With over 8,000 candidates, the first vote after homosexuality was decriminalized will be a major one
The largest election in history is underway in India, and LGBTI groups are working tirelessly to ensure voters are mindful.
In the first election since the decriminalisation of Section 377 India, ‘The Pink List’ is a website compendium of all queer friendly Lok Sabha (India’s lower Parliament) candidates.
Anish Gawande, Devina Buckshee, and Smriti Deora together created the list, News 18 reported.
‘A good time to take stock ‘
Gawande, a 22-year-old Columbia University student, started the project. He said the list is a starting off point for larger activism in India.
‘We are at a very interesting place in the country right now,’ she said.
Discourse about gender rights has never been this strong and far-reaching. We thought it was a good time to take stock of where we stand in terms of political representation.’
Gawande returned to Hisar, Haryana last year in May to work with fresh-faced politicians.
But while touring the Maharashtra countryside for six months, Gawande had an idea.
‘Many think that fighting for queer rights is an urban phenomenon, that only voters and candidates in cities care about it.
‘But so many of the candidates on our list are lesser known faces who are doing groundbreaking work in rural as well as urban areas.’ That’s when the lightbulb moment came for The Pink List.
Who’s made the cut?
The Pink List is divided into four categories: Trailblazers, Changemakers, Outspoken Allies, Allies.
LGBTI candidates feature in the first list as they are leading the way for representation in Indian political systems.
Aam Aadmi Party’s Chirpi Bhawani, Durbal Ghatak Aghadi’s Jatin Mummy and Sneha Kale, and independent candidates Ashwathi Rajappan and Radha make up this category.
The second category are non-queer candidates whose policies would improve the lives of India’s queer community.
Furthermore, the list includes Congress big-names such as Sonia Gandhi, Sashi Tharoor and Milind Deora. Bharatiya Janata Party’s Joy Panda and HD Deve Gowday of Janata Dal (Secular) also join.
The list is not an endorsement
‘We aren’t saying these candidates are “better” that the rest because they support queer rights,’ co-founder Devina Buckshee said.
‘We just want to educate people about all the candidates who have a positive stance on queer rights and to what degree.’
Moreover, Gawande added: ‘The list includes many names across parties.
Some of the people who have put forth a pro-queer stand could just as easily have problematic views on Islamophobia, gender rights, caste oppression, and other systemic social issues.
‘Having a pro-LGBTQIA+ stand does not change any of that.’
Indian Elections 101
With around 900 million voters, almost 2,000 registered parties, and five weeks of voting, the Indian elections can seem cacophonous.
In seven phases over 39 days, voters casts ballots nationwide at a million polling stations spread across densely populated megacities and far-flung villages.
But each phase only lasts a single day, with the date varying by location.
Moreover, political pundits cannot simply shade the country’s patchwork of states, cultures, and various classes red or blue. In other words, it’s a kaleidoscopic country.
But as voters take to the polls, they will take stock of the country’s soaring unemployment rates, rising spates of violence, andfarmer’s frustrations as India’s agriculture is suffocated by drying policies.
Above all, who will lead the Lok Sabha will color the future of the country and its LGBTI community.
by Josh Milton
Source – Gay Star News