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India Gets First Transgender TV News Anchor: VIDEO

Padmini-prakash-transgender-news-anchor

In another milestone for transgender people in India, a transwoman named Padmini Prakash, 31, has been hired as a news anchor.

Working up to this career, Prakash has held jobs as a dance instructor and soap opera actress, and she's also participated in transgender beauty pageants.

Prakash has worked for Lotus News in the Indian state Tamil Nadu since last August. One of her earliest breaks moving up the ladder came with a promotion to do the channel's daily 7 p.m. special bulletin, a hire motivated largely by Prakash's popularity with viewers.

But, despite this success story, Prakash says she's faced discrimination all her life, even cutting ties with family due to "pressure."

In a quote to the Times of India (via GLAAD), Prakash describes her anxiety in becoming an on-air anchor:

I was very worried because I also had to focus on my diction and maintain a steady narrative pace to ensure that there was clarity and viewers could understand me.

Check out video of Prakash in action, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "India Gets First Transgender TV News Anchor: VIDEO" »


Indian Government Objects to Supreme Court Ruling Recognizing Trans People As Third Gender

India's government is asking the country's Supreme Court to reconsider its landmark ruling back in April recognizing transgender people as a third gender, The Wall Street Journal reports:

IndiaThe government — led by the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party, which has deep roots in the country’s Hindu nationalist movement — said in an application to the Supreme Court that the transgender ruling “may pose problems both practically and politically” and asked for clarifications and changes.

The application complained that the court’s finding that the term transgender people can also apply to gay, lesbian and bisexual Indians, “seeks to create an ambiguity.” 

It also argued that on procedural grounds it would “not be proper” for the court to classify the transgender community as part of India’s backward classes, which are eligible for affirmative-action benefits.

Additionally, the government asked that the court to clarify the definition of "transgender." Approximately two million people are said to be transgender, or hijira, in India.

Homosexuality, meanwhile, is still criminalized in India after a stunning Supreme Court ruling last year. The Indian government has announced it has no plans to amend the newly reinstated law criminalizing homosexuality until the Supreme Court settles the issue. 


Moovz Gay Social Network Hires Out Actor Nakshatra Bagwe To Make Push For India

Bagwe

Moovz, a social network for gay men, has just signed Mumbai-based actor Nakshatra Bagwe as one of its international brand ambassadors. Bagwe, 23, came out publicly last year at India’s first LGBT-oriented flashmob, a decision that brought him to the attention of the Indian media and inspired him to begin filming a documentary about being gay in India. His modest rise to fame for coming out brought the young filmmaker’s project to the international independent film circuit

“The night I came home with my trophy my mother was waiting for me,” Bagwe said of winning his first award. “In the same dining room where I had my coming out five years before, she told me how proud she was of me.”

Launched in early January of this year, Moovz is built on the premise of encouraging its users to be open about who they are. Unlike hookup applications like Grindr and Hornet or web platforms like Adam4Adam, Moovz’s desktop and mobile applications are meant to foster community growth.

“This revolutionary platform enables users to share their own content, chat in real-time, and interact with others,” Moovz CEO Liav Eliash told the Huffington Post. “We believe that providing our Moovz platform for people around the globe who already have things in common will enable them to interact on a higher level and connect as a community."

Moovz’s move into India comes at an interesting time in the country’s position on its LGBT population. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalizes sexual acts "against the order of nature" like homosexuality, was declared as unconstitutional by the High Court of Delhi in 2009. India’s Supreme Court overturning the decision in 2013, asserting that any repeal of 377 would be a matter to be dealt with by Parliament rather than the judiciary body.

"[Moovz has] identified a big target group here and that the LGBT community is not any 'miniscule' section," Bagwe told the Hindustan Times. “It's time for us to come out as well and not feel shy about our sexuality.”

Watch a trailer for the Moovz social network AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Moovz Gay Social Network Hires Out Actor Nakshatra Bagwe To Make Push For India" »


Indian Government Moves to Axe Adoption Rights for Same-Sex Couples

India's Cabinet has decided to bar same-sex couples in the country from adopting children, Live Mint reports:

IndiaThe cabinet took the decision on Wednesday while considering amendments to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, a government official said. However, the draft Bill, which also covers rehabilitation and adoption of children, does not mention disallowing same-sex couples from adopting.

The current law allows unmarried men and women above the age of 30 to adopt. Single LGBT Indians are not specifically barred from adopting, but whether the cabinet decision will change this will become clear whenever the Bill is tabled in Parliament.

The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) guidelines prevent foreigners in same-sex relationships from adopting children in India.

Last year, India's Supreme Court reinstated a colonial-era ban on homosexuality with the Indian government saying last month they have no plans to amend or change the law until it is reviewed again by the high court.  


Female Indian Sprinter Fails 'Gender Test', Disqualified From Commonwealth Games

Dutee Chand

Dutee Chand, representing India, was disqualified last month from the 2014 Commonwealth Games after failing a gender test, reports Bustle. The test showed that 18-year-old Chand’s testosterone levels were above the range considered “normal” for female athletes.

In 2012, Chand became the 100-meter sprint national champion in the under-18 division.

After winning two gold medals for India during the 16th Asian Junior Championship in June, Sports Authority of India (SAI) officials subjected Chand to the test which ultimately ruled her ineligible to represent the country this month in Glasgow.

Chand said that she is "completely shattered" by the result.

In a press release, SAI said:

“Preliminary investigations indicate that the athlete is not fit for participation in a female event due to female hyperandrogenism. The athlete will still be able to compete in the female category in future if she takes proper medical help and lowers her androgen level to the specified range. We reiterate that these test results do not determine her gender. The test simply tells us that she has excess androgen in her body and is therefore not eligible to compete in the female category.”

Hyperandrogenism, a medical condition in which an excessive amount of testosterone is produced by the body, is often the result of polycystic ovary syndrome and cal also manifest as a result of hyperactive adrenal glands or as the result of an intersex condition.

Bustle notes that although setting standards in sport is designed to eliminate “unfair” advantage, Chand is a woman who happens to naturally produce more testosterone than the average woman:

“If we are to believe that the advantages brought on by Chand’s naturally-produced hormones should be reason enough to disqualify her from competing against other women, where does this stop? If a women’s basketball player happens to be six inches taller than an arbitrary range of acceptable heights, should she be sent to play against men? Yes, that basketball player may be an outlier, and yes, Chand’s testosterone levels may make her an outlier, but isn’t that what professional athletes are? Isn’t that what makes watching sports so entertaining in the first place? The world’s greatest athletes aren’t average; they are outliers.

“It’s unfortunate that Chand, whose body chemistry may predispose her to athletic success, will need to take medication to curb her own gifts, and to return her to the 'normal' range. It’s unfortunate that in today’s world we have yet to realize that normal is subjective; that neither women nor men fall neatly into these arbitrarily-defined boxes of acceptable.

Writes Kalpana Sharma in The Hindu:

Our sport authorities need to be educated. Urgently. They need a crash course in understanding human biology, that there is no clear binary between male and female and that there are many conditions in-between.  But clearly, this knowledge, that has now become fairly commonplace, has failed to trickle down to those controlling Indian athletics.  They continue to believe that testing testosterone levels will conclusively establish whether a woman athlete is indeed a woman!

 So even as women athletes are bringing home medals from the Commonwealth Games, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the Athletics Federation if India (AFI) will be better remembered for denying, virtually at the last minute, the chance for one of our most promising runners to compete in these games in Glasgow.


Indian Government Has No Plans To Amend Law Criminalizing Gay Sex Until Supreme Court Reviews It For Third Time

6a00d8341c730253ef01a5115c88a1970c-800wiThe Indian government has announced it has no plans to change a colonial-era law reinstated by the country’s Supreme Court in December 2013 that criminalizes gay sex, making it an offence punishable with life in prison. India Today reports: 

The government on Tuesday said it has no plans to amend Section 377 of the IPC, criminalising sex among homosexuals, till the issue is settled by the Supreme Court.

"No. The matter is sub-judiced before the Supreme Court. A decision regarding Section 377 of IPC can be taken only after pronouncement of judgement by the Supreme Court," Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told Lok Sabha in a written reply.

He was replying to a question on whether the government proposes to amend or repeal Section 377 of the IPC.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision that re-instated section 377, the Indian government asked the court to reconsider its ruling. In January of this year the court refused that request stating it was up to lawmakers to amend the law if they want. While no action has come from legislators in the intervening period, the Indian high court has consented to review its previous ruling thanks to a successful “curative petition” that was led by gay rights activists and organizations:  “[The] curative petition is the last judicial resort available for redressal of grievances in court and it is normally considered by judges in-chamber without granting opportunity to parties to argue the case.”


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