Gay consciousness on the rise in India’s outermost stateOnline Only, Top Highlights, Around the World Thursday, July 17th, 2014
Assam, an Indian state of some 30 million people located in the country’s Northeastern corner, is known for many things. It has been designated as one of the richest biodiversity zones in the world, is the last refuge for a number of threatened species including the Bengal Florican, the white-rumped vulture and the one-horned rhinoceros and Assam boasts a richness of natural resources from petroleum to coal to natural gas.
But for all of its splendor, what Assam lacks is any sort of recognition, let alone acknowledgement, of the state’s growing LGBT community. And that is about to change according to the Times of India. On Saturday, a group of young women announced the formation of ‘Sukia’, Assam’s first collective organization working to support the region’s LGBT community. Discussing the limited awareness of homosexuality in India, Meenakshi Bujorbaruah, one of the founders of Sukia, said, “We want to reach out to the people at the grass roots level. There is too much social stigma attached to homosexuality, and gay people fear to disclose themselves due to this.”
To that end, the group is organizing a three-day national event in Guwahati, a major commercial and educational hub, next month to create awareness about the rights of homosexuals in India. The national event is to be held from Aug. 8-10 with the help of other national and international organizations. The program will include debates, discussions and the showcasing of regional, national and international films in the region’s first ‘Queer Film Festival’.
But, not unsurprisingly, more conservative elements in the state are working at cross purposes to Sukia. According to the Times, prior to February’s Pride festival, one of the organizations they were working with had their office vandalized.
But, still, the group remains unfazed. “It is a collective of mostly young women and others to take forward LGBT activism in the region. Sukia envisages to one day make its mark in forming a strong LGBT mass movement, creating a gay friendly Assam,” said Gayatri Bhuyan, another co-founder, undeterred by the obstacles in their path to bring about a more conscious and accepting society.
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