Friday, September 10, 2004

Taking a step forward

Dear All

The Government of India, especially the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has commissioned the Humsafar Trust to write a position paper on the status of gay men, MSM and other sexual minorities in India as a first step towards a comprehensive policy document that will help in health programs across the country with a special focus on STI control and HIV/AIDS.

Last year and early into this year the Humsafar Trust completed two major tasks set for it. It was asked to help write up a comprehensive counseling manual for sexual minorities in Voluntary Confidential Counseling Testing Centres (VCCTCs) across India, This task was completed after a panel of psychiatrists and academics helped polish the preliminary manual started/written up by the Humsafar Trust. This manual was then extended further to include help in counseling other
sexual minorities and marginalised groups like victims of sexual assault, prison populations and vulnerable youth. This too was completed early this year.

The present work is generic in nature in that it has a set format for all vulnerable groups across the board starting with women vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, female sex workers and finally gay men, MSM and sexual minorities. The work is quite difficult as it has to be backed up by evidence, both through epidemiological data and sociological insights
in each case. However, thanks to friends all over the country, the first draft has been completed and written up in close collaboration with the Humsafar Trust's outreach and advocacy staff and looks quite comprehensive for the record.

Just as an aside, it has been observed that even a week after the Delhi High Court judgement threw out the PIL filed by the Naz (India) Foundation in the Delhi High Court, it doesn't seem to have occured to anybody that there is practivally no discourse, discussion or dialogue, on any lgbt list that I've been on, on the subject. Maybe the criminalisation of homosexuality in India doesn't seem to be of much concern to the emerging LGBT communities/identities in India. Or
maybe there are other concerns which seem to have been prioritised.

Be what it may, our position paper is ready and it has had to mention that the gay communty or MSM don't really care much about Section 377 or HIV/AIDS. That has been observed and noted. Thank you all for the

Ashok Row Kavi
The Humsafar Trust
Mumbai Metro


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