India’s LGBTQ+ ‘pioneer’ state bans abuse and boosts trans rights


Police threats, slurs and even violence are all part of LGBTQ+ life in India, but a new rule could ease the onslaught in one southern state as it becomes a “pioneer” for sexual minorities. The Tamil Nadu government has changed its state conduct rules to tell its police officers to stop harassing LGBTQ+ Indians. This was in response to a high court judge’s order. The change, on paper at least, is radical — even if it is yet to trickle down to street level and mark a true turning point for sidelined minorities in socially conservative India, say LGBTQ+ rights campaigners. “Tamil Nadu is a pioneer in LGBTQ+ rights, especially when it comes to recognizing trans lives,” said Kalki Subramaniam, a trans activist and founder of Sahodari Foundation, which helps trans women in Tamil Nadu. “With this amendment, a lot of innocent trans lives can be saved,” she said. Trans-inclusive efforts began in Tamil Nadu as early as 1994, when it granted voting rights to trans Indians. Then in 2008, it began offering free gender reassignment surgeries — all long before 2014 when India’s top court ruled that trans Indians had equal rights. India passed a transgender rights law in 2019 and established a national council one year later.

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