Shillong’s LGBTQ community celebrate life with dignity

Written by Meghalaya Times. Posted in Front Page

Staff Reporter
SHILLONG, Sep 07: Freed of the stigma of homophobia and hate, the LGBTQ community of Meghalaya together with the members of a few NGOs and individuals on Friday welcomed the Supreme Court judgment which ensured that the people of this community can live with dignity and rights.
Music, smiles and a sense of freedom prevailed at the Don Bosco Square on Friday afternoon as representatives of the Shamakamani group, an NGO that looks into the welfare of the transgender participated along with members of TUR and individuals at the celebratory moment of the Supreme Court Judgment that decriminalizes gay sex.

Hailing the verdict of the apex court, Dona Marwein, vice president of the Shamakami, an organization looking after the welfare of the LGBT community said, “It (judgement) was a relief at least now we get to live our own lives. We are very much excited and that is the reason why we are celebrating here to publicize that we are happy and glad.”
Dona, who is a transgender however said though stigma and discrimination will continue in the state and other places but as a community they will go on fighting for their rights.Meanwhile, member of TUR, Tarun Bhatia lauded the verdict but however said that mere changing of laws would not help and it is the mindset of the people that really needs to change.
Appealing to church leaders to accept them the way they are, Dona said, “Just as the SC brought changes in the country, I want the same changes to be there in our state the acceptance for the community as human especially the churches as they are really against (us).”
Stating that the churches doesn’t accept homosexualtity at present, she said, “We are trying with the churches and we have done sensitization workshop with the churches once it was a success. May be in future the churches will accept us we hope for that.”
Another member of the community Vishal Blah also said that he wanted churches to accept them as human beings and understand them before they take any decision.
“It is a humble request from the community to the church leaders to accept us first as human being as we can also live the way people live in a normal life.”
“The judgment of the Supreme Court is a big relief because when we say the word gay and the colour of flag is colourful and gay means happy,” he said.
 “In Shillong, I could see lots of improvement because people always accept us the way we are except few people with few mentality that happens everywhere. I will love to tell parents to accept them the way they are because who wants to put themselves in trouble as being gay we are always discriminated,” he said.
He also lamented on the lack of awareness about intersex and said most of the time people do not understand when it comes to sexuality.
“Intersex means they are born both with female and male genital. Now we want to create awareness with health department to inform us when such babies are being born for us to have counselling with parents in order to let the child decide,” Blah said.
Meanwhile, Janet, a transgender and a queer activist said that it was a momentous day for all of them because the Supreme Court has decriminalise 377 IPC.
“We are so happy in our homes and seeing other people in Delhi and other cities they are celebrating this news. This is the first step towards our liberation and we want people to find solidarity with people like us because growing up belonging to the community we feel very lonely at times and also in schools and colleges, we used to get harassed and faced violence,” she said.
She said that for a long time, they have faced the fear of going out in public places like dressing up or expressing their gender or sexuality.
“It was a great fear especially in a small town like Shillong but thankfully the SC has showed support for humanity and also for equal rights and I hope this will allow us to take further steps on creating laws to protect our community and our people as well our children like anti-bullying laws,” she said.
Stating that the statement made recently was really disheartening that they don’t recognize third gender, Janet however said, “Now the judgement has recognized us we hope that through this decriminalization of this outdated law it will help us to progress and create awareness and programme in Shillong. I hope people here will also learn how to be tolerant and how to be loving towards one another and accept us even though we are different.”
Earlier, the district administration has turned down the request for permission sought by the LGBTQ community to hold get together at Police Bazaar citing due to the present fluid law and order situation.
Due to this, they had to shift the celebration to Don Bosco Square, Laitumkhrah.
The SC in a landmark judgement had scrapped section 377 and decriminalized gay sex.


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