Mumbai The All India Professional Congress (AIPC), which is the front wing of the Grand Old Party for professionals and entrepreneurs, has set up a committee for LGBTQ+ communities.
“The idea is to promote values of equality and inclusion for an insignificant minority. Many members of the LGBTQ community don’t even have voter ID cards. Therefore, this (the initiative) is not important from a political point of view, but from an equality point of view,” said Mathew Anthony, President of AIPC, Maharashtra.
He added that they would work to provide jobs to members of these social groups by improving skills and promoting their acceptability in the private sector.
AIPC has Shashi Tharoor, author, former international civil servant and Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram, as chairman.
“We are very attached to many political issues, but we do not feel represented by any political party. There is always lip service to our causes. We want to change that… We are the party of progressive values and I believe that if social change on the LGBTQ issue is to evolve naturally, it will have to evolve with Congress,” said Mario da Penha, State Coordinator of LGBTQIA . business committee.
He added that the LGBTQ+ community felt they were not part of the political system and AIPC would work to change that. Penha highlighted how AIPC members raised the rainbow flag at the Bhavan Congress in Pune last year to celebrate the third anniversary of the Supreme Court (SC) decriminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults.
“We will talk to ministers of departments like education and social justice in Maharashtra and see what they can do to help the community…we want to raise awareness about mental health as some parents, who cannot manage sexual preferences of their children, take to psychiatrists who administer electric shocks to them in an attempt to “cure” them. We plan to involve the state government to ensure this does not happen,” Penha said, adding that AIPC also plans to develop qualification initiatives and employment opportunities for sections like transgender people.
AIPC also hosted webinars by Akkai Padmashali, a transgender activist and congressman from Karnataka, and with parents of queer people, where they talked about their experience of accepting their child’s sexual preference. Assistance has also been provided to members of the transgender community, for whom the lockdown has been particularly hard, as they have limited sources of income such as begging and sex work, which requires social interaction.
In 2020, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which is an ally of Congress in Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in the state, had also set up an LGBTQ+ cell. The Congress also formed a transgender cell in Kerala that year. However, mainstream political parties have done little to promote awareness and acceptance of these social sections by mainstream society.