Campaigns

Campaigning for Sexual Minority Rights

In Bangalore, the sexuality minority communities are closely linked with the sex workers movement and we often come together for common platforms. A prime example of this is the union between Sangama and Suraksha, an organization working in Bangalore Rural District with women sex workers and sexuality minorities). Each of the organizations has a strong community base in and around Bangalore City. At present there two organizations together are reaching out to around 10,000 sexuality minorities and sex workers in and around Bangalore City.

Karnataka Sexworkers Union is a sexworkers union is initiated by Sangama. It is affiliated with New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), a federation of independent trade unions. Efforts are being made to create an all India sexworkers union.

Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) is based on the erroneous premise that there is no such thing as voluntary sex work and punishes mostly poor people whose livelihoods are based on sex work. Trafficking is enforced labor that violates human rights as it takes away consent and freedom. Legitimate sexwork, on the other hand, has to do with economic viability that is a critical component of livelihoods for millions of men, women and hijras sexworkers.

The intended purpose of the law is to prevent trafficked sexwork, however it becomes a tool to harass, abuse, extort and torture sexworkers across India. Although sexual services have constant demand and is tolerated within the margins of society, it is stigmatized and condemned at the same time. Currently, the Indian Government is proposing to amend ITPA by seeking to penalize clients of sexworkers. Passage of such an amendment will be catastrophic as far as the livelihoods of sexworkers and their dependants are concerned. Urgent need is to recognise sexwork as legitimate work/profession.


Repeal Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code

Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature, with any man, woman or animal shall be punishable with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.

  Rally at Chennai

IPC 377 criminalizes any penetrative sex that does not lead to reproduction, thereby criminalizing sexual expression by homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals. Even though this section does not lead often to filing of court cases against sexuality minorities, it becomes a powerful weapon in the hands of police and goondas to harass, abuse, extort and torture sexuality minorities routinely. This law forms the structural basis for the widespread stigma, discrimination, marginalization and prejudice against sexuality minorities in our society.

Repealing IPC 377 will become a precondition in demanding changes to various civil laws. Already the Law Commission of India in its 172nd report (on reviewing rape laws) and recently the Planning Commission of India have recommended the repeal of IPC 377.

Additionally, our laws do not recognize sex-change. Most rights including right to education , employment, housing economic opportunities, health, mobility, marriage, adoption, ration card, passport etc. are denied to hijras and other transsexuals, as they cannot prove their identities, their birth certificates and their present identities do not match. Recognizing sex-change and establishing procedures becomes the first step towards getting citizenship rights to transsexuals.


Campaign for Sexworkers Rights

In Bangalore, the sexuality minority communities are closely linked with the sex workers movement and we often come together for common platforms. A prime example of this is the union between Sangama and Suraksha, an organization working in Bangalore Rural District with women sex workers and sexuality minorities). Each of the organizations has a strong community base in and around Bangalore City. At present there two organizations together are reaching out to around 10,000 sexuality minorities and sex workers in and around Bangalore City.

Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) is based on the erroneous premise that there is no such thing as voluntary sex work and punishes mostly poor people whose livelihoods are based on sex work. Trafficking is enforced labor that violates human rights as it takes away consent and freedom. Legitimate sexwork, on the other hand, has to do with economic viability that is a critical component of livelihoods for millions of men, women and hijras sexworkers.

The intended purpose of the law is to prevent trafficked sexwork, however it becomes a tool to harass, abuse, extort and torture sexworkers across India. Although sexual services have constant demand and is tolerated within the margins of society, it is stigmatized and condemned at the same time. Currently, the Indian Government is proposing to amend ITPA by seeking to penalize clients of sexworkers. Passage of such an amendment will be catastrophic as far as the livelihoods of sexworkers and their dependants are concerned. Urgent need is to recognise sexwork as legitimate work/profession.


HIV/AIDS Health Campaign

Recent estimates have found that HIV prevalence among Sangama's main constituency is as high as 10 percent. It is therefore apparent that HIV has a serious impact on the lives of Hijras, Kothis and Doubledeckers (HKD). The program works to reduce the HIV incidence among HKD and their partners in Bangalore, as well as providing care and support for People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA). The two major objectives of the program are

  • To increase the frequency of condom use by the community and
  • To reduce the incidence of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) within the community and with any partners from outside the community.

Peer-centered strategies utilizing community mobilizers‌ from the community who reinforce knowledge of HIV/AIDS and promote condom usage through community outreach activities. The mobilizers also serve as a link to the community for crisis intervention services. Additionally, they connect people to the Drop-in-Centers (DIC).

The program has reached out to at least 7000 people in Bangalore City on a regular basis. The main components of this program include: providing information to people on HIV/AIDS through 1-to-1 and group meetings in the office and cruising areas, distributing condoms and water based lubricants, providing STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) treatment through clinics, providing safe spaces in the form of drop-in-centres, providing counseling and psychosocial support and providing HIV testing facilities through our CVCCTC (Community based Voluntary and Confidential Counseling and Testing Centre).