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The Hindu – Aravanis, gays and the law enforcers July 21, 2006

Posted by qmediawatch in English, HIV, Transgender.
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The Hindu – Chennai (Staff Reporter)

CHENNAI: They faced questions, gave some answers but mostly listened to what the third sex in the city had to say. Nearly 20 police personnel sat through an advocacy programme to create awareness about HIV/AIDS and problems faced by Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM) and transgenders, particularly from law enforcement agencies.

The participants from 12 police stations fielded questions such as “What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?” and “Where are condoms available for free?” during the session conducted by N. Usman, a retired medical professional.

Unprotected sex

The doctor, however, reiterated how dangerous unprotected sex even with a familiar person could be. He also talked about the effectiveness of Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission centres at various government hospitals.

The programme, organised on Monday, put more questions to the officers when it came to the conflicts the MSM and the transgendered had with the police.

According to MSM spokesperson Jambulingam, field workers sent out by NGOs to distribute condoms sometimes face harassment from the authorities. He appealed to authorities to recognise and authorise the identity cards of these workers.

A few police officials responded by pointing out the need to verify the antecedents of field workers, who they said, sometimes misused their identity cards. Though exchanges such as these were far and few, the programme organised by Chennai Corporation AIDS Prevention And Control Society, Tamil Nadu Aravanigal Association (THAA) and Indian Community Welfare Organisation, highlighted the need for more interactions.

“There is still no social security for us,” said president of THAA P. Aasha Bharathi.

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