On Gay Rights
#1
The recent refusal from the Supreme Court of India to listen to a review petition on the subject of decriminalization of Homosexuality(although technically the subject is bit different) has made it almost impossible for us to have equal rights for the LGBT community. A lot of the arguments against Homosexuality seems to be the result of unscientific thought and religious bigotry shouldn't Nirmukta as a promoter of Science, Freethought and Secular Humanism be doing something more than just providing verbal support ?
We might have a last chance at the court but with the imminent winning of BJP in the next election we will never have a chance inside the assembly. Even if its not BJP with the kind of politics done in India we can never hope for a legislation on this matter, unless it becomes a major socio-political issue.
I feel sad that the LGBT community is fighting alone in this battle and other people are content just giving moral support. Looking at the far reaching implications of this case isn't it the right time to act ?
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#2
Here are some thoughts on moral support extended by freethinkers to the LGBT community, examining some premises and more importantly, possibilities.

(i) While attempting to extend solidarity or 'outside support' to any marginalized group, it can be very useful to keep in mind this comment by social activist Geeta Charusivam. The very formulation of 'the freethinker community' extending support to 'the LGBT community' has the unwitting effect of keeping sharp the boundaries and margins that in their own way pose the side-effect of continued marginalization. We know that there are team-mates self-identifying as LGBT in freethought groups we participate in, and we can likewise be reasonably sure that there are some avowed freethinkers in primarily LGBT groupings as well. Conceptualizing the upcoming collaboration as, say, Nirmukta-Orinam synergy may in fact be less limiting than calling it a 'rationalist-LGBT' tie-up because we know that neither of the organizations brings only rationalists to the table, or only LGBT folk to the table. Both bring both the table. Be it the Hindutva frontline or the homophobia frontline, the struggles may have a great deal in common, precluding treating any one in isolation.

(ii) Where does moral support end and material support begin? Does the devotion of time to perform written advocacy count only as moral support and hence remain 'immaterial'? There is an argument against such a sharp distinction, which suggests that if FAQ sections are handled by allies, then more human resources are freed up for more concrete activity by those primarily at the receiving end. When someone engaged in full-time on-ground LGBT advocacy sits down to address rehashed arguments in a blog post, perhaps that time spent represents an 'opportunity cost' in terms of fewer meetups arranged and attended. Looking at it from the allies' end, such blogging can indirectly translate into an 'opportunity dividend' for the primary activists. Perhaps right there is a case for encouraging our contributors to author more quickfire rebuttals (like this near-instant response to B M Hegde) for any LGBT-unfriendly articles that appear, such as this recent one by Sangh ideologue S Gurumurthy (which says that the famed Indian tolerance does a great favor to those engaging in homosexual acts by 'ignoring' rather than 'persecuting' them, despite disapproving of them). Besides providing an 'opportunity dividend' for more concrete and consequential LGBT advocacy, such vigorous blogging can also supply the sort of morale boosts that Greta Christina talks of with fondness here.

A heartening demonstration of how platform-sharing and airtime-sharing for a common cause by two groups, in this case Nirmukta and Orinam, can create educational resources and strengthen communities, can be found in this video of a jointly organized panel discussion on Reason, Prejudice and the case for LGBT rights at Thinkfest 2014, Chennai.



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#3
A quick note as one of the volunteers at Orinam who had an opportunity to meet Nirmukta/CFT folk at the panel discussion in Chennai last month. It was heartening to experience the solidarity and support, especially in light of the saga leading up to and following the Supreme Court ruling, which has had so many of us really down.

- As Arvind pointed out, the two groups are not immiscible. Many LGBT+ally people consider themselves/ourselves secular and humanists, and some are part of groups like Nirmukta. I think this is what enables cross-fertilization and more effective solidarity work than is possible from an "us" helping "them" locus.

- We at Orinam are always looking for blogposts and resource materials, including those that are effective rebuttals of homophobic coverage or representations in the media. In this context, we were pleased to republish (with author consent) Arvind Raghavan's piece from Nirmukta against a homophobic Hindu Open Page essay. We are currently seeking atheist and agnostic perspectives for our online resources for religion and faith., so please do consider writing!

- Some of our volunteers have also occasionally contributed posts to Nirmukta and/or been part of LGBT-themed discussions at CFT meetings.

Looking forward to continued dialogue, offline and online.

LR
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