Naharlagun: Several challenges like intolerance, discrimination, harassment, etc. faced by the LGBTQIAP+ community of the state were discussed at length in a daylong sensitization programme organized by AP Queer Station, a newly-formed rainbow community support group, at the Oju Welfare Association (OWA) here on Sunday.
The programme was part of the 52nd gay pride month observed every year in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall uprising in Manhattan, United States.
Also considered a tipping point for the gay liberation movement, Pride Month is dedicated to the uplifting of LGBTQ voices and a celebration of the LGBTQ culture and rights.
The theme of the celebration this year was “Understanding the LGBTQ+ community from a psycho-social lens”.
Interacting with participants, OWA chairperson Ratan Anya said the LGBTQ+ community of the state face challenges and issues on a daily basis and the same is evident from cases received by the OWA through the Women Helpline-181.
“Many cities in India have started to accept the gay community but there are still many issues in Arunachal Pradesh as they continue to face discrimination and exclusion in all spheres of life,” she said.
Anya, however, advised the members of the community not to be depressed and said that Article 15 of the India Constitution gives them equal rights and freedom.
She also referred to the removal of Section 377 by the Supreme Court in 2018 for granting legal rights to the LGBTQ+ and the introduction of the Garima scheme (short stay home) for members of the community.
Anya further assured that the OWA will immediately start providing aid and shelter for members of the community at a 10-bed hall with an attached kitchen and bathroom.
Capital superintendent of police Jimmy Chiram said society and people change with time and the experience and idea of LGBTQ+ is very new in the state.
“We must make sure that future generations do not face the same struggle that the LGBTQ is facing at present. The idea of LGBTQ is very new in our society and we are moving late in discussions of their legal rights,” the SP said.
Chiram said respecting and being sensitive to each other as human beings is what matters the most.
Sawang Wangchha, the founder of AP Queer Station dwelt on gender, sexuality and the significance of pronouns.
He said the LGBTQ+ issue is very critical and complex as the society in the state is not keen on starting a conversation about the community.
“Many LGBTQ+ children and adults are yet to open up about their identity because of factors such as fear, hatred, loneliness and misunderstanding by society,” he said, recounting his struggles to come to grips with his sexual orientation. Also Read: Spotlight on rights, dignity of queers in Arunachal
Other representatives of the LGBTQ+ community – T R Lending, Lo Nalo and Amann Ronya – also shared stories of the struggles and trauma they faced growing up among people considered “straight”.
Koj Rinya, a psychologist and general secretary of the AAPPA spoke on the topic “mental health issues from an intersectional perspective” during which she highlighted the need to check one’s privileges, adopting listening first and learning approach, making space, etc.
A short film titled “Gender Identity” was also screened during the day to understand the concept of transgender women.
The programme organized in collaboration with the All Arunachal Pradesh Psychological Association (AAPPA) ended with a speech of gratitude by Women Helpline-181 project manager Binny Yachu.