A large group of people stand facing the camera holding pride flags and cheering

Grantee stories

Mobilising movements to improve the law for LGBTQI+ rights

Grantee Partner: The Humsafar Trust

Grant type: Network

Priorities: Violence, Stigma

Country: India

The Humsafar Trust was founded in 1994 to serve the spectrum of LGBTQI+ rights in India. As part of this, they strengthen the advocacy, research, and communication capacities of community based LGBTQI+ organisations in India to respond to violations of health, human and legal rights.

Promoting legal and social acceptance of LGBTQI+ communities in India

The Humsafar Trust with support from AmplifyChange initiated Project CONNECT in 2016. This project supported the Integrated Network for Sexual Minorities (INFOSEM) to work with parliamentarians, policy makers, police, the judiciary, and health officials at national and community levels to overturn the archaic Section 377 of the Penal Code criminalising homosexuality in 2018. They also helped improve the health and human rights of sexual minorities and increase social acceptance of LGBTQI+ communities. Their comprehensive data analysis was filed in the Supreme Court of India highlighting human rights violations during the court case hearings for the reading down of Section 377 which made intimate relationships between same sex couples illegal.

Following their successes in supporting the decriminalising of same sex sex relationships in India by the Supreme Court in 2018, INFOSEM has been rolling out a community awareness campaigns which includes a national level coalition of CONNECT partners to disseminate the findings of Supreme Court judgement and take community inputs on the way forward for LGBTQI+ communities.

The Network and Humsafar have since been promoting larger rights and INFOSEM became a petitioner in the Supreme Court of India for Marriage Equality rights. Unfortunately the judgement was not in the favour of the communities. Moving forward, much more needs to be done towards attaining equal rights for the LGBTQI+ communities in India.

Through other projects that Humsafar implemented post-closure of the CONNECT project, efforts are also being made to strengthen capacities of the 30 CONNECT partners across India.

A group of people in bright coloured saris hold pride flags and signs that say 'The Humsafar Trust'

Working to amend the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016

Continuing their focus on addressing discriminatory policies in India, grantee partners and their networks across India including HIV/AIDS Alliance India, The Humsafar Trust, SAATHI together with the Human Rights Law Network, turned their attention to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill of 2016.

The Bill was passed into law in the year 2019 but was unacceptable to the transgender and hijra communities. It did not incorporate the specific directions given by the Supreme Court to the Central Government, nor the extensive inputs from civil society. Substantial work is now required to make changes to the law.

The movement of organisations which brings together transgender activists and legal organisations are seeking to bring about appropriate amendments to the law. This includes conducting regional and national consultations on transgender rights to ensure that voices are heard, so that the law is amended.

Lessons learned                                                                   

  • Sustained support enables civil society organisations to achieve policy gains and then continue to ensure practical implementation
  • Sustained capacity building of civil society groups enhanced their skills enabling them to take ownership and increase their work. This resulted in high impact activities leading to positive outcomes
  • Strengthening coalitions builds the resilience of small civil society groups which enables them to better respond to any setbacks on the way to achieving success

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