THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Homosexuality continues to be a crime in the country but Kerala has made the first definite move to remove the stigma surrounding gays and lesbians in the state and prevent violence against them.
The revolutionary intent, though couched in legally safe jargon, is found in the Draft State Policy for Transgenders in Kerala 2015.
Instead of the obvious nomenclature ‘gays’ or ‘lesbians’, the policy uses the term “gender non-conforming”. But leaving no doubt as to the category referred to, a clear distinction is made between gender non-conforming (GNC) group and transgenders (TG) throughout the policy.
For instance, while speaking of school-level awareness, the policy states: “Educational institutions/Universities should establish an anti-discrimination cell to monitor any form of discrimination/harassment against gender non-conforming students and transgender students.”
However, because of the legal complexities involved, the GNC group is sought only to be insulated from physical and emotional harm. All tangible benefits – like financial assistance and reservations – are recommended only for TGs.
“Homosexuality is still an unnatural act according to law and so to seek affirmative action for homosexuals is legally untenable. But we are trying for a change in the way such people are perceived and this has to happen first in schools and homes,” a top Social Justice official said.
The draft policy states that awareness generation and sensitisation are required for parents to support and accept their gender non-conforming children.
The hostility faced by such children in schools has also been touched upon in the draft policy. “Awareness of gender diversity and the need to safeguard gender nonconforming youth from hostile school environments is a dire need.
Gender non-conforming and transgender students face physical, mental and emotional violence in educational institutions, which forces them to leave schools,” the policy states.
The Draft Policy has been prepared followed a comprehensive transgender survey conducted by the NGO Sangama, the first-ever such survey in the country...