Repeal Section 377, recommends SAHRA

New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS) South Asian Human Rights Association (SAHRA) recommended the repeal of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code here on Tuesday in its anual report launched in collaboration with the resource centre on sexuality — Sangma.

The report on “Human Rights Violations based on Sexuality and Gender Identity in South Asia”, addresses the urgent need to document the violence and discrimination that goes unreported and continues with impunity.

“It recommends to repeal Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and implement the provisions from the NALSA judgment that guarantees transgender people freedom from discrimination by the state, equal employment and education opportunity,” said programme director of Sangma, Rajesh Srinivas.

“The aim of the SAHRA for people, who are marginalised because of their sexuality and gender identity/expression, is to systematically document human rights violations against sexual and gender minorities in the South Asian region (Bangladesh, India,Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan and the Maldives),” he added.

SAHRA has collected 156 cases of human rights violations during 2014 and 2015.

The cases have been documented by a community of grassroots activists in the South Asian countries. Sixteen cases from India, 56 from Bangladesh, 62 from Nepal and 22 from Sri Lanka are included in this report.

“It is community-driven and the data is segregated based on issues. Police and family are the sites of violations,” said lawyer and researcher Siddarth Narrain.

The age of the victims lies between 14 to 57 years. Among those of the perpetrators, the police constitute almost 50 per cent. When victims are transwomen, the police constitute 69 per cent of the perpetrators.

Among lesbians, bisexual women and transmen, the picture is starkly different.

Family members (16 per cent) and neighbours (17 per cent) are the major perpetrators of violence. The gay and bisexual men in this sample experience violence chiefly from family members (26 per cent), neighbours (10 per cent) and the police (17 per cent).

According to Advocacy and Media Associate of Sangma Christy Raj: “Female born sexual minorities are further marginalised within LGBT movement. The family and the state are two sites of violations. We are forced into marriage and stripped by doctors at health care.”

The report also recommends to incorporate comprehensive sex education in the national curriculum and raise awareness on sexuality and gender issues and to introduce provisions for ‘sex reaffirmation/reassignment surgery’ within the public health system.

“Section 377 needs to repealed. When Shashi Tharoor introduced the bill, the bill was not even listed for discussion,” Narrain said.

He referred to the recent surrogacy bill and said that the message sent out by it was that “single persons and homosexuals are not capable of being parents”.

Inclusion of sexual and gender minorities within national level surveys on health, education and other indicators and sensitization of government officials including on human rights of all have also been recommended in the report.

“It is a valuable and important documentation beyond the litigation process. It is also our individual understanding and our responsibility,” said Senior Supreme Court Lawyer and Feminist Rights Activist Vrinda Grover.

“The LGBT community is excluded from citizenship. The TG bill is going in wrong direction, the medical fraternity is trying to fit people in boxes,” she said.

“The entire spectrum of human lives gets destabilized by social practices and norms. We need to come to terms that our society is based on violence and discrimination,” she added.

–IANS

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