On ‘Religion, Inclusiveness and Sexual Minorities’ Discussion, Bangalore, 24th AUG 09

Many people (including myself) spoke at the discussion organized by Sangama and Aneka with religious leaders on “Religion, Inclusiveness and Sexual Minorities” in NGO hall, Bangalore on 24th August 2009 including:

Swami Agnivesh (Bandhua Mukti Morcha and Arya Samaj)

Dr. Asgar Ali Engineer (Islamic Scholar, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism)

Rev. K. C Abraham (Theologian, Church of South India)

Mr. Christopher Rajkumar (Commission on Justice, Peace, Creation – National Council of Churches in India)

Mr. Dinesh Ghodke (World Alliance for Youth Empowerment, Art of Living)

Guruji Vinay Vinekar (Institute of Universal Consciousness)

Dr. Saleem Kidwai, medieval historian, translator, writer and editor of Same-sex love in India

Ms. Mansi Meera Baindur (Ecofeminist and Philosopher, National Institute of Advanced Studies)

Ms. Revathi, writer and sexual minority activist

Ms. Abhinaya, Film Actress

I represented Sangama and Aneka as their co-director and spoke about the situation of sexual minorities in the society and how they also get rejected by different religious spaces, institutions and leaders. This program was focused on how religions could be more inclusive.

Swami Agnivesh stated that he was one of the first people who signed the petition against section 377 of the Indian penal Code. He said god could be realized in all human beings and sexual minorities too are human. He said that when he welcomed the Delhi high court judgment some other religious leaders attacked his house and he said if him supporting sexual minorities received this response what could be the situation of sexual minorities.

Film actress Abhinaya stated that she supports the cause of sexual minorities.

Rev K.C. Abraham said that society and religions should be open to all people without discrimination. He appealed to sexual minorities to take forward their struggle for justice.

Ms. Revathi from Sangama spoke about how in Hijra culture includes many aspects of Hinduism and Islam.

Swami Dinesh said that IPC section 377 was like a fossil and was extremely discriminatory. He conveyed the message of love and support from his Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Swami Vinay Vinekar said that religion is not a religion if it teaches hate. All religions will accept people without discrimination.

Dr. Christopher Rajkumar said that he was impressed by reading the book of an Aravani Vidya and also said that if religions preach discrimination they are not religions at all. He said that there is a need for a campaign to become human and to remain human.

Ms. Mansi Meera Baindur said even religions have been changing and patriarchy has taken over the religion too, which has led into problems.

The session was chaired by Mr. David Selva Raj from Visthar.

Here are the links for some media coverage:

DNA: Agnivesh backs sexual minorities

HINDU: Centre urged not to fight Section 377 ruling

MID-DAY: ‘Be more human’

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Discussion: Religion, inclusiveness and Sexual Minorities, Bangalore, 24 Aug 09

Sangama and Aneka

invite you to a discussion on

“Religion, inclusiveness and Sexual Minorities”

on 24th August 2009, Monday from 2 PM to 6 PM


at the NGO Hall, Cubbon Park, Opposite Vikasa Soudha, Bangalore – 560001. Phone: 080 22354784

Speakers include:

Swami Agnivesh

Guruji Vinaykar

Dr. Asgar Ali Engineer

Dr. Saleem Kidwai

Mr. Christopher Rajkumar

Fr. K. C. Abraham

Mr. David Selvaraj and

Ms. Manasi  Baindur

Issues of sexuality and gender are hotly contested in both religious communities and national cultures around the world. Further when the question relates to homosexuality and  transgenderism they invoke sharper responses, from ideas that this these are sinful, shameful, perversion and deserving of the highest punishment and wrath of god; to ambiguity and limited tolerance and even acceptance.

In the wake of the judgement on IPC section 377 by the Delhi High Court, that decriminalises homosexuality many religious bodies have condemned the judgement arguing that it was against religion, immoral and even against Indian culture. These people have been quoted repeatedly by the media and have also been invited to speak at various fora on these issues. This emphasises the notion that religious traditions are inherently conservative or even reactionary in their  commitments to powerful patriarchal and pronatalist (encouraging child bearing) sexual norms and gender categories.

However there have also been voices that spoke differently and adopted a more nuanced stand. These however have got scant attention. It is these voices that Sangama and Aneka is seeking to bring together to illustrate the diverse, complex and at times even contradictory traditions and practices that come under the broad rubric of “religion”. There are also sexual minorities who are people of faith; embracing both religion and their sexuality with joy  who are again invisible in the discourse. The basic tenets of all religions that are love and compassion; and recognizing the divine in all beings. This then makes the attitude of hate and violence inadmissible.

Religions have also been influenced by strong movements for rights and have changed their position on for example issues related to women. The texts and practices are constantly being reinterpreted by people coming from other perspectives and they have transformed religion. The time is now ripe for such an engagement between religion and issues of sexual minorities. We invite all of you to come and be part of this discussion.

The Right that Dares to Speak its Name: A Primer on the Naz Foundation Judgment

http://lawandotherthings.blogspot.com/2009/08/right-that-dares-to-speak-its-name.html


The Right that Dares to Speak its Name: A Primer on the Naz Foundation Judgment


Dear All

Given the importance of the Naz Foundation decision, and despite the fact that it is an excellently written judgment, we recognize that a 105 pages can be a challenge for many people. We were therefore prompted to bring out an analytical primer which could serve as a guide through the intricacies of the judgment.

We are happy to announce the publication of a new primer on the judgment. “The Right that Dares to speak its Name” has been put together by Arvind Narrain and Marcus Eldridge. The Primer contains a schematic guide highlighting the key aspects of the judgment with a commentary. It then examines the background and finally contains a few commentaries that came out after the judgment. The Primer is 140 pages and is priced at Rs. 50. Copies are available at ALF

For more details and to download a copy please visit this site.

Table Of Contents:

Introduction

Schematic Guide: Naz Foundation v. Union of India

* The Law
* The Parties
* The Bench
* The Rationale
* Conclusion
* Basis of Ruling
* Territorial Applicability of the judgment


Background: The Naz Judgment

Outline of Arguments on behalf of Voices against 377

Edited Transcripts of the final arguments before the Delhi High Court

Commentaries

* On Freedom’s avenue, Gautam Bhan
* Reforming Macaulay, Kajal Bharadwaj
* India: From ‘perversion’ to right to life with dignity, Kalpana Kannabiran
* Who’s afraid of Homosexuality, Ram Jethmalani
* Striving for magic in the city of words, Lawrence Liang and Siddarth Narrain
* Its about all of us , Prathap Bhanu Mehta
* Good for all minorities, Tarunabh Khaitan
* Navigating the Noteworthy and the Nebulous in Naz Foundation, Vikram Raghavan
* Keeping Religion out of the Gay debate, Siddharth Bhatia

Seminar on “Perspective of mental sciences on sexual minorities”, 17th August, Bangalore

Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum and Sangama

invite you to the seminar on

Perspective of mental sciences on sexual minorities

on 17th August, 2009, Monday

from 2 PM to 6 PM

at the Indian Medical Association Hall, IMA Building, Alur Venkar Rao Road, Chamarajpet, Bangalore – 560018, Phone: 26703255 (Near Tippu Sultan palace, Between Bangalore Medical College and Minto Hospital)

Speakers include: Dr. Shekhar Sheshadri (NIMHANS), Dr. Ali Khwaja(Banjara Academy), BN Sharada (Parivarthan), Arvind Narrain(Alternative Law Forum) and Vinay Chandran (Swabhava Trust)

Despite professional bodies such as the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the World Health Organisation removing homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses almost thirty years ago; the myth that it is “abnormal”, a disease that needs to be cured or the product of maladjustment prevails.

These myths have fuelled a climate of injustice and many sexual minorities have been subjected to brutal violation of their human rights. In the name of “curing” them of something that is seen as unnatural, abnormal or perverse; they are subjected to different therapies, treatment, penances and magical healing processes. These experiences are traumatic, violent and a serious infringement of the fundamental rights of the person.

In the wake of the recent Delhi High Court judgement on Section 377 of the IPC, which decriminalises consensual sex between adults, many doctors, quacks, yoga teachers and faith-healers and others are claiming to “cure” people of their homosexuality. Some of them are part of the attempt to challenge the Delhi High Court judgement at the Supreme Court. Given this context it is of urgent importance to examine the basis of these claims and debunk the myths and challenge the misconceptions about issues of homosexuality and bring about a change in public opinion to prevent further human rights violations under the guise of changing the sexuality of a person.

This seminar aims to do this through a meeting with lay audience to dispel the misconceptions with  the help of mental health professionals, and counsellors who will deal with the ethical, medical, scientific and  human rights aspects of  dealing with issues of homosexuality.

India CCM Election Sub-committee accepts the candidature of Suraksha

I am HAPPY to SHARE this GOOD NEWS.  

India CCM Election Sub-committee has accepted my candidature.  

My name is added to the election website’s contesting list. You can find it at http://www.indiaccm-elections.org/contesting-list.aspx (look under Sexual Minorities)

Scuttling of Global Fund’s India CCM Election Process

My (representing Suraksha) candidature to contest India CCM Election was denied unfairly. Here is the letter explaining the same in detail:

Bangalore
4th April, 2009

Dear friends

We are shocked at the way our (Suraksha WRHCP) candidature to contest Global Fund’s India CCM CSO Elections 2009 (http://www.indiaccm-elections.org) under the sub sector ‘Organizations working on the issues of Sexual Minorities’ was rejected.

The stated reason for rejecting our application was “Your organisation has in fact not met the following criteria set by the CMM Election Sub-Committee.
– Primarily working in the specific sub-sector that is sought to be represented”

We are at a loss how the committee came to this conclusion given that most of our work and almost all of our funding in the past 4 years has been for working with sexual minorities, primarily from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

We are also shocked at the blatant unfairness of the whole process, given that the India CCM election process claims to be transparent and fair. Below we list the events that lead us to come to the above conclusion.

– Finalized list of eligible candidates was suppose to be uploaded to the website on 2nd April however the same was put up only on April 3rdafternoon

– The email informing the rejection of our candidature arrived on the afternoon of 3rd April

– On April 4th morning when we contacted Mr. Pawan Varma (Election Secretariat, MAMTA Health Institute for Mother and Child) and enquired about reason for stating that Suraksha doesn’t primarily work with sexual minorities, he stated that it was the decision of the Election Sub-Committee. When asked about the detailed information for rejecting our candidature and to the process to appeal against the decision, he asked us to send a email to him, which he will forward to the sub-committee. He said that a we may not get a response till the 6th given that 4th and 5th are holidays

– Given the urgency of the matter (voting starts 9am on 7th April) how fair is it to have the rejection of the candidate and no time/ process to appeal?

– When asked about the composition of the Election sub-committee, he said that he is not authorized to reveal this info. When questioned about the lack of transparency and lack of a contact point to discuss this matter, he asked us to get in touch with  Komal Khanna and Ashima Mohan  from the Secretariat of the India-CCM for The Global Fund. He was willing to give us only the land line phone numbers and not mobile phone numbers. He also stated that they will not be working on the 4th and 5th April. We called the landline phone numbers mentioned in the India CCM website on 4th morning one of the numbers is invalid and there is no response to the other number.

This makes us believe that these elections are seriously compromised and raises serious questions about democracy, transparency and participation.

We appeal to all fair minded people and organization to raise your voice against this wilful scuttling of the election process.

Please feel free to contact us for more information.

In Solidarity

Elavarthi Manohar
Suraksha WRHCP
Bangalore, India

Copies to:
1. Communities Delegation to the board of the Global Fund
2. Developing Country NGO Delegation to the board of the Global Fund
3. Developed Country NGO Delegation to the board of the Global Fund
4. India CCM Secretariat

“You can’t ignore us anymore!” – Transgender Activism in India, Public Lecture in Bangalore, 6th April 2009

Dear friends

A first in Bangalore – A Public Meeting exclusively focusing on diverse transgender issues in India….  

Aneka invites you to:  


“You can’t ignore us anymore!” – Transgender Activism in India  

On  6th April 2009 (Monday)  

From  5 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.  

At Vishranti Nilaya, CSI Women’s House, 18 Infantry Road (Diagonally opposite The Hindu Office), Bangalore  

Five activists share their experiences and insights on working with transgender people in different parts of India.  

Issues of SRS – Challenges for Law, the Medical Establishment, State and Society  Tista Das (on M2F) and Christy Raj (on F2M)  

Being Transgender in Rural Tamil Nadu: Challenges in Organising – Muthukumar Natesan  

Working with Hijras in Bangalore: Dilemmas and Challenges Elavarthi Manohar  

Patriarchy and Transgenders: Challenges for the Feminist Movement in India Anindya Hajra  

Chair Person: C. K. Meena, journalist and writer 

In Solidarity  

Elavarthi Manohar and Shubha Chacko

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