This article has been written by Dakshita Sharma Katare and Curated by Nandita Mishra, Chanakya National Law University, Patna
COVID-19 has impacted the lives of each and every individual on this earth. Some have suffered physically, some mentally, some have suffered socially, and while others financially. These have been trying times for one and all. Everyone has been busy adjusting to their new lifestyle of wearing masks and plastic gloves, using sanitizers, maintaining social distancing and working from home.
The LGBTQ community is no exception either and has not remained immune to the vast spread Corona Virus and its pandemic.
Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders and Queers have been suffering an emotional turmoil from the day lockdown has been imposed in their respective states. With the Pride celebrations cancelled or postponed worldwide and sensitization programmes halted, the lives of millions of people from this community has come to a standstill. Almost 220 Pride festivals this year were either cancelled or postponed keeping in view the current situation. Many such events were though held online, but they failed to heighten the spirits of the poor souls.
In addition to this, more than half of the people belonging to the LGBTQ group were left isolated due to the global crisis. The pandemic put a lock on the social life of many of them. Many of them returned to their respective family homes, only to face the stigma from which they had earlier escaped. They were left isolated in their homes, though they were living between the people who are their own family.
The pandemic times have proved to be beautiful for the rest of the world as far as spending quality time with the family is concerned. Life for millions started to centre around their neighbourhood and locality all over again. People who had forgotten the men and women, amongst whom they had grown up, due to their globalized life and job commitments, were back to their roots living back their past memories and reliving the joys of a neighbourhood based social life.
But there are the people from the LGBTQ community, yet today trying to adjust to their long forgotten lives. They are now back, living amongst those from whom they had run away to enjoy their life to the fullest and to have their right of freedom. Their lives collapsed as they were called back to their past world of ignorance and social trauma.
These people are aware that their families and society have not accepted their sexual identity even today in the 21st century. They fear of being ridiculed and looked down upon by the same people whom they consider their own. This fright has led them to an emotional and mental isolation. They have been yearning for the love and acceptance from their own people. And in its absence their lives have started to feel hollow.
Though there are many who have already confided to their families about their sexual orientation (some being accepted, while the others disowned or forced to live the lives according to their ‘narrow-minded’ society), yet there are many who have failed to confess the truth to their loved ones due to the fear of abandonment. Such people have had a worse life during the pandemic as many of them felt suffocated in their very own homes. Their inability to express themselves has shackled them and they feel that their lives have turned into a prison.
Not only this, there are innumerable transgenders who have been suffering an economic crisis particular to them. As if the social pain and emotional strain was anyway less for them, there are many whose financial crisis has exceeded the unbound lengths of seas. There are many transgender groups who gain their livestock by begging. Also, in our own country India, the presence of transgender group is considered auspicious on weddings and on the birth of child. They are called and paid in return of the countless blessings they bestow on the newly-weds and the newly-born. But with the lockdown imposed and the mobility of each and every individual restricted and strictly surveilled, they have failed to reach such people and have incurred huge financial loss. There is a need to feel their suffering as our own and come forward to bring their lives back on track, like we all have been supporting each other in these tough times of Corona crisis.
All this calls for the human rights of the LGBTQ community who are either facing the social stigma of being what they are or are killing themselves from inside by not just keeping indoors, but also hiding their feelings in their hearts. There is an urgent need to sensitize the heterosexual society towards them. We all need to realise that they aren’t different from us, instead they are one amongst us only and neither do they need our sympathy nor our intolerance. What they need is just our love, compassion, understanding and empathy which are what we all also require. Their demands are no different from ours. They are equal to us and they only seek acceptance from the world which is rightfully theirs. It is high time that we recognise this fact and treat them as equals and live on this earth with harmony while celebrating ‘our’ brotherhood.
In this week of ‘Human Rights’ let us all embrace the feeling of universal brotherhood!