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Mera Desh? Meri Soch.



In September 2018, Section 377 of the Indian penal code, criminalizing same-sex relationships, was read down. Though it was decriminalized, many Indians, especially youth, feel afraid to express their feelings due to friends, families, and societal pressures. Youth often skip classes

and even sometimes drop out of school because of the fear of being bullied and teased, teachers often don't know how to deal with situations like this and sometimes even participate. In urban India, there are many social activist groups, organizations, and online communities spreading awareness about LGBTQ rights, which helped section 377 be read down. Though these groups are helpful to communities, they mostly focus more on ending discrimination against gay men and don't bring light to many other important situations, especially in rural areas. In rural India, gay men are often planned to be killed and run away from families and

communities to a new place with no money and support. Lesbian women are subjected to

corrective rape often performed by or initiated by close family and relatives. Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, a transwoman LGBT activist and public policy scholar at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, has openly spoken about her abuse at school and about how women and transmen end up at the bottom of the hierarchy when it comes to basic human rights. She says that Village medics and babas often prescribe rape to cure lesbians of homosexuality. She also talks about how refusal to marry brings more mental and physical abuse.

Even in Urban India, where homosexuality is considered much more acceptable, lesbian

suicides are quite common with their own family being the immediate cause. Many people from well-respected families are afraid to come out of the closet because of fear of parental reaction, loss of jobs, friends, etc. Parents and families often force their children to act heterosexual to keep their family name and societal standard. In a society bound by a rigid set of social and cultural norms that dictate the terms and conditions of education, career, and marriage, the lack of family support can prove to be a big blow to the mental and physical health of the LGBT+ community. Even with families who accept their sexuality restrictions are still going to face the harshness of Indian society. There are many

groups and online platforms out there trying to be there for these people, but family and

community support is very important, not only in India but worldwide.

-Ankitha Ganesan

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