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Sensitizing panchayat leaders to end homophobia and transphobia: Lotus Sangam,Tamil Nadu

The Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, based Lotus Sangam, a community collective of men who have sex with men, has completed an innovative pilot sensitizing Panchayat leaders on issues of pen manam konda aangal (‘men with the feelings of women’), a term for kothis developed by the local community. Chennaiites caught a glimpse of their stage performance at Nirangal, Chennai Rainbow Pride’s queer cultural festival held in 2010.

We are pleased to report that this project has been recognized as an international success story in reducing stigma, and has been described in a manual on stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV in Ghana.

“Lotus used a careful process to develop and implement the theatre intervention. They conducted focus group interviews with men having sex with men and panchayat leaders to inform script development and provide baseline data for an evaluation. A member of Lotus wrote the script. Preparations also included organizing training for panchayat leaders about HIV and AIDS, men having sex with men, and transgender populations. Since public drama performances are a visible and important part of day-to-day cultural life in rural India, the project successfully built upon strengths the communities already had thus affirming community identity as valid and valuable. In total, Lotus organized 75 performances, reaching 270 panchayat leaders and approximately 11,250 villagers.”

Read the document 
(The Lotus case study is on pages 35-36.)

Orinam congratulates Muthukumar Natesan and colleagues at Lotus Sangam from Kumbakonam on their Advocacy by Cultural Teams project’s success. We look forward to seeing this initiative undertaken on a wider scale in the country!

For more information contact Muthukumar at muthukumar.news@gmail.com

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