually be able to do that in reality.
Given the ever increasing LGBT community and all the awareness around about treating them equal, one would expect that the whole process of coming out of the closet and being accepted by the society has become much easier. Unfortunately, no.
Myths and misconceptions still prevail, hatred and resentment are yet to disappear and most importantly, a generic sense of the LGBT community being a taboo is still relevant to an uncomfortable extent.
So no matter how strong or brave a person is, it is always difficult to be different in this world – be it in any respect; and God forbid (though He shouldn’t really) if you are a lesbian, gay or transgender or anything that the ‘people’ don’t like to believe.
But light may not always be only at the very end of the tunnel; there can be some along the path too. In the last few years India, along with the rest of the world has seen the rise of LGBT people as a community deserving of equal rights. This refreshing and liberating, yet gradual change of thought and expression has been accompanied by several events and programs like pride walks, film festivals, workshops, relevant books and movies and especially a number of NGOs came forward with the sole objective of the betterment of this community.
Here are 5 NGOs in India that works for the cause of the LGBT community and related issues.
- NAZ FOUNDATION, DELHI
Naz Foundation Trust is a Delhi-based NGO, established in 1994 with an objective of serving various groups and communities and help the society fight the issues related to the disease HIV/AIDS. They worked towards spreading awareness, removing stigma, eradication of false beliefs and fighting the discrimination against the affected. They are also one of the front-runners in the battle against IPC Section 377. It is a PIL file by the Naz Foundation that led to the historic ruling of the law reversal and decriminalising LGBT acts in 2009 by Delhi High Court.
Right now they are fighting for the review petition they submitted after the 2009 ruling was reversed by the Supreme Court in 2013 to bring an end to this archaic law.
MINGLE or Mission for Indian Gay & Lesbian Empowerment is a first-of-its-kind non-profit advocacy group working towards the uplifting of the community in planned and strategic ways and not just charity. It consists of an entire think-tank of academicians, students and professionals from varied fields and a common vision of a liberal India where the citizens lead a safe, secure and dignified life irrespective of their gender or sexuality. The organisation has veterans like Anjali Gopalan, one of the leaders of the Madurai Pride Walk and Udayan Dhar, the Chief Editor of Pink Pages- India’s National LGBT magazine on board.
- HUMSAFAR TRUST, MUMBAI
Humsafar Trust is a Mumbai-based non-profit organisation founded by Ashok Row Kavi (also the founder of Bombay Dost) in 1994. Ever since, they have been providing security, counselling, medical care and mental support to the LGBT community and have helped in reducing the violence and discrimination against them to an extent. This organisation is the convener-member of INFOSEM (Integrated Network for Sexual Minorities).
The Humsafar Trust has set up various sub-organisations, such as ‘Gaurav’ for male sex workers, ‘Kinnar Kasturi’ and ‘Kinnar Asmita’ for transgenders, ‘Sanjeevani’ for MSM and transgenders with HIV, and ‘Umang’ and ‘Yaariyan’ for LBT and LGBT persons respectively.
- SANGAMA, BANGALORE
Sangama is a resource centre doing similar kind of work in Bangalore, and doing it well. It concentrates on the rights of sexual minorities, fight against sexual harassment and HIV-discrimination with an aim of socio-political and cultural scope for the community members at large. Sangama was founded in 1999 by Manohar Elavarthi as a centre that provided advocacy to sexual minorities and research materials to scholars of LGBT issues. They hold reach-out programs for the sexual minorities, welcome drop-ins, keep a track of LGBT violence in and around the city and provide legal services to those who need it.
- SAPPHO FOR EQUALITY
Sappho was a Greek poet who lived in the Lesbos Island in Greece nearly 2500 years ago.
She is revered as the first woman to have expressed her love for other women in her lyrics, which have been destroyed mostly.
Sappho for Equality is a Kolkata based organisation and forum, established in 2003, that works for the rights and social justice of sexually marginalized women and trans-men. It uniquely works towards creating a bridge between the so-called normative and non-normative communities in our society on various levels. They run counselling, health services, crisis intervention, self-help workshops, group meetings and social clubs, film festivals, seminars, along with a Sexuality Resource Centre – Chetana and a biannual bilingual magazine – Swakanthey (one’s own voice).