Thursday, August 27, 2015

The saga of struggle...

In contemporary society, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) issues have gained attention from both political and academic spheres. In few countries, such as few states in US and in UK, legal sanction of marriage between same-sex partners is hailed as a big turn in the fight for LGBT rights. Campaigners in UK who spent years battling for the legalization of gay marriage saw the historic law enacted at midnight on 28th March, 2014, despite objections from the Church of England and some members of the Conservative party. On June 26, 2015, United States Supreme court declared the ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional and made it legal nationwide. In India too, in a significant step, the Supreme Court on 15th April, 2014 recognized the transgender community as a third gender along with male and female, to be given reservation on par with Other Backward Castes in government jobs.
But this was preceded by another Supreme Court bench judgment that rejected a progressive Delhi High court judgment decriminalizing of Section 377, an 1861 colonial law banning same-sex behaviour among consenting adults, which is punishable upto 10-years in prison. Instead, the Supreme Court wanted the Indian Parliament to change the law. Moreover, the judgment cited lack of evidence of stigma and discrimination faced by the LGBT groups from police and health officials: “While reading down Section 377 IPC, the Division Bench of the High Court overlooked that a minuscule fraction of the country’s population constitute lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders and in last more than 150 years less than 200 persons have been prosecuted (as per the reported orders) for committing offence under Section 377 IPC and this cannot be made sound basis for declaring that section ultra vires the provisions of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution" (Supreme Court, 2013, p. 83).
Although there are several studies with LGBT community (e.g., Hayes & Gelso, 1993; Blake  et al., 2001), even in India (Chakrapani et al., 2002) most of these studies focus on health aspect of this community within the framework of sexual deviance or sexually transmitted disease (STDs), expert driven top-down interventions that may further stigmatize the group (Dutta & Desouza, 2008). Increasingly, scholars are challenging the effectiveness of health campaigns generated by powerful nation-states at the center (primarily the United States and the United Kingdom) and directed at periphery nations of the world system (India, Nepal, Mexico, South Africa, etc.) In spite of several years of campaign work, failure of the expert-driven health advocacy campaigns to check HIV/AIDS rates implies the need for new methods and theories in health communication to help solve heath issues, which will require a broader conceptualization of what constitutes as health. I feel there is a need for a broader conceptualization of health. 

References:

Blake,S. M., Ledsky, R., Lehman,T., Goodenow, C., Sawyer, R. &  Hack, T. (2001):Preventing sexual risk behaviors among gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents: the benefits of gay-sensitive HIV instruction in schools.

Chakrapani, V., Kavi, A.R., Ramakrishnan, L.R., Gupta, R., Rappoport, C., Raghavan, S.S. (2002): HIV Prevention among Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) in India: Review of Current Scenario and Recommendations.

Dutta, M. J. & De Souza, R. (2008): The Past, Present, and Future of Health Development Campaigns: Reflexivity and the Critical-Cultural Approach, Health Communication, 23:4, 326-339

Hayes, JA. & Gelso, CJ. (1993): Male counselors' discomfort with gay and HIV-infected clients.
 



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