The Hush Post: The seventh Hijra Habba was organised recently just a day after the Supreme Court verdict which decriminalised gay marriages and sex.
The five bench Supreme Court unanimously gave a verdict on IPC Section 377 making the country really free for everyone – including gay and homosexual for the first time since 1861. The seventh annual Hijra Habba, which has grown since 2012 when it was first organised saw a large outpouring of emotions, commitment and coming together of people.
Organised by India HIV/AIDS Alliance, the theme this year, ‘Born This Way-Access, Rights, Equity and Empowerment for Transgender’, resonated powerfully with transgender advocates, international agencies and health organisations who shared their messages in what was clearly a very upbeat and progressive mood.
”The idea of holding the event in a popular space shows just how society is responding to what has for long been a closeted issue. The city of Delhi responded extremely favourably to the idea of including the third gender in their lives”, said Simran Shaikh, anchor to the show and senior programme officer at Alliance India.
Cricketer Gautam Gambhir inaugurated the programme. It was commemorated in the traditional way by the master of ceremonies, Abhina Aher and Simran Shaikh. He was quick to point out with conviction that, “the country cannot go forward without leaving anyone behind. Taking all along and ensuring there is no difference amongst any fellow Indians is the only way forward and more Indians must step forward to support the cause.”
Sonal Mehta, Chief Executive, India HIV/AIDS Alliance urged all the dignitaries to share their short messages with the large gathering, quipping that their support and financial aid would be instrumental in ensuring that the 8th Hijra Habba in 2019 is held with the same gusto and enthusiasm. At the end of the event, she added “This event was extremely crucial just after the judgement on Section 377 has come out because after the law, it is time for a change in the mindset of the people. We are all human beings and the community deserves equal respect”.
Dr Bhavani Singh of NACO gave out a very brave message by urging members of the hijra, transgender, kinnar and LGBT community to use condoms and to take safety in their hands, since they were at greater vulnerability, not just to HIV and AIDS but to other sexually transmitted infections too.
Dr Timothy H. Holtz from the Division of Global HIV and Tuberculosis, CDC India, pleaded with the simple message of “take me as I am” extending this plea to all communities, individuals and age groups. He said that the recent SC judgment had in a single stroke reduced the irrational, indefensible and arbitrary aspects of the law. He said that this amendment now paves the way for another round of advocacy for the rights to health, treatment, equality, property, justice, dignity and privacy and that there was no time to relent or get complacent.