Image Source: KuwarOnline via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Following the Supreme Court rulings that asserted transgender identity and rights (NALSA vs. Union of India and Ors., 2014) and decriminalised consensual relations among queer/trans adults (Navtej Singh Johar and Ors. vs. Union of India, 2018), it seemed inevitable that LGBTIQA+ people and issues would increasingly be part of the political landscape.

Collated on this page are links to party manifestos or descriptions of these, information on individuals from the LGBTIQA+ communities who have joined political parties (including those contesting), community demands, media coverage, etc. Transgender women are the demographic  most prominently represented on the electoral landscape, besides one intersex person (Chinju Aswathi), contesting as an independent candidate from Ernakulam, Kerala.

As you read the party manifestos below, bear in mind that mere inclusion of transgender or LGBTIQ+ issues may not be a reliable indicator of the party’s inclusivity or commitment to rights of our communities. For instance, while transgender persons do find a mention in BJP’s manifesto, a BJP MLA from UP had no qualms about casting aspersions on the gender of BSP chief Mayawati and calling her “worse than a transgender” in January 2019. The homophobia in BJP parliamentarian Nishikant Dubey’s quips against Rahul Gandhi , the vitriol of BJP MP Subramanian Swamy and Rajnath Singh’s  vehement lack of support for decriminalization in 2013, [see compilation by ScoopWhoop]  are no secrets, and leave one with little faith in the inclusiveness of the incumbent party (assuming one wanted more evidence than the points in this petition).

The Congress appears to be the most consistent in backing LGBTIQ  rights, based on statements made by Rahul Gandhi on 377, the INC’s tweet in solidarity with the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, and the party’s  laudatory statement following the Johar verdict reading down Section 377. Nevertheless, as pointed out by Galaxy Magazine, it is curious that the makers of INC’s video for its Ab Hoga Nyay campaign thought fit to crop out the word ‘Gay’ from footage of the 2013 protests against the Koushal verdict.

In terms of willingness to listen to community demands and concerns, we acknowledge CPI(M)’s thoughtful consideration of several issues such as an inclusive trans bill, recognition of same-sex relationships, horizontal reservations for transgender persons, and addressing homophobic/transphobic bullying in educational institutions. We are also delighted at the accessibility of their manifesto (audio versions available) and attention to disability issues.

We appreciate the efforts made by many of the Communist parties to elicit input from queer/trans members of student groups. However it is evident that their understanding of LGBTIQA+ is quite limited: the more inclusive ‘transgender’ is limited to trans women in Tamil and Hindi versions, terms referring to lesbian, gay and bi are confined to ‘orinaccherkkai’ (ஓரினச்சேர்க்கை: same-sex behaviour, instead of ஒரு பால் ஈர்ப்பு: same-sex orientation/attraction), and so on.

Parties that have included LGBTIQA+ issues in manifestos

  • Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M): [manifesto]
  • Indian National Congress [manifesto]
  • Bharatiya Janata Party [description in Economic Times]
  • Dravida Kazhagam’s  Dravidian manifesto (non-electoral)
  • Communist Party of India [manifesto]
  • Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation [manifesto]
  • Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) RedStar [manifesto English, Tamil]

Election demands from the LGBTIA+ communities

Candidates

Out LGBTIQA+ members of political parties (other than election candidates)

  • Tamil Nadu
    • Apsara Reddy, Indian National Congress [The Hindu]
  • Maharashtra
    • Disha Pinky Shaikh, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) [The Hindu]
    • Priya Patil, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) [The Hindu]
    • Harish Iyer, Indian National Congress [India Today]
  •   Odisha

Election Ambassadors and Party Observers

Other Media Analyses of LGBTIQ+ and Elections