As the repealment of the controversial Section 377 marks the dawn of a new era in India in the history of LGBTQ rights and collective human dignity and freedom, the focus has intensified on over coming social stigma to grant these people the basic human rights to privacy and security that they have been denied for so long. As a certain section of the nation struggles to come to terms with this over ruling of what is viewed as nature’s law, the challenges will be huge and the consequences complex, yet it is the utmost need of the hour that rights related to the life and existence of homosexual people are recognised and respected.
Indeed, the movement for granting equal status and upholding the dignity of people belonging to the gay fraternity is not a recent phenomenon. For decades now, such associations have been in existence and such activists have been actively involved in fighting for the issue. And yet now, with the focus on LGBTQ community embarking on a parallel dimension that is in sync with world notions as a whole, the movement has only intensified and more and more acceptance of the issue is being witnessed.
More than two decades from the present, there has been a NGO in Mumbai, the financial capital of the country that has been working relentlessly for the welfare of this marginalised section of the society. Humsafar Trust was set up way back in 1994 by an Indian writer and LGBT rights activist Ashok Row Kavi with the intention of providing health services pertaining to HIV/AIDS to the homosexual people.
One of the largest among the organisations that has been mostly active in pursuit of its life of dignity and prejudice for the people with alternative sexualities, Humsafar Trust is also an initiative with a difference- from providing counselling, advocacy and healthcare to LGBT communities to working relentlessly to reduce violence, discrimination and stigma against them, the Trust has done it all.
A convenor member of the Integrated Network for Sexual Minorities (INFOSEM), the only national level network of sexual minorities that has 196 community based organisations representing Lesbian, Gay, Kothi, MSM, bisexual and Transgender communities of the society, Humsafar Trust (HST) has also set up set up a National Online Resource Center named CONNECT to connect LGBTQ communities worldwide.
HST has also been actively involved in generating public awareness about the acceptance of homosexuals as dignified, indispensible members of the society through a number of socio- cultural endeavors like organising an LGBT film festival in Mumbai, nurturing a youth LGBT group YAARIYAN, while also being associated with LGBT support groups UMANG and SANJEEVANI.
In what it has been doing to uphold and uplift the people who happen to love differently but want to live all the same, Humsafar Trust is undoubtedly a venture that deserves kudos for its efforts. Indeed, the Supreme Court’s decision to over turn the ban on homosexuality as a way of life and preference is also a celebration of such organisations like HST which has been actively engaged in the quest for reforming Indian society and mindset for good.