In India, accurate data on the homeless is difficult to find — the causes, the sheer numbers and the different groups within the larger group. Combining that with the fact that sexuality is considered a taboo; an unspoken part of life, ‘coming out’ for a young member of the LGBTQIA+ community in India is unlikely with the exception of those who identify as transgender. Nonetheless, Indian culture still means that these discussions do not often happen. Those who have no need to come out to their family and community are able to live in relatively good economic situations — with their loved ones — however transgenders often come across as effeminate, or masculine are easily recognised and are therefore ostracised.
The Peoples Union for Civil Liberties in Karnataka studied ‘kothi’ and ‘hijra’ (males who do not identify as such) sex workers in Bangalore in 2003. Sachin began taking on more domestic tasks at age 17. The blackballing began with questions like “Why don’t you go out and work like a man?” or “Why are you staying at home like a girl?” and ended with being as asked to leave not only her home but her village. As untrained as she was – therefore unable to work – she was unable to fend for herself. She attempted suicide. Only after leaving home to join a community of ‘hijras’ and becoming a sex worker was she able to start a life as who she is.
Leaving their families and homes are not the only issues that people who identify as transgender face. The streets are made dangerous by the very laws that should be protecting them. Section 377 criminalises homosexuals and other sexual minorities and dates back to 1860 when India was still a part of the British Empire. This obviously outdated law as well as the ITPA (Immoral Traffic Prevention Act) allows the police enormous powers to persecute unbridled in closed police stations. Sex workers are even persecuted when the owners of the brothels, traffickers and pimps are not. Transgenders who are willingly sex workers are also hounded without evidence of solicitation. Efforts to address these problems began in December of 2013 when the court threw out the repeal to the parliament, saying that it was for the elected parliamentarians to change the law. However no political party would champion it, in fear of alienation. Although, the supreme court did order a re-examination in 2016. Finding a solution for these issues needs more data and research and most of all an awareness amongst citizens, but some progress is being made.
For Indian Transgenders, getting a shelter home Is an uphill task. The ostracism for transgenders in the country is so heightened that members of the community even find it difficult to live in rented houses.
“As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.” Nelson Mandela.
None of us should…..