Sunday, December 15, 2013

Beauty, solidarity and protest

Happenings, Dec '13 (update 2)
Pawan Dhall reports on the ‘Trans Queen Contest North-East 2013’, which mixed beauty and creativity with protest against the Supreme Court verdict on Section 377, Indian Penal Code

Imphal, December 14, 2013: “We don’t want to go back to 1860”, “Down down Supreme Court ruling”, “We want freedom of choice”, “Legalize love” and “Two of a kind make a beautiful pair” – these were some of the witty and hard-hitting placards carried by participants at the third edition of the ‘Trans Queen Contest North-East 2013’ held at the Bhagyachandra Open Air Theatre in Imphal yesterday. The event was organized by the All Manipur Nupi Maanbi Association (AMaNA), a coalition of community-based organizations that work on health, development and human rights of male-to-female transgender people or trans women and males who have sex with males in Manipur.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rainbow tryst with destiny

Happenings, Dec '13 (update 1)
Pawan Dhall reports on the developments around the much anticipated Supreme Court verdict on Section 377, Indian Penal Code

New Delhi, December 10, 2013: Everyone hoped today, the International Human Rights Day, would be judgement day! But the wait got longer by another day for the much awaited Supreme Court verdict on the validity of the Delhi High Court ruling on Section 377, Indian Penal Code (IPC). On July 2, 2009, in a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the constitutional veracity of Section 377, the Delhi High Court had read down Section 377 to decriminalize same-sex sexual relations among consenting adults in private. Subsequently, this ruling was challenged in the Supreme Court, which finished hearing on the matter in March 2012.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Bring on the verdict

Vartanama, Dec '13
By Pawan Dhall

A 12-year period may not be too long by the standards of the Indian judicial system in terms of delivering judgments. But if time is golden, then the Supreme Court must not delay any further a verdict on the matter of the Delhi High Court ruling of July 2009 reading down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The issue at hand is not just decriminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other queer people and their sexual relationships, but one of testing our resolve as a nation in applying the highest principles of the Constitution to a matter that is at once both intimate and public, and challenges our reluctance to look at gender and sexual inequity square in the face and deal with it.

Preparing for Section 377 verdict

Insight, Happenings, Dec '13
Arka Sarkar and Prithviraj Nath report on Kolkata Rainbow Pride Festival’s community meeting on being prepared for the imminent Supreme Court verdict on Section 377, Indian Penal Code

Kolkata, November 9, 2013: An evening full of informative presentations, thought provoking comments, and lively quips – this was the third adda of the Kolkata Rainbow Pride Festival (KRPF) collective at the Academy of Fine Arts. Chaired by KRPF member Pawan Dhall, the key speakers were Mumbai-based Anand Grover, counsel to Naz Foundation (India) Trust for the public interest litigation against Section 377 in Delhi High Court; Kaushik Gupta, advocate and sexual rights activist from Kolkata; Sandip Roy, queer activist, writer and former editor of the USA-based Trikone Magazine, the oldest surviving South Asian queer initiative worldwide; Zaid Al Baset, researcher on gender associated with the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences and faculty, St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata; and Dr. Ujjaini Srimani, Kolkata-based mental health professional, who also works closely with city-based queer support groups.

Qatha: A doctor’s story (part 1)

People, Dec '13
By Pawan Dhall and Sukanya Roy Ghose

Varta brings you the 'Queer Kolkata Oral History Project', an initiative to document five decades of queer lives in Kolkata (1960-2000). Our aim in this project is to go back in time and bring forward diverse queer voices through a series of interviews, which will provide a landmark to Kolkata city's queer history. Typically, the focus will be on the queer scenario in Kolkata during the growing up years of each interviewee – how it was to be queer in Kolkata in different decades since the 1960s till more recent times. The effort will be to bring forward a mix of the well known and the lesser known voices. Apart from the excerpts published here, the project also aims to publish a collection of the interviews in different formats. All interviews are based on informed consent and where requested, all markers of identity have been removed for reasons of confidentiality.

In this issue we begin with the first part of an interview with Dr. Tirthankar Guha Thakurta, a medical doctor, 30 years old, resident of Kolkata. The interview was conducted by Pawan Dhall on August 6, 2013, and transcribed by freelancer Sukanya Roy Ghose.

More III: Prime greed

Poetry, Dec '13
By owais

The more I know,
the more I don’t know.

Reel dialogues

Cinemascope, Dec '13
Sanjib Basu was at ‘Dialogues: 7th Calcutta Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Film and Video Festival’ held at Max Mueller Bhavan, Kolkata, November 21-24, 2013 and took a good hard look at some of the film fare on offer.

The pass said 5 pm. Around 6.15 pm, the lights finally dimmed, and ‘Dialogues: 7th Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Film and Video Festival’ was inaugurated. To add to the delay that has become normal and prolonged at such events, the short memorial clip on Rituparno Ghosh that started the ball rolling had a terrible audio glitch. It was repeated, and fared not too much better.

The largest sexual organ

Advice - Mind, Body and Family, Dec '13
By Dr. Tirthankar Guha Thakurta

What is the largest sexual organ in the human body? Do not be surprised if I quip," It's our brain."

From attraction to erection and desire to orgasm, it is the brain that controls our mind and body. In fact, an interplay of chemicals decides when and how we will be struck by Cupid.

Let me share an interesting experiment conducted in 1974. Over the Capilano River in North Vancouver, Canada there are two bridges. The first is a five feet wide and 450 feet long suspension bridge constructed solely of a wooden plank and cable. It swings happily in the wind some 250 feet above the turbulent rocky tides. The other option is a solidly built anchored bridge that sits a mere 10 feet above sea level.

Sexual harassment

Advice - Rights and Laws, Dec '13
By Kaushik Gupta

Reader queries

What is sexual harassment?
Kishore, Kolkata

The law relating to sexual harassment is new in India. It was brought into effect on February 3, 2013. The offender necessarily has to be a man and the sufferer of such a crime, a woman (unfortunately, till date, the law of the land, by the term ‘woman’, understands only biological women). If the man makes an unwelcome and explicit physical contact or an advance with explicit sexual overtures, or demands or requests sexual favours, or shows pornography to a woman against her will, or makes sexually coloured remarks, then he will be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment. The first offence is bailable but if he commits the same crime again after the first conviction then the same is non-bailable.