Tanuja Joshi|Sep 22, 2023
'Constitutional wheel of life broken for us': 52 LGBT groups in IITs, IIMs,NITs, IISERs in open letter to CJI
Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Case: The LGBTQIA+ groups include ones in IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay, IISER Pune, IISER Mohali, NIT Surathkal, BHU, IIM Ahmedabad, UoH.
NEW DELHI: Fifty-two queer collective groups across various colleges and universities have written an open letter to DY Chandrachud, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court, to take cognisance of the status of LGBTQIA+ persons and recognise the right to marry and form a family irrespective of their class, caste, gender, sexuality and others in line with Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
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The institutes whose collective have endorsed the letter include Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, Bombay, Kanpur, Guwahati, Dhanbad; Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune, Mohali, Kolkata branches; Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (BITS Pilani); Delhi Technological University; Indian Institute of Science Bangalore; Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University (RMLNLU), Lucknow; Panjab University, Chandigarh; Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore and a few others.
The letter said, "The constitutional wheel of life is broken for us." It added that the community’s education is reduced to a survival mechanism to evade or opt out of social humiliation and violence at homes, schools, colleges, workplaces and public spaces.
“Our plight in our educational system is not disjointed from the question of marriage or family as a legal non-recognition of our right to marry and right to (chosen) family reinforces the idea that we are social deviants and experience the social impact of it in our schools, colleges and universities,” said Vaivab Das, research scholar and a member of LGBTQIA+ collective Indradhanu at IIT Delhi.
The letter stated that trans-queer persons navigate a life of double standards. “We have to pass as cis-gendered and heterosexual to survive identity-based discrimination in our educational system - we read books that call us deviants, hear professors who chide us on our difference, peers who make us scripts of their jokes and administration who reduces us as human problems,” said the letter.
The letter comes after six days of hearing on same-sex marriage in supreme court.
Here’s the complete text of open letter by LGBTQIA+ Collectives
LGBTQIA+ Collective Open Letter
We, the students and members of different LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and others) Collectives across various Colleges and Universities in India, urge the Supreme Court to take cognisance of the status of LGBTQIA+ persons and recognise the right to marry and the right to family for every individual, irrespective of their class, caste, race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion and disability in line with Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
Currently, India has the largest population in the world, who are in their formative years, going to schools and colleges to learn. Our shared experiences of learning in these educational avenues are not linked by the enjoyment of fundamental rights (equality, life with dignity, etc) but by being objects of passive and active forms of homophobia, transphobia, and queerphobia that transcend the overview of statutory guidelines on ragging, bullying, discrimination and various other institutional support (if any). Schools and Colleges as primary sites of socialisation, beyond the family, become the first public spaces for an individual to understand what it feels to be a right-bearing individual, and to first-hand experience social stigma.
In 2011, the Census identified 54,854 transgender children in the age group of 0–6 years (most likely an underestimation), less than 0.0001% of these children completed their schooling. Trans-queer persons navigate a life of double standards, where we have to pass as cis-gendered and heterosexual to survive identity-based discrimination in our educational system - we read books that call us deviants, hear professors who chide us on our difference, peers who make us scripts of their jokes and administration who reduces us as human problems. The emergence of so many LGBTQIA+ collectives in the past years is a testament to the failure of the State in actively making space, starting conversations, and sustaining support systems to aid trans-queer students and their human development. People collectivise when those in power refuse to help. In the absence of any robust anti-discriminatory law for the LGBTQIA+ communities post NALSA vs UoI 2014 and Navtej Singh Johar vs. UoI 2019, we turn from the State to peers and partners to socially exist. We nurture and carve out our own constitutional spaces of equality, freedom and association in spite of legal non-recognition. We live an extra-legal life!
The Constitutional promise of the Supreme Court of India in NALSA vs UoI 2014 and Navtej Singh Johar vs UoI 2019 of recognition, equality, dignity and privacy remains incomplete in view of the double standards that the State and its law create for us. Our education is reduced to a survival mechanism to evade or opt out of social humiliation and violence at homes, schools, colleges, workplaces and public spaces. The constitutional wheel of life is broken for us.
Today, we ask the highest court of the land to intervene and recognise our life’s work of finding love and acceptance under the right to personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The law-making system of the largest and most plural nation refuses to recognise non-heternormative marriages, partnerships and chosen families. This act formally pushes us back into violent and toxic spheres of family and schools/colleges who invest in our social ostracisation, correctional therapy, house arrest, and institutionalised deaths.
We come together to demand an equal and dignified life as envisaged under the Constitution of India.
Indradhanu, the LGBTQIA+ Collective of IIT Delhi
Saathi, the Queer Collective of IIT Bombay
Swikriti LGBTQIA+ Collective of IIT BHU, Varanasi
Unmukt, the gender and sexual diversity forum of IIT Kanpur
Astitva, the LGBTQIA+ Collective of IIT Dhanbad
Lambda, the LGBTQIA+ Collective of IIT Guwahati
Vannam, the Queer Collective of IIT Madras
Qagaar, the Queer Collective of IIT Roorkee
Ambar, the Queer Collective of IIT Kharagpur
Orenda, Gender and Sexuality Club of IIT Gandhinagar
Satrangi, the LGBTQIA+ Collective of IISER Pune
Anchor, the Gender and Sexuality Cell of BITS Pilani
Samatva, the Queer Collective of DTU (Delhi)
IIScQ, the Queer Collective of IISc (Bangalore) and 38 others
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