The first formal parent gathering to offer support to the parents of India's LGBTQ members was recently held in Mumbai. It hopes to reach other parents too!
The first formal parent gathering to offer support to the parents of India’s LGBTQ members was recently held in Mumbai. It hopes to reach other parents too!
A set of 10 parents in Mumbai have made history recently by uniting to form India’s first official support group for parents of LGBTQ persons.
The meeting, which was set up by Solaris Pictures to promote their upcoming film Evening Shadows, saw the parents formally come together to discuss how they could help support each other and also to discuss how they could reach out to offer support to other parents in similar situations.
In recent years, various support networks and initiatives for LGBTQ members have been established across the country. However, for parents of these members, this is not the case.
Evening Shadows director Sridhar Rangayan told LGBT Weekly: “There have been parents support meets and acceptance in the past, organised by Gay Bombay and Yaariyan, but the parents have mostly been sharing their experiences in public. This was the first time ever they got to spend an entire day with each other, sharing and discussing in a structured formal manner.”
For members of the LGBTQ community in India, just being themselves is difficult. By law homosexuality is deemed criminal on the grounds of it going ‘against nature’ and punishable by up to life imprisonment. In society the issue remains largely taboo and likewise within the majority of traditional conservative Indian families.
Of the several battles that people from the LGBT community in India fight on a regular basis, gaining acceptance from their families is a major one them. Where there are some parents whose thinking has been hardened by years of social conditioning and refuse to accept that their children are homosexual, there are some who are supportive of their children.
For many of those however showing support openly is difficult as negative societal attitudes subject them to prejudices and make it difficult for them to be accepting and supportive of their LGBTQ children.
For these 10 parents then, their gathering was not just important for their LGBTQ children, but was important for themselves to be accepted as parents of homosexual persons within their communities.
In a symbol of harmony with their community, the parents came together to discuss how they could support each other, how they could reach out to other parents to offer support and even discussed how they could establish a presence in society and in the media. One of the topics discussed during the meeting was how the parents could come to terms with their children’s LGBTQ identities.
The gathering comes in support of an international wave of Indian parents challenging typical stereotypes of conservative Indian parents with public displays of support for their LGBTQ children. In June of last year, the Indian parents of a gay man in Canada threw their son an elaborate and traditional Hindu wedding. Thanks to the man’s parents, the two grooms were able to celebrate their union in accord with the standard rituals of a traditional Hindu wedding.
Recent years have seen many positive developments across the world in favour of LGBTQ rights.
In late 2015, in the strictly Catholic country of Colombia, the constitutional court lifted restrictions on same-sex couples adopting children. The country had previously allowed same-sex couple to ‘marry’ in legal unions.
Ireland became the world’s first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular consensus back in 2015.
Also in 2015, the LGBTQ community in Mozambique celebrated the success of their campaign to decriminalise homosexuality.