Chennai- Tamil Nadu government’s liberal step to formulate an eleven-member committee to draft a policy suited to the needs of the Queer community is entering a new stage of public consultation. Many members from the community are waiting in anticipation for the details of the policy and the steps that would be taken for the community as such an initiative is rare in India.
The Tamil Nadu LGBTQIA+ draft policy’s public consultation meeting is scheduled to take place in Chennai on January 20. This meeting is a significant step in the formulation of policies that aim to address the concerns and rights of the LGBTQIA+ community in the state.
The Mooknayak talked to professor Tiju Thomas, who is a professor at IIT Madras and also a member of the drafting committee, about the future they envision with the policy consultation. At the very beginning of the conversation, the teacher asserted that aspects of the policy in itself cannot be revealed as it is yet to be put out to the public.
Opening up about the public consultation, the professor said, “Most importantly, we are looking for an inclusive approach. The LGBTQIA+ community is broad with a lot of diversity, variation and varied experiences. There are different requirements for individuals. We would like to come up with a comprehensive understanding for the betterment of the community.”
Talking about the recent Madras High Court’s judgement, professor Thomas explained, “One of the things we are doing in addition to the public consultation is to look into the full history of legal jurisprudence and development that has been happening in the country for the improvement of the life of LGBTQIA+ people. Among the things that we have taken into account is the recent direction by the Madras High Court directing the state government to include horizontal reservation for the transgender community.”
“Full details will be revealed soon. It will be a broad consultation and everyone within this umbrella would be listened to.”
The initiative is being led by the Transgender Welfare Board, operating under the Tamil Nadu Social Welfare Department. The board has actively encouraged both individuals and organizations to participate in the upcoming consultation process. To ensure an organized event, interested parties have been requested to register for the meeting. The registration form can be accessed from here. The link is in Tamil and has a number of simple questions asking about the identity of the registrant.
The meeting, scheduled to begin at 10:30 am on 20th January, will take place at the Commissionerate of Social Welfare located in Kamarajar Salai, Chennai. After the public consultation meeting, the drafted policy is slated to be submitted to the government for further consideration.
The draft policy itself has been formulated by an 11-member committee, with the director of social welfare heading the group. This committee has worked on drafting a comprehensive policy that reflects the diverse needs and challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ community in the state. The committee comprises various individuals with diverse backgrounds and expertise. Kalaimamani Sudha, a transgender activist associated with the NGO Sahodaran, is a member, alongside Arun Karthick, a trans man, and Dr. Vidhya Dinakaran, a psychologist, both representing the Tamil Nadu Transgender Welfare Board. L. Ramakrishnan, the vice president of SAATHII, Chandramoulee, co-founder of Queer Chennai Chronicles, Vinodhan, an intersex and Dalit activist, Busaina Ahamed Shah, an LGBTQIA+ activist, and Ajeetha BS, a Madras High Court advocate, are also part of the committee. Tiju Thomas, an Associate Professor at IIT Madras, serves as a member. The joint director of the Directorate of Social Welfare acts as the coordinator for the committee.
History of the Drafting Committee:
The Tamil Nadu government had taken a significant step towards the formulation of a comprehensive policy for the LGBTQIA+ community within the state. A Government Order (GO) issued on 21st June 2023, by the Principal Secretary to the Social Welfare and Women Empowerment Department, officially announced the creation of an 11-member committee dedicated for finalizing the policy. The committee is being headed by the director of social welfare.
The initiative to develop this policy began when, in October 2022, the State Planning Commission presented an initial draft to Chief Minister MK Stalin. This draft, specifically focused on addressing the needs and concerns of the LGBTQIA+ community, was subsequently forwarded to the Social Welfare and Women Empowerment department in November 2022 for further consideration.
Recognizing the importance of diverse perspectives and inclusivity in the policymaking process, the Director of Social Welfare proposed the constitution of a drafting committee in February 2023. The objective was to include individuals from the LGBTQIA+ community in this committee, ensuring that their insights and experiences contribute to the formulation of a policy that reflects their needs.