Monthly Archives: April 2009

Some moments with Tanvir Alim

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Tanvir Alim a prominent Gay Rights Activist from Bangladesh shares his views on the mindset of the Homosexuals in this pre-dominantly Islamic society. He also gives a vivid description about the contribution of BoB towards educating the gays about their rights and aspirations.

Ashok Deb: Dear Tanvir tell me about your association with BOB

Tanvir: I was basically an inactive member of BoB. Few BOB well wishers cajoled me to be active way back in 2005, but I refrained being scared of disclosing my sexual identity. The prevailing Homophobia in society and office created an invisible wall which prevented me to COME OUT.

Ashok Deb: and then what happened?

Tanvir: Later at a certain stage I felt isolated and lonely in this homophobic society and decided to come closer to like-minded people.  I started meeting BoB members in different offline events and found them to be quite friendly and helpful. Sharing my feelings with them was of great relief which I could not communicate with my colleagues, family or classmates. The homely atmosphere of the community inspired me to COME OUT and subsequently work for it.

Ashok Deb: When I talked to Himadri last time, he said that it is quite difficult to make people COME OUT and proclaim their sexual identity. Even after COMING OUT rarely people opts to be an activist. So what is the journey of yours into Gay rights activism?

Tanvir: Absolutely right. At a certain point of time an individual feels that it’s not worth enough to conceal his sexual identity, and at that time he COMES OUT. I found BoB community to be very co-operative which ultimately convinced me to become a volunteer. Initially I advised BoB on concepts of event management and now as an activist and moderator I’m whole heartedly associated with BoB.

Ashok Deb: I think Bangladesh has a higher percentage of Homosexuals than other countries. Some studies have indicated that about 10 percent of the total population may belong to the category of SEXUAL MINORITY taking their count to about 18 million. Still the gay and lesbian community is virtually visible, as people rarely comes out.

Tanvir: No idea about the statistics, but I feel in Dhaka the rate of Bisexual people is increasing. Secondly there is a significant category [I am not aware if there is a suitable term for them. If not, we should make one J] who are gay and later they get married succumbing to social pressures. After marriage still they claim themselves as gay and not bisexuals. These two categories were not identified in the statistics I presume.

Ashok Deb: Why does so few of the Bangladeshis decide to Come out?

Tanvir: I have knowledge of some people who CAME OUT but generally homosexuals lack strong self-confidence, determination and visionary thoughts [actually the correct wordings would be "some people are hopeless", even though I don't want to use the phrase] and hence can’t sustain the social approbations. Societal pressures, family bondings, poor skills of managing a crisis, lack of self-confidence, religious beliefs are the main obstacles to COMING OUT. I want to quote a line here.

I often ask people, “Why don’t you be a member of BoB?”

The reply is always, “ki dorker.” I repeat, “Ki dorker” [What's the need of that?]

The general perception of the homosexuals is “I can get what I need physically without socializing with the community. So why do I need to get in to a coming out hassle?”

If you consider our economy,Bangladesh operates barely at basic levels of survival. Earning a livelihood is the sole priority of an individual and neither are the sexual minorities much concerned about their social bonding, mental needs or community building. In this situation proclaiming his sexual identity or activism is a cock and bull story even among the Gay community, let alone lesbians and others. The consequences of COMING OUT for lesbian in a society like ours is beyond imagination. Hijras and Kothis are OUT in a way but people’s perception towards them is quite shocking. I presume that Bangladeshi Gays opts a path of least social resistance, ridiculing and approbations and hence they get married. In my opinion it’s not the Gays who are solely responsible but also the social structure, taboos, and religious mindset which acts as a barrier to COMING OUT. But I’m optimistic that things will change soon.

Ashok Deb: So the norm in Bangladesh is that ALL GAYS HAVE TO GET MARRIED to avoid social scrutiny

Tanvir: I would like to say the norm in Bangladesh is that ALL GUYS AND GIRLS HAVE TO GET MARRIED to avoid social scrutiny J.The rule applies even to straight people too.

Ashok Deb: yes……I have been watching the transformation of BOB , which early acted just a meeting point of Dhaka Gays is transforming itself as one of the premier Gay activist centre in the country.

Tanvir: Yes, but few are supporting the concept where majority thinks it still not the right time and is unnecessary. I personally enjoy the transformation as a gift of time.

Ashok Deb: Even the same feelings echoed with my conversation with Himadri, who told that people wants to use BOB more as a Gay meeting place

Tanvir:  Earlier members used it as a cruising site but things are changing. Lots of appreciation, suggestions, ideas as well as criticisms towards activism are appearing on the message board. Initially the general members may not approve of this TRANSFORMATIONS but I believe it will have an impact in changing their mindset and will contribute in awareness building. You may have already noticed that some people have found BoB message board as their room to give independent opinion which I feel is very positive.

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Ashoka Deb: So what BOB is doing to help the homosexuals come out and recognise their sexual orientation

Tanvir: Well, BoB is working very strategically and with caution. Initially BoB Management arranges get-togethers, hang-outs and picnics. When the new members feel comfortable with BoB volunteers and understand that we can be relied upon, they start keeping in touch [Community Building] and at a certain level, community develops. In this development process it helps people to recognize their sexual orientation and some people do COME OUT.

Ashoka Deb: Generally I feel that there should be more visibility of the homosexual community and that cant be achieved if people don’t come out.

Tanvir: You are right that there should be more visibility of the homosexual community, and truly it cant be achieved if people don’t come out. But the closeted trend so far and the hesitations to COME OUT reflects that the members are not comfortable with the concepts of coming out and visibility. Even the online message board is saying the same regarding activism. While arranging some events, I found people are more still prefers meeting someone in private , rather in an event. I was often asked in online chats,Are you very open? I don’t prefer too open people to meet.” Even my X boy friend was discouraging me sometimes to attend BoB meetings frequently though he was open to his parents. If you add all, the abstract is – people do not encourage this coming out and visibility right at this moment. There are lots of factors, variables, misperception, and politics working behind it. I believe, let them take their time and come out naturally. I think we need some more time to establish our own visibility.

Ashoka Deb: It means still we are not even near to push for same sex rights in the country.Right??

Tanvir: Yes, I don’t think it’s the right time. The recent crowd are not ready for it.But I strongly believe that we should start the ground work for the same sex rights. Finding our  identity, coming out, relationships, social bonding, relying on each other are dependent on this.

Ashoka Deb: Is BOB taking any steps of awaring the society that Homosexuality is not a sin but a natural phenomenon

Tanvir: Yes Bob is doing it in a very strategic ways. The events are the best solutions I felt, the film shows, the hang outs, workshop, training seems initially fun but deep inside it is giving the message to the people - Homosexuality is not a sin but a natural phenomenon and come out with your identity. You are what you are. There is nothing to feel shy or hide and you are not alone. We are here with you.

Besides while arranging events, we generally inform the venue owners about the crowd. Often there are heterosexual peoples  whom BoB never restricts , so the message in a way goes out.

Ashoka Deb: I heard that last few years in Dhaka Book Fair there was few gay affirming literatures

Tanvir: Yes, there are books like Prantiki, Iraq er Diary and some others. Some other writers a re-working on it I know. I hope there will be more reviews on these books so these issues can come to the lime light.

Ashoka Deb: Even BOB has written many Gay affirming letters to the dailies for granting rights for the sexual minorities, aint it?

Tanvir: In Daily Star there were submission of letters and debates on homosexuality in 2006. It was quoted that even though homosexuality has been omitted from the psychological disorder list but in Bangladesh we are still under Sociatal and Governmental pressure as it is  perceived more of a perversion.

There was a telecast at ETV on THIRD GENDER where our friend Katha Apa speaks on the issue. Last month I was watching a documentary at Goethe Institute “Reflection” based on MSM populations. One of our friends has prepared an article for Bangla newspapers which I was reading the other day. I admit that things are a bit scattered but still in progress.

Ashoka Deb: That’s good. Tell me about your new publication

Tanvir: Well, during my early days in this community, I heard lots of efforts for a publication but  it never came out.So I took up the challenge and started working for it. Our major objective is to reach the general community people who can not access the internet or read English. That’s the sole reason we have opted to publish it in Bengali.

Ashoka Deb: Is it a work by the gays…..or FOR the gays

Tanvir: It’s on Sexual diversity. The contents cover homophobia and lesbians, articles on personalities, dialogues between Hijra community, community news, book reviews, interviews, travel etc both from Bangladesh and Kolkata. Now we are working on photos, classified ads, quotations, cartoons etc. You can say it is a collaborative work by the sexually diversified people to all. On the other hand a straight person can read it and have an impression or awareness about sexual diversity

Ashoka Deb: Is it a little magazine or a full fledged BOOK

Tanvir: It’s going to be a twenty page mag and will be published every four months.

Ashoka Deb: So its more of a BOB mouthpiece or in other words the voice of sexual minorities of Bangladesh

Tanvir: The Voice of sexual minorities of Bangladesh. We initially asked for the write ups at BoB message boards. Besides messages were put up at Bombay-Dost and kolkata_ gayindiansmeetingpoint message boards too. There were oral communications to our friends. The response came that way. Here I want to mention a point

Ashoka Deb: Yes

Tanvir: The content of the publication is the people’s voice, which may not go with the motto, moral, mission or vision of BoB

Ashoka Deb: I could conceive it……so the appeal or target audience is the homosexual community.Right?

T:anvir Yes, you can say sexually diversified bangla speaking people who does not have internet access or cannot read English.

Ashoka Deb: and where did u get the funding from

Tanvir: No funding so far.

Ashoka Deb: But have you guys approached any international Gay Rights Agencies for fundings of your activities

Tanvir: We can easily get funds but in that case we may have to compromise with our morals. For example, now I identify myself as a male homosexual, in that case may be I have to call myself an MSM. But still we are thinking of this issue. If we can get a fund with comfortable guidelines, which could really help us to bring a creative communication.

Ashoka Deb: Yes funds do come with guidelines, fortunately or unfortunately.

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Ashoka Deb: I know that BOB generally prescribes people to Jagory for voluntary blood testing

Tanvir: Yes, from our experience they proved to be the most homo friendly, educated, reliable and cheap. To them BoB has a certain image which is reflected in their service.

Ashoka deb: If I may summarize, BoB have an aids awareness program, workshops on sexual diversity and its own publication.

Tanvir: Regarding HIV, we generally distribute safe sex manuals and had voluntary HIV testing. But our main work area is rights activism. At present there is a training program in progress on Gender, sexuality and rights. We have a good coalition with other people like lesbians, bisexuals, Hijras etc and organizations who are working on this with that we are participating in some national and international workshops. We are planning for the next phase of our organizations. If we can become an organization in near future, we have plan to document the rights violations in Bangladesh, special campaign to remove homophobia etc. There are loads of on line and off line activities in the pipe line that are about to come

Ashoka Deb: Did BoB ever send any representation to the government about Gay rights

Tanvir: There are some ground works in progress from our end where some other organizations are also involved.

Ashoka Deb: Now as a journalist I hate to ask this question. I was in Bangladesh and so I am aware of the volatile political situation and the influence of Jamaat and Islamic Unity Alliance in Bangladesh scene. Recently The Islamic Ain Bastobayaon Samiti is pressing for Sharia Law ,which was hithero unknown in our society and scrapping of all development projects by UN. Do you fear that at one time your visibility will be a problem for you?

Tanvir: When we plan for something, we keep that in mind. Even in small get together we have to think of security measures. It will be a problem for sure, but we have to fight. Jamayet is a threat for progressive thinkers let alone us.

Ashoka Deb: Later when the community increases in numbers and starts fighting for its rights, there may be persecutions. Does that make you people  less confident?

Tanvir: We are not. There were prosecutions as well as compromise with them before.  So are we supposed to sit idle thinking of that?

Ashoka Deb: its great to have this conversation with you. It will be posted in BOB page of LGBT Bangladesh

Tanvir: I enjoyed talking to you a lot. For further details or clarification readers can e-mail me anytime. thecrowbd@yahoo.com

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Report: Iraqi Militia Killing Gay Men with Painful Anal Glue Torture

http://www.towleroad.com/2009/04/report-iraqi-militia-killing-gay-men-with-painful-form-of-anal-torture.html

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission writes: “The following is a translation of a story from Alarabiya, a UAE-based media network, which was published on its Arabic website a few hours ago. While IGLHRC has not verified all of the allegations, many are consistent with patterns of human rights violations being reported from within the country.”

Sadrcity 

“A prominent Iraqi human rights activist says that Iraqi militia have deployed a painful form of torture against homosexuals by closing their anuses using ‘Iranian gum.’ … Yina Mohammad told Alarabiya.net that, ‘Iraqi militias have deployed an unprecedented form of torture against homosexuals by using a very strong glue that will close their anus.’ According to her, the new substance ‘is known as the American hum, which is an Iranian-manufactured glue that if applied to the skin, sticks to it and can only be removed by surgery. After they glue the anuses of homosexuals, they give them a drink that causes diarrhea. Since the anus is closed, the diarrhea causes death. Videos of this form of torture are being distributed on mobile cellphones in Iraq.’ According to this human rights activist, for the past 3 weeks a crackdown on homosexuals has been going on based on a religious decree that demands their death; dozens have been targeted. She says that the persecution of homosexuals is not confined to the Shiite clerics. Some Sunni leaders have also declared the death penalty for sodomy on satellite channels.”

Earlier today I posted disturbing BBC video of a young Iraqi man being forced to strip at a police stop for wearing women’s clothes, as well as reports of fliers being posted around Baghdad’s Sadr City (above) threatening death to homosexuals.

The BBC posted disturbing video of what they say is a young Iraqi gay man being forced to strip at a police post for wearing women’s clothes.

Iraqi Watch the report, AFTER THE JUMP

They report that these sorts of videos are circulated on mobile phones in the country: “The sobbing boy, who appears to be about 12, tries to explain that his family made him do it to earn money, as they have no other source of income. The scene, apparently filmed in a police post, reinforced reports of a campaign against gay men in Iraq which activists say has claimed the lives of more than 60 since December.”

The L.A. Times reports that fliers have been posted around Sadr City in eastern Baghdad threatening death to homosexuals:

“‘If you don’t cease your perverted acts, you will get your fair punishment,’ read the warnings, which were posted on walls on a variety of streets around the neighborhood. On some were scrawled the names of two or three local men suspected of being gay, says one resident, who estimates he saw about 15 names in all. The fliers were signed by a previously unknown group calling itself the Platoons of Righteousness. In addition, graffiti reading ‘we will get you, puppies’ — a derogatory Iraqi term for gays — was sprayed on walls in red paint. Residents said the fliers and graffiti were removed after a few hours, though it wasn’t clear by whom.”

I’ve reposted the BBC report, AFTER THE JUMP

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THE PINK MIRROR – Gulabi Aina

THE PINK MIRROR

Pink MirrorMen bring out the best in queens… and sometimes the worst.
When two bitchy drag queens and a sly gay teenager lust after a handsome hunk… can seduction, jealousy and cunning be far behind? A hilarious comedy replete with bitchiness and camp humour set a la Bollywood. Apart from being a drag romp, the film is an exposition of the Indian gay / transgender landscape, the humanly tender bonds between drag queens in India who form unique, non-patriarchal families and the lurking impact of HIV/AIDS.

The film draws interesting comparisons between indigenous Indian Drag Queens who are a vanishing clan and the contemporary young gays of Bombay city’s queer culture with borrowed western gay identity. Awards This underground indie film has been dubbed a cult film for being the first ever Indian film to reach so far and wide, offering a peep into the darkly closeted Indian homosexual world with empathy and sensitivity.  Official Website: www.solarispictures.com/ga.htm gay indian hunk BANNED in India because of its homosexual content, the film has received tremendous recognition and appreciation at 62 international film festivals around the world and has been feted with several awards including Jury Award for Best Feature at Fire Island Film Festival, New York and Best Film of the Festival award (Le Prix Comtesse des Flandres) at Le Festival Question de Genre de Lille, France.     Renowned Universities have added the film to their archives / library an using it as resource material in their academic courses like Gender, Nation and the World; Activist Voices in India; Gender and Film course.   Film DVDs available at
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The End of Homophobia

by Rahul ~ October 29th, 2008. Filed under: Analysis.

At the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, the conservative senator Stephen Douglas wielded racist sentiment like a katana. Lincoln was rather ambivalent toward the issue of slavery, only opposing it because of the instability of the slave system. Nevertheless, Douglas capitalized on the prejudices of the American public of the age, and went as far as to say that Lincoln was…

anti-slavery?

150 years ago, abolitionism was a radical fringe movement. In the white-centric society, few stood up for the rights of the slave-drivers’ “property”.

Even 50 years ago, civil rights took center stage. In the conservative former slave-states, previously unquestionable Black codes and Jim Crow laws that dominated the scene for a hundred years were put into question.

Now, of course, we live in a world where racial equality is a basic right guaranteed under the law (unfortunately, not always in practice). The thought of racial discrimination is worrisome for most, and slavery is positively repulsive. Scientific advances, such as the elucidation of inheritance principles, have morphed our society into one where discrimination on the basis of immutable genetic traits is unjust. Race is one of these genetic trates, mental capacity is another, and disease is a third.

Stepping back for a second, we can see that societies tend to become more liberal as time goes on. Discrimination based on race and other genetic factors, once considered part of the natural order, is now more or less gone (or at worst, not publicly displayed).

Today’s main civil rights debate is that of sexual orientation. Homosexuality in ages past was (and in some places, still is) taboo. Homosexuals have historically been discriminated against with society’s most brutal treatments – ostracization, and in some cases, reeducation or execution.

Clearly, the treatment of homosexuals has improved exponentially over the past few decades. However, there is one hurdle remaining to complete equality: marriage.

The trump card for advocates of homosexual rights – and therefore, civil rights – is slowly being revealed, though. Scientists studying the Drosophila fruit fly last year found that they could turn homosexuality on and off by modifying a gene. While the results are only preliminary, they do suggest that homosexuality has a genetic basis. Hopefully, as further research is done into this, it will strike the death blow for anti-gay marriage campaigns. If homosexuality really is genetic (which, judging by these results, it does seem to be), then discrimination of any kind by virtue of sexual orientation will die.

Nevertheless, as time goes on, chances are, all opposition to gay and lesbian rights will phase out, regardless of scientific study. If past history is any indicator, then as history progresses, we will see society slowly progress as well. Harmful tradition and prejudice are always fighting a losing battle against time. Though conservatives might be able to delay the inevitable, the truth – everything that is right and just – will always go marching on.

Stay tuned over the next week for my take on a hilariously misguided campaign: “Protect Marriage”, which aims to ban gay marriage in California.

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When You Should Come Out of the Closet?

Should you come out to your family about your sexual orientation or personal beliefs about religion(such as Agnosticism or Atheism or conversion to another religion)?
Honestly I think yes.But only after you have achieved such a status in your life that you can support yourself ably even when your family has kicked you out,for there are a great many chances of happening so.
There is nothing wrong in being an Atheist or turning away fromyour religion,if you feel that another stance or religion is better.There nothing wrong with you being homosexual or even pansexual .But try not to open up to your family when you are quite dependent upon them.There are advantages of coming out of the closet as well as disadvantages,for has there been anything with no side-effects and benefits,in this world?
Its better if you try to conceal your religious convictions or sexuality while you are financially dependent upon your family.They may kick you out and you may have no place to give yourself a shelter.
Once you have achieved the basic necessities of life such a wealth and education,you can then come out of the closet and proclaim yourself whatever you want,for then even if you family kciks you out you have a shelter to hide under and independence.

Till then you should try to:

1:Complete your education.
2:Open up to our close friends who you believe love you unconditionally.
3:Meet/Contact like minded people and try to converse with them as to how you should come out.
4:Join some communities in which you are sure your information will be kept confidential.
5:Be in peace with your religious convictions/sexuality and religion/yourself.
6:Try to educate other people about your stance,but be sure that they don’t rise against you for holding such an opinion or your sexuality.

Ashok Deb: This post was published in Humanistblog.blogspot.com

http://myhumanistblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/when-you-should-come-out-of-closet.html

by a Palistani free-thinker

This is how he describes himself

About Me

My Photo

The Humanist
I am Agnostic and recognize myself as a humanist,and even Secular Muslim.That means that even if I am an ex-Muslim,I still practise some Muslim beleifs that I feel are humanistic,such as Zakat and I would love to marry like a Muslim.I am Muslim,socially,not religiously. Other than that,I am blunt and blatant enough to express myself in any way I feel I should,as long as I am not being a simpleton and when it comes to my morality.

Ashok Deb: This is his experience of Coming out for the First time

http://myhumanistblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/coming-out-of-dark-closet.html

Coming Out Of The Dark Closet…..

Me and my mother,like sometimes we did and do,went for a walk in the park together.My mother has gone through alot because of me,but has never stopped loving me.Unlike others,who leave or loathe their parents for not accepting their orientation,my love for my mother is unconditional(until and unless she’s not telling me that I should sacrifice anyone else for her…haha).So, aswe were walking around in the park,we had a desultory talk in which she explained to me that I could tell her anything,since she’s already been through so much because of me.I took this opportunity and explained to her that I might have attarction towards women and men both.At that time I wasnt sure if I was gay or bisexual.And also I told her that I was having doubts about Islam.She was,obiously,disappointed.And tried to overlook the reality.She explained that this feeling that I was having towards my own gender would go away and it should be just a platonic one.To establish her point she went on to tell me that in her class there used to be these girls who used to cry for teachers and loved them because they were their favourite.Her desperation to somehow turn be staright was palpable.But I wasnt going to,since I couldnt.I gave her an immense amount of good research,over the time,in favour of homosexuality.I even tried to change her mind b introducing her to ijtihad(Islamic free reasoning) and that using it,Islam and Homosexuality could be reconciliated.But no! She wouldnt accept anything and turned her deaf ear to all my exlanation which I gave her every now and then.Then one day I recieved the email that my brother had sent me from Glasgow to give me an elder brother’s advise on how to be aware of those disgusting homosexuals,since I was moving to an all-boy’s school from co-education.I took this opportunity to tell him the truth about my bisexuality,which he didnt like either.Since then my whole family knows(maybe excluding one of my sisters,since she’s married and wasnt there when all of this happened).One of my sister think I am gay and that there’s no difference between bisexuals and gays and she even makes fun of my orientation and taunts me when we have a fight.My whole family is homophobiac.And my mother think gays are hijras(eunuchs),thanks to the media,especially that Nadia Khan of the Nadia Khan Show,who is one hell of an extremist.But I have decided.I have to stand for my orientation,even if it means leaving my family,although I’ll be a zombie without their love and them.Millions of people have gone through,are going through and will go through because of homophobia,misunderstanding of connotation of the owrd ‘gay’,and lack of education and tolerance.I have to be their voice.At this time anonymously ,maybe.But one day I’ll have a name and a title which will be able to influence others.And I’ll use it influence people and spread tolerance towards LGBT community,Hopefully….And anyway, I have always been giving my voice to minority,like secularists and repressed religious minorities of Pakistan,so why not my own community.Even if it mean my own life,because its better that I get killed than be frightened to death by these intolerant Mullahs and stupid and idiotic taboos of our society.My freedom from my Pakistani society or even my life for the freedom of others means nothing less to me then what Koran and Bible mean to Muslims and Christians ,repectively.The purpose to narrate my story here is not to scar you from coming out.But to encourage you.Even Hitler had his supporters.So be content with you orientation and stop worrying about what others will think,because if you’ll lose them it’ll be for your own betterment,since you’ll find others,who’ll be ready to accept your orientation as a part of you.Its not the quantity but the quality of you family which matters.And sometimes its better to leave the family that created you to create a family yourself,for the liberation of others and yourself.But the choice is yours.I am always here to be your friend and advise you and help you.Thank You


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India – Eunuchs avoid polls over ‘third sex’ dilemma

India – Eunuchs avoid polls over ‘third sex’ dilemma Print No Entry
NineMSN
Sun, 19 Apr 2009 13:24 UTC

© Associated Press
Eunuchs pose for photographs before participating in Miss Koovagam, a beauty contests among the Eunuchs at VilupuramIndia’s one million eunuchs face a unique dilemma every election season – do they stand in the men’s or women’s queue at polling stations or stay away altogether?

In the past, eunuchs – the term used for cross-dressers, pre- and post-operative transsexuals known here as hijras – have largely abstained from casting their ballots because they are unwilling to identify themselves as male or female on voter registration forms.

While some eunuchs do vote by listing themselves as female, many are pushing for an alternative or “third sex” option on identity cards, after being granted the franchise in 1994.

Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a prominent eunuch activist and founder of NGO Astitva, which works with sexual minorities, has never voted and refuses to do so until there is a transgender option on identity cards.

“It’s the question of the identity of our whole community,” she said.

“In spite of so many years of independence we haven’t got our own identity, our own place in the constitution of India.”

Most eunuchs live on the outer fringes of society, ostracized and excluded from decent job opportunities and reduced to begging at traffic junctions in major cities or working in the sex trade.

Despite the stigma surrounding them, a campaign to recognise eunuchs as a third sex has yielded some results.

They can now write “E” for eunuch on passports and on certain government forms, but the quest for acceptance at the ballot box – where they have to identify themselves as male or female – still eludes them in culturally conservative India.

“There has been quite a bit of progress so structurally the only thing that comes in is gender politics,” said Ashok Row Kavi, chairman of the Humsafar Trust, a male sexual health NGO.

Eunuchs who want to contest in elections for greater rights have come up against similar problems, even though several have been elected to public office as women.

Last month India’s election commission denied three eunuchs in the eastern state of Orissa permission to run as candidates unless they identified themselves as male or female.

Pratap Sahu, president of the All-Orissa Eunuchs Association, which fielded the candidates, said the unsuccessful bid had been a form of protest against election authorities.

“We wanted to fight the election on the third sex issue. In India nobody has fought for this,” he said.

The relatively small number of eunuchs, compared to other minority groups, means it is unlikely that any party deems them a priority vote bank, said Anil Bairwal, national coordinator for the Association of Democratic Reforms.

“Whether it will be taken up or not – as far as our political parties are concerned, the only language they understand is the language of numbers,” he said.

Month-long general elections in the world’s largest democracy began on Thursday, with the last of five phases taking place on May 13. Results are expected May 16.

Agency France-Presse

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সমকামি বিশয়ের ওয়পরর দুটি কথা।

সমকামি বিশয়ের ওয়পরর দুটি কথা। সমকামি হওয়া কোন রোগ বা ব্যাধি নয়।  সমকামি ছেলে মেয়েরাও আর দশজনের মত মানুষ এবং স্বাভাবিক। আপনি যদি সমকামি হন তাহলে আপনাকে শুভেচ্চা, কারণ আপণি খুবি ভাগ্যবান।

সমকামিরা সাধারনত খুবি চালাক প্রক্রিতির হয় এবং তাদের অনেক রকম বিশেষ বিশেষ প্রতিভা বা গুনাবলি থেকে থাকে। এরা বেশিরভাগেই নিজেদের ভবিশ্ব্ত নিজেরাই নিরধারণ করে থাকে, এবং  জীবনে খুবি প্রতিশটিতশীল হয়ে থাকে। আর আপনি যদি সমকামি না হয়ে থাকেন, তাহলে এদের বুঝতে চেষ্টা করেন। কারণ এদের সুন্দর আচার আচরণ এবং প্রতিভায় আপণি নিজেও প্রভাবিত হতে পারেন। যা নিয়ে আসতে পারে বৈচিত্রময় পরিবরতন আপনার নিজের জিবনেও।

একটা সময় ছিলো যখন শিক্ষা ও দিক্ষার অভাবে মানুষ সমকামিদের বুজতে পারেনি। এটা একটা রোগ ভেবে পৈচাশিক আচরণ করেছে সমকামিদের সাথে। কিন্তু বিংশ শতাব্দিতে এসে, মানুষ বিজ্ঞান এবং প্রজুগত্বির সাহাজ্যে  অনেক পথ এগিয়ে এসেছে। বুজতে শিখেছে সমকামি হওয়াটা আসলে দোশের নয়, এটা প্রক্রিতিরই একটা দান।  শিক্ষিত্ব সমাজের প্রায় সব দেশগুলোতেই, সমকামিদের, দেশের অন্ন্যান্য নাগরিকদের মত সমান সমান অধিকার দেওয়া হচ্ছে।

ইতিহাসের পাতা খুজলে দেখা যায়, বিশ্বের সব বিখ্যাত্ব খ্যাত্যিমান ব্যাক্তিদের প্রায় অনেকেই ছিলেন সমকামি।  শেইক্সপ্রিওর, অস্কারওয়াইল্ড থেকে শুরু করে অনেক রয়েল ফ্যেমিলির নারি পুরুশদের এবং বরতমান কালের অনেক খ্যাতমান ব্যাক্তিদের অনেকেই  সমকামি বা কোন না কোন ভাবে সমাকামিওতার সাথে  জরিত আছেন এবং যোগাযোগ রয়েছে বলে দেখা যায়।

উন্নত দেশগুলোর মত বাংলাদেশ যদিও এখনও সমকামিদের সব সযোগ সুবিধা দিতে পারছেনা, তবে অনেক আগে থেকেই সরকার সমকামিদের সাহায্যে হাত বারিয়েছে। অনেকগুলো শহরেই খুলে দিয়েছে সমকামিদের জন্য (মধুমিথা)হেলথ সেন্টার। যেখানে গেলে পাওয়া যায় নানা রকম যৌন রোগের চিকিতশা, এইচআইভি ও এসটিআই প্রতিরোধ বিষয়ক তথ্য ও শঠিক পরামরশ, কাউন্সিলিং, বিনোদন এবং অন্নান্য সমকামিদের সাথে মেলা মেশার সুযোগ। এটা ইউকের নাজ ফাউন্ডেশানের ১৯৯৬ সালের একটা উদ্দেগেরই সাফল্যতা।

ধীরে ধীরে সমকামিওতা ব্যাপারটি খুবই স্বাবাবিকভাবে নেওয়া হবে এবং টাব্বু বলে মনে করা হবেনা তাতে কোনো সন্দেহ নেই। তবে তার জন্ন্য আমাদের আরও লরতে হবে। কিন্তু তারও আগে আমাদের নিজেদেরকে নিজেদেরকাছে স্বিকার করে বা মেনে নিতে হবে যে আমরা সমকামি। মহাত্মা গান্দি যেমন বলেছেন – “প্রিথিবিতে যদি পরিবরতন আনতে চাও, তাহলে প্রথমে সেই পরিবরতনটা তুমি  নিজের মধ্যে আন”।

taken from bengayliz.com

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