Involving queer voices in politics is an essential step towards acceptance. Politicians have the power to implement change on a widespread scale. At the very least they can ensure that the situation regarding discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t escalate. Considering India’s history of passing bills that harm the queer community, queer voices must weigh in on certain decisions. Listed below are openly queer Indian politicians.
1. Shabnam Mausi
Shabnam ‘Mausi’ Bano is the first transgender Indian to become an MLA. She was elected member of the Madhya Pradesh State Legislative Assembly from 1998 till 2003. Her father gave her away shortly after her birth to protect his social image. While she was a member of the Legislative Assembly she focused on fighting corruption, poverty, unemployment, and hunger. She also spoke out against discrimination against transgender people, hijras, eunuchs, and raised awareness about HIV/AIDS.
“I have grown up being called a hijra. That word was like a thorn, which kept piercing me.”
2. Madhu Kinnar
Madhu Bai Kinnar is India’s only openly transgender mayor. She is the mayor of Raighar in Chhattisgarh, India. Madhu won the mayoral election of the Raigarh Municipal Corporation running as an independent candidate. She belongs to the Dalit community and left her family to join the local transgender community as a teenager. India’s two previous transgender municipal leaders, Kamla Jaan and Kamala Kinnar’s candidacy was declared ‘null and void’ for contesting in the female category. The Supreme Court had declared the transgender community a legal third gender nine months before Madhu was elected.
3. Gopi Shankar Madurai
Gopi Shankar Madurai was the first openly intersex and genderqueer candidate to contest in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly election in 2016. In August 2020 he was appointed as the South Regional representative in the National Council for Transgender Persons. Shankar is a social activist and the founder of Srishti Madurai Volunteer Movement. It launched India’s first helpline for intersex, genderqueer and LBGTQ+ people at Madurai.
4. Apsara Reddy
Apsara Reddy is a transgender woman who is a politician and journalist. She was appointed as the National General Secretary of All India Mahila Congress on 8 January 2019. Reddy has worked with The Hindu, BBC World Service, New Indian Express, and Deccan Chronicle. She said,
“I come from a background where I was exposed to many prejudices and injustices quite early on. The hypocrisy and discrimination only motivated me to work against injustice. India is being governed by forces that place far more importance on religious identity than the rights and dignity of women.”
5. Gautam Raghavan
Gautam Raghavan is an openly gay Indian American political advisor. He served as the associate director of the Office of Public Liaison in the Obama administration. Currently he is the Deputy Director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office. When he was the associate director, he facilitated conversations on issues that impacted the LGBTQ+ community.
6. Sneha Kale
Sneha Kale is the first transgender woman to contest Lok Sabha polls from Mumbai. She ran as an independent candidate focusing on rights of the transgender community and other neglected communities. She said, in an interview,
“I have been attached to the community for a long time now. We face all sorts of discrimination, disappointment and no acceptance in society. There are many communities like us who have no recognition in the society.”
7. Jatin Mummy
Jatin Mummy is a transgender politician from Jogati Devdasi Samaj who contested for the Lok Sabha elections. There were 123 transgender voters in Mumbai North East, and most of them decided to campaign door-to-door in support of Jatin.
“The government has ignored us for long. I am determined to give in my best to contest this election as it is for a good cause.”