Government and society have a responsibility to bring the queer community into the mainstream, said Higher Education and Social Justice Minister R. Bindu.
She was addressing Edam, a queer community gathering, held at the Kerala Sahitya Akademi hall here on Saturday as part of the 20th anniversary of Sahayathrika, an organization that works with the community.
“Ongoing awareness programs are needed in society to prepare it to accept the queer community into the mainstream. The LDF government is committed to their welfare. Stay-at-home, health support and scholarships are among the welfare measures initiated for the welfare of the community,” the minister said. The government will provide financial support for sex reassignment operations, she added.
Delivering the keynote address, AK Jayasree, Head of Department of Community Medicine at Pariyaram Medical College, urged the government to come up with guidelines for reimbursing expenses for gender reassignment surgeries.
Without such guidelines, it is difficult to get reimbursed for private hospital bills, she said, while calling for a ban on conversion therapy, an attempt to change people’s sexual orientation. a person to align with heterosexual and cisgender norms.
Dr. Jayasree recalled the political interventions the Sahayathrika made to create space for the queer community in society.
“There was a time when society considered the very existence of homosexual people a crime. Now we have a transgender policy in the state and social measures declared by the government. Sahayathrika and her managing director Deepa Vasudev have played a crucial role in this transformation,” she said.
Social activists who spearheaded Sahayathrika’s activities were honored at the ceremony. Seminars were organized on the themes “Love, sexualities and celebrations” and “Queer community and health challenges”.
Actor Shakeeela will open the programs on Sunday. Seminars on “From the Margins to the Mainstream” and “Pathways to Social Justice” will be held. Dalit activist Rekha Raj, queer activist Sheethal Shyam, transgender poet Vijayaraja Mallika and others spoke.