- Hosted transgender and LGBT community from all across India in a vibrant half-day event that had sharings and discussions on what needs to change at the policy, programme and community level to “normalise” lives for the “third gender”.
11th September, 2018, NEW DELHI: Building on the huge success of the last six Hijra Habbas (amalgamation of transgenders) was the 7th annual Hijra Habba that dwelled on the theme of is ‘Born This Way- Access, Rights, Equity and Empowerment for Transgender’. Organised by Alliance India, the half day event that was scheduled for 11th September at Select CITYWALK, Saket between 4pm and 8pm at the Amphitheatre area saw the first ever “Transgender Life Exhibition: Trans awareness village” that was specially created in a public space, drawing in a cross-cultural section of society to witness, experience and learn from how one of the most marginalised and stigmatised groups has been steadfast in holding their ground and finding ways to integrate themselves in mainstream society.
Commenting on the initiative, Yogeshwar Sharma, Executive Director & CEO, Select CITYWALK, said, “Select CITYWALK believes in equality, well-being and empowerment of all communities. The LGBT community has been “REBORN” after the Supreme Court’s recent historical judgement on decriminalisation of Section 377.”
He further said, “We feel that through this special initiative ‘Hijra Habba’, people will get a closer look into the lives of transgenders. The event will also bring together leading transgender activists who will deliberate on progressing equality and access for TGH community.”
According to Sonal Mehta, Chief Executive, India HIV/AIDS Alliance, “Getting legal sanction is the first legitimate step towards ensuring a more equal level playing field for the LGBT community. The real challenge now is in altering attitudes and behaviours of people and working three-fold – to increase solidarity within and empower; sensitise and engage with policy makers; and educate masses through shared platforms that include members of the community and general population.”
What made this year’s event even more significant was the announcement made on 6th September 2018 which saw India emerge victorious with respect to law and love. The five bench Supreme Court unanimously reached judgment on IPC Section 377 making the country really free for everyone – including gay and homosexual for the first time since 1861. This has further paved the way for a more open dialogue on the subject. With an impressive line-up of celebrities from the entertainment industry, corporate and development sector, there were short presentations and interactive conversations on socio-political and legal aspects that define the existence of the transgender and hijra community.
The earlier Hijra Habbas have contributed significantly to create awareness about the issues faced by the Transgender community, advocate with policy makers and help bring on board a host of transgender activists from across the country to join hands as they lobby with governments, seek funding for their projects, reach out to those who need support and encourage more and more people to step forward to join the movement.
There is increasing need for the general population to interact and engage with the transgender, hijra and LGBT community members to recognize the persons behind that identity and going beyond just sex and gender. Which is what makes Hijra Habba, the signature activity of Alliance India so relevant. What started in 2010 as part of Alliance India’s Pehchan project that aimed to organise transgender people and bring the leaders out to engage in the HIV programme, the Hijra Habba event has grown from having 60 transgenders in 2010 to over 450 in 2017. This in turn encouraged hundreds of members from the NCR to come out in the open to cheer and applaud the front runners at the public event at Saket last year. This year, the numbers turned out to be much larger.
It is hoped that events like Hijra Habba will increase visibility of transgender people, give them more equal rights, create greater acceptance and opportunity for them to find jobs and claim victory in the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 which is still dragging its feet. This year’s theme “Born this way!” was an attempt to build a bridge and bring together the transgender community and general public. Apart from the Transgender Life Exhibition: Trans awareness village saw leading transgender activists from Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, South India region, West Bengal, Bihar and Gujarat share their work and products in an impressive line up of jewellery, clothes and make up stalls. There were cultural performances from several regional groups and short presentations on the experience of transgenders in their work on transgender rights with governments and policy makers, on forming networks and efforts of collectivization, issues faced by specific communities like the Jogappa community in south India and how some transgender groups are working to support children of women in sex work in an effort to give back to society.
The half day event at Select CITYWALK from 4pm to 8pm provided ample opportunity to interview these transgender activists and pathbreakers as also witness cultural presentations.
About Select CITYWALK: Select CITYWALK the most admired shopping centre, representing one of the most recognized landmark, is leading the retail revolution and ‘happiness’ quotient for discerning shoppers of India since last 10 years.
An iconic retail destination and top grosser for over 200 brands, the shopping centre is the first choice of launch pads for international brands such as Chanel, Zara, H&M etc. Select CITYWALK is a responsible, equally vibrant, upscale and cutting-edge shopping centre.
An ISO certified, audited and responsible organization, the shopping centre is among the leaders in environmental management with zero discharge of waste and water.
About India HIV/AIDS Alliance: Founded in 1999, India HIV/AIDS Alliance is a non-governmental organisation operating in partnership with civil society, government and communities to support sustained responses to HIV in India that protect rights and improve health. Complementing the Indian national programme, we build capacity, provide technical support and advocate to strengthen the delivery of effective, innovative, community-based HIV programmes to vulnerable populations affected by the epidemic.