The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, disability, language, religion, place of birth, caste, or social status; the government worked with varying degrees of success to enforce these provisions.
Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
In 2009 the Delhi High Court overturned a portion of section 377 of the penal code, which had prohibited same-sex sexual activity. During the year the Supreme Court heard appeals from groups and individuals opposed to the ruling. In Supreme Court hearings on February 23, Additional Solicitor General P.P. Malhotra told the court that homosexuality was immoral and was causing the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country. His arguments were followed by those of the health ministry lawyer, who countered that there was “no error in decriminalizing gay sex.” The government later clarified that it supported the legalization of homosexuality and abolishment of section 377, and it replaced Malhotra with Mohan Jain as its counsel in the case. The Supreme Court had not rendered a judgment on the appeal by year’s end. The abolished clause continued to be used sporadically to target, harass, and punish lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons.
Although LGBT groups were active throughout the country, sponsoring events and activities including rallies, gay pride marches, film series, and speeches, they faced discrimination and violence throughout society, particularly in rural areas. Activists reported that transgender persons who were HIV positive often had difficulty obtaining medical treatment. Activists also reported that some employers fired LGBT persons who were open about their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT persons also faced physical attacks, rape, and blackmail. Some police committed crimes against LGBT persons and used the threat of arrest to coerce victims not to report the incidents. Several states, with the aid of NGOs, offered police education and sensitivity training.
The benefits accorded to transgender persons varied across the country. Tamil Nadu established a transgender welfare board in 2008 and provided separate identity and ration cards to transgender persons. In 2010 the state of Karnataka announced that transgender persons would be included in the “Backward Classes” list, making them eligible for pensions, ration cards, and housing assistance under a reservation scheme. The National Legal Services Authority included transgender persons in the definition of marginalized groups, enabling access to free legal aid.
In February a study by Mission for Indian Gay and Lesbian Empowerment (MINGLE) reported that nearly 80 percent of staffers in 17 organizations surveyed had heard homophobic comments in their offices. The LBGT 2012 workplace survey report reported that nearly 30 percent of the homophobic remarks came from managers.
On April 12, a transgender woman, Diya Rai, filed a complaint with the West Bengal Human Rights Commission alleging that police in Baguiati illegally detained her at the police station for nine hours and taunted her about her sexuality. She was released without being charged and alleged that police made her sign a “personal bond” to never return to the area.
On March 19, the MSJE informed parliament that the ECI had directed the chief electoral officers in all states to modify electoral rolls to include the option of “other” under sex for eunuchs and transgender persons.