Published: 17th March 2020
Can't express ourselves openly: Queer students in EFLU call Students' Union 'homophobic' in open letter
While the queer students call the Students' Union homophobic, the latter calls the former Islamophobic and the tussle continues. What is the truth?
A group of queer students in the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad have written an open letter, accusing the Students' Union of being homophobic. The students who have accused the Students' Union and the administration of being anti-queer, have also said that their comments, 'actions and rationale are extremely threatening and hurtful to the members of the queer community'.
But what was it that prompted the students to pen this letter? Nandu, a PhD scholar tells us that it all began on March 2, when the students observed the seventh death anniversary of Mudassir Kamran, an ex-student of the university. "A Kashmiri Muslim, Mudassir was subjected to Islamophobia and homophobia on campus. We do not know what his sexual identity was, but he was constantly harassed, with people calling him a 'mad person' and 'accusing' him of being a homosexual," she says. "Keeping his identity aside, he was taunted in such a manner that implied that being a homosexual/queer person is immoral. Soon after this, Mudassir committed suicide," she adds.
Nandu tells us how she and another queer friend wanted to write the slogan 'Queer Lives Matter' next to Mudassir's picture and was stopped by the EFLUSU General Secretary Samar Ali. "We wrote Q and u and the General Secretary asked us to stop. They said that the union doesn't have any plan to address homophobia as nobody knows Mudassir's sexual identity," she says. "She went on to say that the slogan will give an impression that Mudassir was a queer person. But we never attributed a queer identity to him. Also, being queer is not a bad thing," she asks.
Someone who recently came out as queer through a Facebook post, Nandu says that the queer community in the university is closeted. "Queer people are not made to feel comfortable in this university. Homophobia is present everywhere here. For instance, a few students said that Mudassir was a practising Muslim and hence he couldn't have been queer," she says. In her Facebook post, Nandu wrote, "I don't know who or what I'm going to lose with this revelation. I felt that I needed to speak for those in the queer community who could not express themselves, organise or even comment openly. Given the current state of affairs in our campus, I think it's a privilege to even say this openly."
"We, the members of the queer community of EFLU, respect the intersectionality of identities and strongly condemn the dirty political tactic of pitting one marginalised identity against another. We recognise it as a mere gimmick to evade responsibility and avoid being held responsible for the homophobic stance reiterated both in discussions and on online platforms," reads the letter by the queer students.
EFLUSU General Secretary Samar, on the other hand, rubbished all the claims. "This is nothing but an attempt to defame me. My organisation and I were never against the queer community. We only asked them to not divert the cause's attention," she says. "The current attitude only shows the left-liberals' Islamophobia," she adds.