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Sex Workers and Sexual Minorities face discrimination in HIV+ people’s network
Arunodaya Network Of Positive People (ANP+) is a registered district-level network of HIV Positive People in Bangalore Urban District, Karnataka. Its members include HIV positive persons from the communities of ex workers and sexual minorities, who face discrimination even in HIV positive people’s networks due to their occupation/ sexual orientation/ gender identity. The Annual General Body meeting and the elections to elect the new board representatives are scheduled to be held on 28th October (Thursday). But on 21st of Oct 2010, a few members complained that their nominations were rejected on unfair grounds i.e. for being a sex worker or a sexual minority person. The rejected members filed their nomination under the general category. The election rules of the society do not prohibit any member contestingin open category, which is also an universal principle of justice. The candidates who were rejected were from the reserved category (sex workers and sexual minorities) and filed their nomination for the general category post (Open category).
As per society’s rule, the elections should be conducted democratically and the bylaws of the society should be shared with each and every member of the society. The rejected members have complained that Arunodaya Network has failed to provide a copy of the bylaws to other board members and ordinary members.
Rejected member’s quotes:
Usha, member of Arunodaya Network for the last 3 years:
For the last 3 years, I am a member of Arunodaya network. When I became a member, one of the board members in the year 2006 gave me counselling. Based on the counselling, the network registered me as a member under the general category. I filed my nomination under the general category. But my nomination was rejected as they considered me under the reserved category which is completely wrong as per their documentation. The Arunodaya Network asked me to put my nomination for the reserved post. In this election, 1 post is reserved for a female sex worker and one from the community of sexual minorities. It is completely unfair to ask me to contest under the reserved category. Rejecting my nomination for the general category is a violation of my right as a member. This is completely undemocratic and against the rights of sex workers.
Vijaya Kumar, members of Arunodaya Network:-
Since last 6 months I am the member of the network. I am actively associated Arunodaya Network. I identify myself as a Bisexual. The Arunodaya network registered me as a member under the reserved (Sexual Minority) category. Even though I am a reserved category member, I am interested to contest in the election for the general category post, which is my right as a member. I wanted to contest from general category to prove that there are sexual minorities who are capable of winning elections, without reservation. This was my sincere effort. I wanted to bring my other sexual minority friends to the mainstream. But rejecting my candidature, they have discriminated me and have violated my rights. If they cannot provide me a chance, as a District Level Network (DLN) what support can they provide to other sexual minorities? I want fair, democratic election process so that there is no discrimination.
1. The Arunodaya Network should conduct fair and democratic elections according to its bylaws and the law of the land.
2. There should be no discrimination for the reserved category members contesting in elections.
3. Reserved category members should be provided equal opportunities.
For more information: Vijaya Kumar (95387 09146), Usha (80507 68692)