LGBTQ: SOCIAL STIGMA, DISCRIMINATION AND THEIR NON-ACCEPTANCE

Soumya Ranjan parida

Battle for gender identity, equal rights and recognition has gained importance in today’s era. Acceptance of is not a one nation issue but it is actually a worldwide issue. LGBTQ is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. Sometimes, the Q at the end of LGBT can also mean questioning. This term describes someone who is questioning their gender identity. These terms are used to describe a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sexual orientation is a not a new phenomenon. It has been in existence since ages in every race, culture and class but they haven’t come to the fore because of bullying, mocking and discrimination due to the mentality of the orthodox people in our society. LGBTQ adolescents are being discriminated and mocked at home as well as at school. They face verbal and physical harassment at these places. Parents who should care, support, protect and guide them think that it shameful and immoral and don’t accept the homosexuality of their child. Due to peer victimization and discrimination LGBTQ individuals drop out from school or become academic failures. School becomes an unsafe, unhealthy learning environment for them. Discrimination hampers their natural growth and has an emotional and negative impact on them. As a consequence, they don't feel comfortable with their gender and develop an inferiority complex. They prefer to hide and remain in their closet. They are in constant fear and can’t able to live a life with dignity. They feel insecure in the judgmental society. All these lead to their loneliness, depression and inclination for suicide.

Sexual violence has been occurring upon transgender people each and every day but it has been ignored or not recognized as violence until the person takes its last breath. Our society doesn’t accept the same sex attraction and relationship as a normal human condition. This judgmental society carried this social stigma and considers it as a disgrace and shameful conduct as a result of which discrimination occurs. Transgender communities are being excluded from their social and cultural life. They are not given the right to participate in the decision making process. All   these are due to lack of their proper legal recognition in the gender biased society. Legal recognition is badly necessary for them, without it the Transgender people cannot get the basic amenities of life, i.e. ration card, passport, bank account etc. to live happily and peacefully. They don't have civic rights, starting from access to health to inheritance rights, the right to vote , contest election and adopt a child.

Gender is decided from the very birth of the child. Transgender people should be treated equally as enshrined in article 14. Whatever their sexual orientation is, they can enjoy their basic human rights including right to privacy and no discrimination. Transgender people should not be denied basic necessities, such as nutrition, food, medical facilities, right to education and adopt child. Article 21 specifies the fundamental right to life and personal liberty to everyone. From ages, Article 14, 15, 16, 19, 21 of the constitution are being violated and treating transgender in an unfair manner and not given proper recognization and legal entity.

Due to changes in law regarding LGBTQ people, i.e. repeal of section 377 of IPC1, there has been a slight change in public attitude towards them. In India, the central has recognized them as a third category and started treating them as equals and confer benefits. Protection of LGBTQ rights is given utmost importance and priority. So, new strategies and policies of their non-discrimination and opportunities are being addressed. The main objective of this is to give equal treatment to LGBTQ people.

Transgender people are allowed to register themselves as third gender in all government documents such as Adhaar Cards, passports and bank accounts. A number of programmes are designed by the government to ameliorate their condition. For example, Third gender option is being provided along side with male (M), female(F), using designated as others (O). Supreme court has declared that transgender people are economically, socially backward and suppressed. So, to increase their status and to uplift them government has framed welfare schemes and reservation in job and education. Healthcare, legal aid, employment and pensions are being guaranteed rights of transgender people.

After decriminalization of such acts (sec 377) , changes are being reflected in our Indian society but still more policies and law should be made so that LGBTQ people will feel safe and lead a dignified life. Government should not be biased and make our environment more transgender friendly. Still negative attitude of people towards them is a matter of concern. It is true that parliament has passed the Transgender Persons (protection of rights) Bill, 2019 but it has many lacunas which should be addressed. For example Police officers refuse to register the FIR of rape of transgender on the ground that men cannot be raped under IPC. In NALSA Vs Union of India, the first leading case which gives a landmark judgment in favor of transgender. The Supreme Court in this case recognized them as third gender and declared that all persons have the right of self-identification about their gender as a male, female or third gender. So, the Supreme Court not only granted legal recognition but also directed the government to give reservation in education and employment for their uplift. Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan told the Supreme Court while handing down the ruling that “Recognition of transgender as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human right issue. In Navtej Singh Johar Vs Union of India, The Supreme Court decriminalized an old law under section 377 of IPC which criminalizes consensual unnatural sexual conduct between adults. Sec 377 is not only violative of Article 14 but also it violates Article 21, i.e. Right to live with dignity and personal liberty. Sec 377 denies a person dignity and criminalizes because of sexuality is immoral and bad in nature. It is unjust and unfair and not reasonable. So, it has been repealed. Law should not arbitrary but relevant. There is a great quote by Rumer Willis love doesn’t care how much money you have, doesn’t care who your parents are, it doesn’t care if you are gay, straight or transgender. So, we should respect to everyone whether they are gay, straight or lesbian. We should understand their pain only when we step into their shoes. Every day they are leading their life in a battle field fighting against oppression, abuse and discrimination against them.

We should think properly where rights of LGBTQ are being ignored and not emphasized properly then we can imagine how other minorities communities will be in great danger. There is a great need to change public perception towards them. It’s not a choice to be a gay, lesbian, bisexual or straight but we can choose how to behave with them and support them instead of treating them like aliens. They are human species too like others and there is nothing[1] bad in them. They are part of our society and have right to occupy same position in the society then it will help in societal change and leading beyond stereotypes views. People should be broad minded and accept that they are not a threat to other people and they are not trying to influence others to be like them. LGBTQ people exist everywhere and they are equally important like anyone else. No one should be judged for whom they love. Love is love . Love is not specific but equal. Always feel proud of what you and accept your sexuality. Don’t be afraid of the embarrassment, be confident and consider your sexuality as a superpower .After that you can come out of the closet and show your true colors to the world and your celebrate sexuality. People forget to live their own life because they are worried about what other people think of them. It is true that other people opinion matters but that doesn’t mean that you will not have respect for yourself. You should have equal respect for what you feel about yourself as well as others people opinions and keep a balance. In this way you will boost your confidence and succeed. No one is perfect .Everyone has flaws. So always remember never apologize for who you are. So, there is a saying that apologizes for what you have done but never for who you are. LQBTQ people should be accepted instead of being ridiculed. We should provide emotional support to them instead of discriminating them. We should raise voice whenever we found anyone treating them in a cruel and bad manner. They are not abnormal, normal like other people. Everyone born on this planet have equal right over everything present here so, as they too have that right. We should respect them and stop discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

Many countries have treated LGBTQ individuals at par with straight individuals in almost everywhere including at workplace without stereotyping them because of their sexuality. Movies and television programmers portray the discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and their side of the story and how it has impacted them as well as the society and how to accept them and empower them in a positive fashion.

[1]NALSA VS UNION OF INDIA,2014 ; NAVTEJ SINGH JOHAR VS UNION OF INDIA,2018; Quote by Rumer willis