Although LGBTQ rights in India have evolved in the past few years, they still face certain social and legal difficulties compared to those who do not belong to that community.
In September 2018, the Supreme Court of India decriminalized adult consensual same-sex relationships in the Section 377 judgement review.
So, while homosexuality, queer and non-binary gender identities are more acceptable among the youth in India than before, it is not the case within the boundaries of family and school. Acceptance of their sexuality and freedom to openly express their gender choices are still a struggle for many LGBTQ+ people. This is because many people struggle in understanding LGBTQ youth.
In a society of rigid social and cultural norms and roles that defines multiple aspects of a person’s life, from education to career and marriage, being LGBTQ+ can prove extremely difficult. Many of these people prefer to move to another city to avoid the immense pressure to marry and start a family.
Being LGBTQ teens in India
Lack of support in schools
Some schools and colleges have begun to take up institutionally approved LGBTQ+ activism. However, this has not led to the normalization of many LGBTQ+ issues. Many LGBTQ teens face bullying in their schools and have to deal with stereotypical comments from their peers.
Rejection by family
Statistics show that over 50% of teens who come out face a negative reaction from their families. While some parents overtly criticize their children, others encourage them to keep quiet about their sexuality or, even worse, take them to conversion therapy which can cause lasting psychological damage to the teens. Supporting LGBTQ youth is something that many schools and colleges still need to work on.
Apart from this, the LGBTQ+ community is often misrepresented in the mainstream media. This can also lead to cyberbullying among teenagers due to their idientity.
Many parents make the decision to ask their LGBTQ+ teens to leave their homes. This is an ugly side of familial rejection. It leads to kids being displaced, and their financial support is cut off.
What to do if my parents don’t accept me?
We are genuinely sorry for what you are going through. It has been only as recent as 2018 that even our Supreme Courts in India have legally recognized the Rights of LGBT. It will be a slow change for the parents and our Society for accepting and understanding LGBTQ youth community without shock and disgust. These are centuries-old stigmas that make our parents fearful. Their fear of “log kya kahenge” makes them behave this way.
All we can say is that hang in there. You are living in an era where we have many forums and social media platforms where you can reach out and voice your frustrations, emotions and challenges. Give it time, stay strong, and stay grounded. Everyone deserves to live a life without fear.
Supporting LGBTQ Youth
There are many spaces that are involved in supporting LGBTQ youth in India. Here are some support groups that can provide a safe space for those in the LGBTQ+ community:
The Humsafar Trust was founded in April 1994 to reach out to LGBTQ+ communities in the Mumbai Metro and surrounding areas. They also have support groups YAARIYAN for young LGBTQ persons, UMANG for LBT people and SANJEEVANI for people living with HIV. They also provide legal support, crisis management, nutrition counselling and mental health to the LGBTQ+ community.
Founded in 1992, the Udaan Trust is an Indian non-governmental organization in the state of Maharashtra. It focuses on the issues of sexual health within the transgender and homosexual communities. They provide services like condom distribution, sex education, counselling and medical services to at-risk populations.
The Queer Muslim Project (TQMP)
Countering queerphobia and Muslim hate, the collective was started in March 2017 to provide a safe space for queer Muslims in India. They use digital storytelling, affirmative art practices and the creation of online and offline support networks to challenge the stigma, harmful stereotypes and social exclusion of LGBTQIA+ and Muslim persons.