Experts see need for awareness on alternative sexual preferences March 22, 2009Posted by qmediawatch in Chennai / Tamilnadu, Times of India.
CHENNAI: The society will start accepting members of the gay, lesbian and transgender communities only when there is large-scale awareness of
alternative sexual preferences, said expert testifiers at an event to address stigma and discrimination against homosexuality on Saturday. Psychiatrist Dr Vijay Nagaswami and sexual medicine consultant Dr Narayana Reddy were part of Homophobia: A citizen’s forum’ organized by ActionPlus, which is a consortium of 13 non-governmental organisations from across the country including YRGCare and Nalamdana from Chennai. “There are various phases to acceptance awareness, gaining of knowledge, becoming comfortable with that knowledge and trial and testing. It cannot happen overnight. Discrimination happens because of the fear of the unknown and a person’s fear that his own sexual identity would be changed,” Dr Narayana Reddy said. Dr Nagaswami said, “There is a need for more space to discuss such issues.” The doctors were responding to issues on same gender sex put forward by representatives of sexual minorities Srivath, Kalki and Sumathi.
Gay activist Srivath spoke about his success story in getting his family and friends to understand and accept his attraction towards members of the same sex. He said, “I realized that I was attracted to members of the same sex when I was quite young so I didn’t have problems with my sexuality or sexual identity. There were problems with being accepted in society, but I realized soon enough that those who bully you usually get bored of it or accept it,” he said. He spoke about the need for managements and counselors of educational institutions to be more aware of gender minorities. “There’s a lot of awareness being created on transgenders but not enough about gay men,” he said.
Founder of Sahodari Foundation and transgender activist Kalki said that more sensitisation is needed before putting transgenders in jobs in the public. “Transgenders earn more than what they would in a BPO through begging or commercial sex and through this money they also support their biological families who often live away from them. So when NGOs come forward to offer them jobs for much lesser pay, they find it difficult to leave their old lifestyle,” she said. Sumathi, who heads Lesbit a wing of NGO Sangama that addresses the needs of lesbians in Bangalore, spoke about the invisible pressure on female homosexuals and the domestic violence faced by lesbians, many of whom are unable to give up their old relationships even after being forcibly married to men.
The speakers also highlighted the need to educate parents, teachers and even counsellors on the issue. Similar meetings have been planned in Goa and Delhi