The activist group at Sahodaran released colourful balloons following the panel discussion
The activist group at Sahodaran released colourful balloons following the panel discussion

Chennai's LGBTQIA+ community is coming out in order to take down Section 377 

The Tamil Nadu LGBTQIA community and Sahodaran gathered together on Indian Coming Out Day on July 2 to create awareness among the public on why the Sectio 377 should be revoked ASAP

The Indian Coming Out Day falls on July 2, the day that the Delhi High Court decriminalised Section 377 in 2009. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling, but the day continues to be observed by the community which is why the roads in Aminijikarai were full of colour and slogans even though Pride month has come to an end. The LGBTQIA+ group at Sahodaran,  a group that fights for gender rights in Chennai , encored with the slogan 'Section 377 DOWN DOWN'.

People in that area began enquiring what the charged lot was up to. For them, it was an unusual sight, "What's going on?" one of them finally asked. "It's an LGBTQIA+ march. They want to be treated like one of us," I informed. The man smirked as if I had mentioned something unnatural. 

We, as a society, are still not used to seeing the queer out in the public, unapologetic and confident. In a bid to change the very idea, Sahodaran, organised a panel discussion opposing Section 377 of IPC on Monday. "Finding a house to live in with your family, to get a bank account, to go to a departmental store — even these basic and daily activities come with challenges for us," said Brinda Lakshmi, panelist and gender and sexuality activist, pressing the need to revoke Section 377.  

WHAT IS SECTION 377 of IPC: The law that was introduced during the British regime mentions that homosexual sexual activities are illegal. It was decriminalised in July 2009 by Delhi High Court but Supreme Court debarred saying that it is a matter of the Parliament

The panel discussion highlighted that while it is just another judgement for people outside the community but for the queer it is about the challenges that they face every single day. "At work, you can't even say that your partner is sick and you need to take leave. Because most people don't know about this provision. This section doesn't criminalise the declaration of being homosexual. It only criminalises homosexual activities. But people still can't talk about it openly, can't get married, can't take health insurance policies. The daily problems are many," Jaya M, General Manager of Sahodaran.  

Gender Activist Srijith Sundaram, who was also moderating the panel took Jaya' point forward and said that they don't want to live in fear. "In this panel discussion, we want to talk about why section 377 must be removed and what are the problems that are caused by it for the LGBTIQ community. I want to highlight that in July 2009 the Indian queer was eagerly awaiting an important judgement. Each and every LGBTQIA+ member was waiting in the hope that their lives would be changed. If there were about 90 per cent homosexuals who came out, after 377 was introduced, more than half of them went back to hiding. That's why it needs to go," he makes his point.  

In other countries, people can talk about the issue but India has not been sensitised enough. That leaves many in fear. They are very vulnerable and prone to suicide.  And that's exactly what happened to Sahodaran's Founder and Director Sunil Menon's friend. "One of my FB friends recently committed suicide, I knew he was gay. But in his suicide note, he cited other reasons. This is 2018. Even now, depression, suicide, blackmail and other issues plague the LGBTQ community," he said as he was visibly pained by the loss. 

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