Srishti Madurai has been running a helpline for the community for almost a decade now. It is well documented that Genderqueer and LGBTI+ people are vulnerable because there is no support system from the state.
In the experience of running the helpline, Srishti Madurai has observed that homelessness is one of the most serious challenges. LGBTI+ persons are vulnerable to homelessness as they are often forced to leave their family homes due to conflict within the family. The economic and physical conditions also compel individuals to choose sex work and begging to sustain themselves. These further exposes them to hostility and abuse from police and municipal authorities and makes it difficult to access government services.
Also, they encounter threats to their personal safety and security from family members, landlords and neighbors. Violence in the family can take the form of physical force, sexual violence, wrongful confinement, forced marriage, and involuntary institutionalization (which may include the use of “corrective therapies”).
Recently, several Supreme Court judgments have pronounced that the rights of LGBTI+ persons are fully protected by the Indian Constitution, in recognition of the discrimination faced by individuals due to their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, sex characteristics (SOGIESC). However, we do not have any mechanism at present which can protect them from homelessness which is a serious human rights violation. It is also critical to note the age bracket of those who leave their parental/ancestral home. More often than not, they fall in the age bracket of 18-30. The majority of cases relate to intersex persons, lesbian women and transgender persons who are transitioning from Female to Male (FTM).
In our view, the above-mentioned sections are particularly vulnerable because we have got to know about several cases of domestic sexual abuse and forced marriage. Also, it is important to note that most of the people who reached out to us are from a non-metropolitan or rural background. Our helpline provides assistance in both English and Tamil.
This issue has not received the attention of state authorities. Even the civil society organisations have not highlighted this issue at a major level. At Srishti Madurai, we have been constantly assisting LGBTI+ people who have reached out to us through the helpline.