First Anniversary of 377 decriminalisation: What has changed for LGBTQIA at Workplace?

What the judgment means to me

The judgment comes as an acknowledgement of the fundamental rights of lakhs of queer Indian citizens. I am extremely grateful to all the people who have made decriminalization of the community possible. The judgment is also a manifesto for what urgently needs to change in India. From workplace equality to right to marry, adopt and live with the people we love – the judgement is monumental but also a marker for all the work we have ahead of us.  

The changes I have witnessed since the judgment 

I see that more and more companies are ‘coming out’ and are interested in working with the community. More companies are aware of this as a lucrative market but also as an inclusion agenda that needs to be urgently tackled. When we launched our Godrej Manifesto for Trans Inclusion in December 2018, we had over 300 business heads and policymakers in the room, so people are definitely interested. We just need to make sure the conversation doesn’t end at superficialities. Godrej has already been part of 2 LGBTQ job fairs and we hope that more such initiatives will come up.

Although there is a sense of euphoria within the community, I feel the community becoming impatient (and rightly so), for their other rights to be realized.  We have had a Trans bill passed in Parliament which is transphobic in its wording. We have been voiceless in the CARA guidelines (for adoption) and the surrogacy bill. So, as a community, we need to be aware of decisions about our lives being made without consultation with us and respond to these strengths.

What’s next for the LGBTQ community?

The verdict has set the ball rolling for LGBTQ inclusion. Hopefully, more and more companies will invest in products and services catering to the community – but I hope to also see more opportunities for skilling and employment for the community.  

I am eager to see corporate India take up LGBTQ inclusion on a much larger scale. In an effort to push this agenda, I am writing a book titled “Queeristan” where I am chronicling my journey in corporate India but also making the case for LGBTQ inclusion in the Indian workplace – because we need business leaders at big corporates to internalize what the judgment has meant to us all – hope for inclusive futures in love, living and work.

Author- -Parmesh Shahani, Head, Godrej India Culture Lab

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