In a first-of-its-kind initiative, Kozhikode district in Kerala has set up a grievance redressal committee to address issues faced by members of the LGBT community.
While the committee will be chaired by the district collector N Prasanth, the sub-collector of Kozhikode will be the nodal officer. She/he will be in-charge of accepting complaints from community members.
Image for representation only. Courtesy of : Vinayak Das from Bangalore, India (Bengaluru Pride 2009Uploaded by Fæ) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Additionally, the committee will have two representatives from the LGBT community, other than the city police commissioner, sub-judge from district legal services authority, a district medical officer, and a social justice officer. The council, which has been given the directive to meet at regular intervals, will also bring in other officials according to the nature of the registered complaint.
On August 12, Kozhikode saw its sixth edition of the Kerala Queer Pride march. Issues faced by the LGBT community, including discrimination and harassment surfaced during the discussions at the march. A few community members got together to write an open letter to the district collector, N Prasanth who then used his authority to issue an order that led to the development of the grievance redressal board.
He told The Times of India, “We have been receiving several complaints from the community members about the violence, abuse, ill-treatment and restricted access to public spaces, education and healthcare from the members of the community. We felt that this is one of the vulnerable groups who hardly have any forum to get their grievances addressed. This is the reason why we decided to set up the committee.”
The development of a board that address the rights of LGBT people to live with dignity is yet another feather in Kerala’s cap, which was the first state in the country to formulate a transgender policy.
According to reports, LGBT activists are highly appreciative of this progressive step because at present there is no “dedicated government body” that seeks to address issues faced by the queer community. Their problems are taken into consideration only by the human rights commissioner or a legal authority.
In case of any queries, you can contact the district collector here.