A 3-day convention on sexuality minorities opened on Monday at Bangalore, southern India. It has brought bring together sexuality minority communities from across the state of Karnataka to enable them articulate and share their problems and experiences.
This is the second such statewide convention. "Mobilisation, collectivisation and empowerment" would be themes of the meet.
Sowmya of Samara, a non-governmental organization told reporters earlier that invariably sexuality minorities met with rejection, ridicule and violence. They faced harassment at the hands of the police, the health system and even in educational institutions. The convention would try and educate them on the legal options available to them to counter injustice.
Elavarthi Manohar of the Suraksha, another NGO, said the community had to face up to social stigma at every turn - "hijras", "jogappas", "kothis", homosexuals, bisexuals, lesbians, transvestites, those who had undergone sex change, every one of them felt humiliated and discriminated against in various ways.
A regional convention had been held last month in Hubli in Karnataka in an attempt to create greater awareness of the problems of the sexuality minorities. There was also an interaction with the civil society leaders at the time.
Sexuality minorities are gaining increasing international attention. United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Ms. Asma Jahangir, and the Special Rapportuer on Violence Against Women, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy have both highlighted the predicament of such groups.
In her 1997 report, Ms. Coomaraswamy observed, "Women who . . . live out their sexuality in ways other than heterosexuality, are often subjected to violence and degrading treatment."
"Women," she wrote, "'unprotected' by a marriage union with a man, are vulnerable members of the community, often marginalized in community social practices and the victims of social ostracism and abuse."