LGBTQ+ Health, Rights and Social Protection

LGBTQ+ Health, Rights and Social Protection

SAATHII’s LGBTIQA+ work is focused on amplifying community voices and efforts towards a shared vision of universal access to health, justice, social and economic protection.

Apart from contributing to national LGBTIQA+ advocacy efforts, our work focuses on supporting community-driven initiatives in the states of Gujarat, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu; with future work proposed in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Mizoram and Telangana. Our community partners include All Manipur Nupi Maanbi Association (AMANA), Empowering Trans Ability (ETA), Maa Majhigouri, Nirangal-SIAAP, Queerala, Shamakami, Vikalp Women’s Group and other collectives. We are also pleased to be collaborating with NGO partners such as Nirantar, Varta Trust, and with individuals such as Dr. Sameera Jahagirdar from Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Pondicherry.

SAATHII’s work towards LGBTIQA+ inclusion is supported directly by such past and present donors as the  AmplifyChange, American Jewish World Service, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Elton John AIDS Foundation, European Union, Mac AIDS Fund, UNAIDS, UNDP and WHO-SEARO. It has also been support through the Sussex Social Science Impact Fund for the Manipur Economic Inclusion initiative being carried out by Pawan Dhall of the Varta Trust, Kolkata, and Paul Boyce of the Univ of Sussex School of Global Studies, in partnership with community advocates from AMANA and ETA.

For more information, contact

Please view the video below, prepared on the occasion of The International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT 2021) and read a short article on our EU-supported work here.

1. Project Sangraha

Punitive laws such as the colonial-era sodomy law (Sec 377) until it was read down in 2018 and Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, combined with heightened religious conservatism, social taboos and biases, contribute to escalating stigma, discrimination and violence on the LGBTIQ+ community members. The action, funded by European Union, envisages contributing to country’s efforts towards realizing SDG 16 of promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Community members across operational geographies will be provided literacy on fundamental human rights and rights as citizens of the country and how universal access to health, education and justice can be asserted and achieved. The project is being implemented in the states of Odisha, Manipur and Telangana with the collaboration of partners, namely, Modern Architects for Rural India (MARI) and Rural Research Development and Council (RRDC).

The four key result areas are:

Key Result Area 1: Improved capacities of LGBTIQ+ communities to respond to violence and discrimination and to facilitate legal gender identity change

Key Result Area 2: Enhanced response of justice-enabling institutions (law, law enforcement and rights com-missions) to redress violence and discrimination faced by LGBTIQ+ communities

Key Result Area 3: Ensuring non-discriminatory, violence-free and inclusive law-enforcement, healthcare and education facilities

Key Result Area 4: Progress towards amendment of national punitive law (IPC 377), domestic violence and juvenile justice to make them LGBTIQ+ inclusive and state level implementation of laws and policies around transgender rights.

Key Accomplishments:

          • 1423 members from LGBTIQ communities were provided literacy on fundamental rights and relevant laws and policies in the country
          • 20% out of total reached out through literacy, reported crisis as against 3% in year 1
          • 84% of reported cases resolved through formal and informal mechanisms
          • 269 transgender persons were facilitated gender identity documents as against 84 in year 1
          • 634 entitlement documents were accessed across all states
          • 43 community members inducted as para-legal volunteers under District and State Legal Services Authorities
          • Poster on violence redressal and leaflet on Transgender Rights were developed and printed and disseminated among community members and stakeholders
          • More than 3400 representatives from Health, Education, Law and Law enforcement ( from state to block level) sensitized on issues of LGBTIQ communities which led to 58 crisis cases being resolved formally
          • Collaboration with Educational and Child Care Institutions facilitated identification and reporting of crisis cases
          • A2J (Access to Justice) committee members were involved in crisis response in focal states
          • Manipur Police Training College (MPTC) has consented to include module on LGBTIQ during regular police training
          • Continued advocacy with District Administration and private service providers in focal states resulted in Transgender inclusion and consistency in entitlement documents and job opportunities
        • A Gazette Notification from the Government of Manipur towards inclusion of Transgender Person under Free Legal Aid Category – a result of consistent joint advocacy of various LGBT projects of SAATHII

2. Project Empower

The project, funded by American Jewish World Service (AJWS), aims to strengthen community groups and promot access to government schemes and legal services among TG/Hijra groups in Manipur and Odisha. Maa Majhi Gouri (MMG), Informal LBT Collective and The Parichay Collective (TPC) in Odisha and Empowering Trans Ability (ETA) in Manipur are the implementing partners of the initiative. The service structure of the project is depicted in the figure presented below:

Key Accomplishments:

        • Increased Access to Social, Legal and livelihood services: (i) Mobilized Mudra loan for five @ INR 50,000 each and DRI loan for seven community members @ INR 15,000 each making it a total of INR 3,55,000 in Odisha; (ii) facilitated ration card application of 15 persons; (iii) Government of Manipur notified inclusion of transgender (along with PLHIV and senior citizen) as one of the beneficiaries towards facilitating their access to access to free legal aid service.

        • Advocacy with State Governments for implementing NALSA judgment: The Department of SSEPD, Government of Odisha started empanelment process of community-based organizations (and civil society organizations) towards providing them the opportunity to implement specific components of Sweekruti scheme. CBOs including MMG have made successful representation in applying for respective vicinities.
        • Progress in Advocacy towards Bullying-free Educational Environments: Advocated with the administration of National Institute of Technology, Rourkela in making the campus LGBT inclusive in line with the UGC’s third amendment on anti ragging.
        • Increased access to inclusive health services: (i) Due to the continued engagement with the mental healthcare providers and other health care providers, more than 20 transmen managed to obtain gender incongruence certificate and initiated hormone therapy; (ii) 30 community members received support from the helplines operated by SAATHII and partners.

      • Outreach: Both ETA, Manipur and informal LBT collective of Odisha reached out to 86 new transmen individuals.

3. Project Vistaara

The regressive and NALSA non-compliant transgender rights bill, non-inclusive medical and educational curriculum, non-inclusive domestic violence and juvenile justice acts contribute to escalating stigma and discrimination, and impede access to quality healthcare, education and social protection for India’s LGBTI communities. Towards enhancing LGBTI rights, reducing stigma and discrimination, and promoting access to inclusive health, education, laws and policies Project Vistaara, supported by AmplifyChange, UK, is being implemented in the states of  Gujarat, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, with need-based national-level advocacy. Since the salient feature of the project is capacity building and facilitating advocacy actions, its operation is not limited to any particular district of the implementing states. 

SAATHII is leading a coalition, involving its implementing partners and technical partners/experts towards evidence gathering and implementing community-led advocacy actions. Partners in the project are: i) Vikalp (Women’s Group), Gujarat; ii) SIAAP-Nirangal, Tamil Nadu, iii) Queerala, Kerala; iv) Nirantar Trust, New Delhi. Dr. Sameera M Jahagirdar, MBBS, DA, DNB (Anesthesiology), Assistant Professor, Department of Critical Care Medicine, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College & Research Institute, Puducherry,  provides technical support to the project as Technical Expert – Health

Project Vistaara aims at:

        • Strengthening the Vistaara coalition to advocate for implementation of transgender specific laws and policies, and for making other policies, curriculum and guidelines inclusive of LGBTIQ+ individuals
        • Building capacity of LGBTIQ+ leaders (referred as LGBTIQ+ champions), building on their pre-existing knowledge, skills and lived experience to emerge as strengthened and empowered advocates for LGBTIQ+ inclusion
        • Advancing community-led advocacy towards
              1. Implementing the national law on transgender rights at state level
              2. Creating LGBTIQ+ inclusive spaces (with reference to Supreme Court’s Sec 377 verdict)
              3. Making acts pertaining to domestic violence and juvenile justice act inclusive of LGBTIQ+ issues
              4. Making medical training LGBTIQ+ -inclusive
              5. Ensuring inclusive and non-discriminatory education

Key Accomplishments:

        • Tamil Nadu National Health Mission (NHM) established its first multi-specialty transgender clinic at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, Chennai (June 2019).
        • Government of Tamil Nadu issued notification (August 2019) on banning non-essential sex assignment surgeries on intersex infants.
        • Kasturba Gandhi Nursing College, Kerala, a constituent college of Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, launched the transgender-inclusive nursing curriculum (Nov 2019), meant for under-graduate and postgraduate courses.
        • Calicut Medical College, Kerala, formally publicized (Nov 2019) the third amendment of the UGC’s regulation on anti ragging that prohibits sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds of harassment inside campus.
        • Health and Family Welfare Department, Government of Gujarat initiated formation of a Working Group (December 2019) to look into issues of LGBTI inclusion in medical education.
        • Dakshayani Velayudhan Centre for Women Studies, Kerala included SOGIESC in a gender studies course (Dec 2019).
        • After two years of formal engagement, Indian Psychiatric Society-Kerala Branch partnered with Queerala and SAATHII in organising continuing medical education with mental health professionals (Feb 2020).
        • Nirangal and SAATHII contributed in the advocacy actions with Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, towards inclusion of transmen in Tamil Nadu Transgender Welfare Board. A Formal notification is pending from the department (Mar 2020)

4. Project Samata

The project, funded by Expertise France,  aims to end discrimination, prevent and mitigate human rights violations, and promote inclusion and access to services for LGBTIQ+ communities through policy advocacy and engagement with stakeholders and communities. Project Samata is focused on improving access of LGBTIQ+ communities to inclusive services in the field of health, education, legal aid and livelihood. The activities proposed in Project Samata are aligned with SAATHII’s long-term vision and mission, and hence it is expected that they will yield concrete results in terms of policy/implementation changes whose utility will extend beyond the period of intervention and the project geography. The National Capital Region (NCR), a central planning region of the National Capital Territory in India, is the focused area of Samata’s intervention. Prominent cities of NCR include Delhi, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gurugram, Noida, Meerut, Bulandshahr, Muzaffarnagar, Karnal, Rohtak, Alwar, Bharatpur, Sonipat and Panipat. During the stipulated project period, the following objectives will be achived:

      • Increase access to LGBTIQ+ inclusive social schemes, workplaces, educational systems, laws, and policies through national and local (Delhi NCR) advocacy for formulation of new policies or implementation of previously formulated policies and laws.
      • Enhance public acceptance and support of LGBTIQ+ communities through awareness raising with local stakeholders, communities, and media, with a focus on Delhi NCR.
      • Enhance preventive and mitigative support for the LGBTIQ+ community facing human rights violation and barriers to healthcare, with a focus on the Delhi NCR.
      • Strengthen capacities of local LGBTIQ+ CBOs in programme implementation, monitoring, documentation, and advocacy

Key Accomplishments:

      • Reached 204 community members, 16 institutions (including educational institutes and corporates), and 586 non-community stakeholders over the reporting period to advocate for increased access to inclusive services.
      • Seven events reached 60 non-community stakeholders and 108 community members to enhance public acceptance of LGBTI+ communities, and reached the public through six offline and online incidents of media coverage.
      • Ten cases of human rights violations were documented from the Delhi NCR area, five existing reports of human rights violations and another seven focused on health-care were reviewed. T
      • Two mental health and one legal clinic reached a total of 50 community members and 30 stakeholders (lawyers and healthcare providers).
      • A total of 50 individuals were provided information and referrals through the telephone and email helpline
      • The project has networked with 10 community organizations during the reporting period and will be organizing programs on leadership and institutional strengthening in the upcoming period.
      • Participated in advocacy to advance trans rights through raising awareness of gaps in the Transgender (RIghts of Persons) Bill 2019 and Act 2019.

5. Project Access

The socio-economic-political contexts hugely impacted in making public services LGBTI-inclusive. To cite an example, the Transgender (Protection and Rights) Bill, 2016, which was against the progressive NALSA verdict, continued to be pending in the parliament, thereby delayed formulation of transgender welfare programmes in many parts of the country, including in the North-East region. Towards making health, education and social welfare and legal services LGBTI-inclusive, the project Access, supported by Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice,  was implemented in the states of Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland. The programme built capacity of community groups, documented experiences of LGBTIQ community groups in education and health settings and facilitated community-led advocacy actions. The implementing partners are: All Manipur Nupi Maanbi Association, Imphal,  Sympyllieng Welfare Trust, Shillong, and  Good Will Organisation, Dimapur.

The objectives of the two-year project are:

      • Building capacity of community groups in Meghalaya and Nagaland towards building their organisational systems and enhancing thematic knowledge on various programmatic issues for community-led advocacy actions with their respective governments
      • Gathering evidences around denial of treatment and need for training of health care providers and organising institution-specific orientation session with healthcare providers in Meghalaya and Nagaland
      • Gathering evidences around denial of educational services in Meghalaya and Nagaland
      • Carrying out advocacy actions towards implementation of NALSA judgement in Meghalaya and Nagaland
      • Continuation of inclusive health and education advocacy in Manipur.

Key Accomplishments:

      • Senapati and Churachandpur District Hospitals designated separate outpatient department (OPD) counter for Transgender individuals (in July 2019 and March 2020 respectively)
      • Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) included gender marker (‘T’) in the OPD intake form in November 2019 and designated separate OPD counter in March 2020 for Transgender clients visiting the health facility
      • Senapati District Hospital set-up a designated gender neutral toilet in January 2020.
      • As a result of regular follow-up meeting by local community groups for trans-friendly service, the Social Welfare Department of Meghalaya recognised the need for documenting needs of trans individuals in the state, and a Research Officer was assigned
      • to conduct a needs assessment survey of the transgender community members from Meghalaya.
      • The project reached out to five Higher Secondary Schools from Imphal East and Imphal West districts via sensitization programmes relating gender, sexuality and barriers faced by and gender and sexual minority community members at educational institutions. These sessions helped in sensitising 118 teaching staff, five non-teaching staff and 179 students
      • Ten case studies, each on access to education and health services, have been documented fromNagaland and Meghalaya. The documented cases are used as evidence-base during advocacy actions.