RVA’s Day of Rage Supports India’s LGBTQ Population, Makes it on Buzzfeed
All photos via Geeta Jhaveri and Sonali Gulati
A world-wide display against India’s re-criminalization of sodomy took place Sunday afternoon, and Richmond VA was there to show support.
The event, GLOBAL DAY OF RAGE-RICHMOND, VA, was organized by local activists who were outraged over the decision made by India’s highest court.
Sonali Gulati, an Associate Professor at VCU in the Photography and Film Department, was one of the organizers of the event here in Richmond. She’s also from India and a lesbian. “I had a personal investment in organizing this event,” said Gulati. She goes back to India every year, and she’s seen the community there change since the law was lifted in July of 2009.
“Between 2009 and now, gay people definitely felt much safer in the sense that they knew it was not a criminal offense to be gay,” said Gulati. “And in these last 4 years, a lot of people came out as result of that.” But now activists say the reinstatement of this law will increase harassment of LGBTQ people. But they’re not going without a fight.
Gulati said she felt restless since reading about the law, and when friends back home were organizing Day of Rage events around the globe, she knew she had to get involved. When international organizers asked for help, Gulati put her hand up to offer help. “I reached out to everyone I knew in Richmond and asked them to invite other people… we tried to organize this in 48 hours, but I was amazed by the turn out.”
Young, old, men, women, trans people; there was a diversity present at the event according to Gulati. “It was really nice to see people from so many backgrounds.”
Calling the event a “Day of Rage” was not an accident. Organizers are truly outraged over the treatment of their LGBTQ friends in India.
“It’s outrageous to think the Supreme Court would actually allow this to happen in India,” said Gulati. But she said the law doesn’t just affect LGBTQ people, it affects straight people too. “Anyone who is engaging in any sexual act outside of penal-vaginal intercourse is considered a criminal. Someone could be having oral sex and thats considered a criminal offense.”
Gulati said it was important to have an event like this here in Richmond, and she hopes it makes the impacts at the state level. “It becomes even more significant when people in the South, like the state of VA with so many homophobic laws. There is something very significant about having this kind of solidarity taking place in a city like Richmond, VA.”
The Global Day of Rage events around the world were united by a series of issues they say will arise from the return of this law, here’s the list via the press release for the event:
- That the Supreme Court of India on December 11, 2013 set aside the July 2009 Delhi High Court judgment
which decriminalised consensual sex between adults in private, effectively re-criminalising all lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender and queer Indians and reduced them to the status of ‘unapprehended felons’
- That the Supreme Court has betrayed its own progressive history of extending rights for all by taking away
rights from Indian citizens with this judgment.
- That the Supreme Court has failed to live up to its role as the protector of rights for all citizens without
discrimination, as guaranteed by one of the world’s most progressive texts — the Indian Constitution
- That the Supreme Court has thus betrayed the fundamental constitutional promise that the dignity of all
citizens would be recognised and that equal treatment is a non negotiable element of the world’s largest
democracy, thereby shredding the very principles it has sworn itself to uphold.
- That the Supreme Court has criminalised all consensual sexual acts that do not involve penile-vaginal
penetration. This applies to all people, irrespective of their gender identity or sexual orientation, including
heterosexual people and not just LGBT Indians.
- That the Supreme Court has empowered blackmailers, bullies and homophobes who will now find easy
victims in LGBT people whose rights have been denied.
- That the Supreme Court has encouraged corporations and companies to discriminate against their LGBT
staff and discouraged those few companies which moved after the Delhi High Court judgment to ensure non
discrimination against LGBT staff within their organisations.
- That the Supreme Court can use the phrase ‘miniscule minorities’ to dismiss the rights of LGBT people,
thus ignoring the spirit of inclusiveness which is at the heart of the Indian Constitution. The size of a minority
is irrelevant, what matters is that every member of it, every Indian citizen has an equal right to protection
granted by our Fundamental Rights and it is the SC’s duty to enforce this, not throw it away.
Following the event, photos from the Richmond demonstration made it onto Buzzfeed’s list of cities that participated in the Day of Rage (number 54) – Richmond was part of over 40 cities that participated in the event.
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