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Engendered Joins Activist Groups Around The World

Engendered Joins Activist Groups Around The World to Celebrate

TWO Monumental Decisions That Mark A

Watershed Moment in Trans-National LGBT Rights History  



(July 2, 2009New York, NY) In an historic judgment on Thursday, the Delhi High Court legalized homosexuality in India by reading down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The court ruled that Section 377, as it criminalizes gay sex among consenting adults, is a violation of fundamental rights, and New York’s trans-national arts and human rights organization, Engendered, which hosted the first-ever South Asian Queer Leaders Summit at the Asia Society just last week, applauds the Indian lawmakers for reaching this monumental decision. “I would like to heartily congratulate the thousands of gay rights activists in India who have been fighting the big fight on the ground by filing petition after petition to win this battle for their freedom and equality,” says Myna Mukherjee, the Executive Director of Engendered. “This decision comes at an opportune time when South Asian queer leaders around the world are focused on engaging the larger community to create dialogue about issues of same-sex marriage and immigration policy.”


Last week’s South Asian Queer Leaders Summit in New York hosted panelists from Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, and all over the United States, who gathered to discuss “the state of the community.” One of the panelists, Aditya Bondyopadhyay, was the leading litigator for the Naz Foundation, an Indian non-profit focused on HIV/AIDS prevention, and filed the original petition challenging Section 377 in the Delhi High Court in 2001. “This is an historic first, but yet not the end,” says Bondyopadhyay, who echoed similar sentiments during his panel discussions at the Queer Leaders Summit last week. “I hope this will encourage the Indian government to no longer pander to the vested, religious-based voting banks and rather look again at India’s secular and democratic constitutional values.” For the entire audio transcripts from the three panels at last week’s Queer Leaders Summit focused on “Institutions,” “Movements,” and “Syntheses and Strategies,” please visit the following link:


South Asian historian and gay rights activist, Mario D’Penhna, who was a panelist and moderator of the Queer Leaders Summit, argues that besides the reading down of Section 377 being a major legal verdict, its nuanced language focuses on the social and emotional aspects of decriminalizing homosexuality. “What is fantastic about the ruling is the Delhi High Court’s understanding of how Section 377 subjected queer people to prejudice, discrimination, and violence,” says D’Penha. “What is even better is that it grounded equality, inclusiveness, and a respect for minorities as a bedrock of the Indian Constitution and based its ruling on these constitutional values.” 


Also this week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued renewed travel and immigration regulations lifting the HIV/AIDS ban from the immigration process, thus providing immigration relief to thousands of HIV positive immigrants. “The last few days have been amazing and historic for sexuality and human rights organizing, especially from a trans-national scope,” says Debanuj Dasgupta, a gay and immigrations rights activist in India and the United States. “While these regulations have not gone into effect yet, we applaud the issuance of such regulations and call for a prompt application of them.”


About Engendered:

Engendered is an annual, New York-based trans-national arts and human rights festival that brings together the best in contemporary South Asian cinema, visual arts, and performance to explore the complex realities of gender and sexuality in modern South Asia, especially at the intersection of ritual and religion. The festival is designed not only to raise awareness, but also to act as a fulcrum to enter public dialogue, break silences, and impact perceptions around issues of gendered identities, stereotyping, bias and sexual choice and further, how those issues relate to affirmation or violations of human rights, health rights, and women's rights. For more information about Engendered, please visit


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