Glimpses of activities performed by Sappho for Equality (SFE) from April 2013 to March 2014
A. ACTIVITIES TO EMPOWER, CAPACITATE AND BRING OUT THE COLLECTIVE VOICE DEMANDING RIGHTS OF THE LBT COMMUNITY PERSONS
1. Organising Empowerment Workshops, Including the Annual Residential Workshop and Sappho’s Birthday Celebration for Members, Volunteers and LBT Community Persons
a) ‘Chorki’, the In-House Study Circle
Members of Sappho for Equality (SFE) come from different walks of life. They come from different backgrounds and experiences, have different stories of struggle to tell. Not all of them are familiar with LGBT issues, and /or gender-sexuality discourses or feminist view points. Sappho for Equality’s experience in the field of LBT activism shows that empowering community people by sharing knowledge and space for expression is the root of growth. ‘Chorki’ or The Fire Wheel was introduced to facilitate these, where SFE members, volunteers and community persons formed journal club, book club and film club. Gender-sexuality related current issues, political discourses, films, books, journals are discussed in ‘Chorki’ usually in day-long seminar format where internal and external resource persons are involved. ‘Chorki’ encourages people to think, question and debate and thus generates a healthy space where static knowledge becomes dynamic. The following three events fall under ‘Chorki’ in the last year.
i) In-house Study Circle of Chorki organised a session on Trans-Feminism
Dr. Ranjita Biswas from the Department of Wome’s Studies, Jadavpur University, took a session on Trans-feminism on 14th July, 2013 in Chetana Resource Centre of Sappho for Equality. Trans-feminism is a discourse that is taking up in recent times and SFE members felt the need to upgrade themselves on this new discourse.
ii) In-house study circle of Chorki organised a Lecture on Homonationalism
Chorki, the in-house workshop/seminar space organised a discussion on Homonationalism on 8th August, t2013. It was facilitated by Debanuj Dasgupta, research scholar at Ohio State University, USA. The objective was to have a clear understanding of the origin of homonationalism as a concept and as it is operating in the larger international politico-economic context. The discussion started on state and its governance, relation between individuals and the state, rights discourse and then went into how terrorism in America and its aftermath processes has actually given birth to a process and concept called homonationalism.
iii) Film screenings throughout the year
As a part of Chorki, the in-house study circle, we screen films on LGBTQ and gender-sexuality related themes. The motive behind film screenings are to familiarise the members with fictional or real life struggles of queer identities in different socio-cultural and political backgrounds, where we are able to identify and also understand the politics of struggle in such varied socio-cultural contexts. Films screened through the year 2013-2014 are:
‘Ma vie en rose’ (French/France)
‘Ghetuputra Kamala’ (Bangla/Bangladesh)
‘Proteus’ (English/South Africa-USA)
b) Annual Residential Workshop
The Annual Residential Workshop of Sappho for Equality took place from 25th to 29th December, 2013 at Sundarban. This workshop is a space to exercise and employ our individual capacities to its fullest. It is a space where we can express freely and can celebrate our identities.
This year the workshop was designed keeping in mind the immediate context of Supreme Court’s Verdict on Sec. 377 of IPC on 11th December, 2013. The theme topic of the workshop was on Invisibility, Visibility & Vulnerability.
The objective was to explore what is meant by ‘invisibility’, ‘visibility’ and ‘vulnerability’, to see how it operates in our daily lives, personal and political experiences. Generation of meanings, criterias, definition of Invisibility, Visibility and Vulnerability actually helped us understand our own relations in respect to the verdict given by Supreme Court on IPC 377.
c) Sappho’s 14th Birthday celebration
Each year Sappho’s birthday is celebrated on 20th June, 2013, to commemorate the solidarity among the group of members that keeps the embers of comradeship and activism burning. This celebration is a process through which one celebrates belonging to this particular group/organisation, which is an act of self-recognition and empowerment.
The 20th issue of Swakanthey (In Our Own Voice), our bi-annual newsletter was released and was immediately taken in by its eagerly waiting readers. The publication completed its 10th year on this birthday.
2. Chetana, the Sexuality Resource cum Drop-in Centre
Chetana (meaning conscience/consciouness) is the resource cum drop-in centre of Sappho for Equality that provides the space for multifarious activities. Sappho’s activism and advocacy work stems out from this space. It is the space for meetings, debates and discussions. It is a space where community members can drop in any time to meet friends, acquaintances. It acts as a space of refuge for any community member who wants a shoulder to share experiences, problems.
Chetana also maintains a library that contains books, publications, DVDs, CDs and an archive that stores valuable kits that have been used for Sappho’s activism. Researchers, interested people, students often visit the resource centre to access the library of the organisation. College and school students with their teacher visits Chetana as a part of their academic activities or extracurricular work.
Chetana functions as a nucleus of the widespread activities of Sappho for Equality. Any big program, event of Sappho finds its germination in Chetana’s space. Small workshops, sessions of ‘Chorki’, interactive meetings with visitors from outside are held in Chetana. This is the first in-house space that the organisation has created for all kinds of meetings, activities, celebrations and small workshops. Weekly meetings of SFE, counselling sessions are regular activities that happen in Chetana’s space. Chetana thus functions both as an official unit and personal space of Sappho.
3. Counselling Services for Larger LGBT Community
Sappho for Equality provides counselling services to anyone within or outside the organisation. Counselling sessions are held in Chetana Resouce Centre. People from outside also avail the counselling services and may continue it for long time. The Counselling centre is a support base for sexually marginalised women and people related to them (parents, friends, siblings).
4. Helpline Services
Sappho for Equality runs a helpline service for LGBT people, their family and the general mass providing information and need based tele-counselling. This helpline was started even before the organisation was registered in 2003. We attend calls from different parts of the country, even from abroad sometimes. It is one of the very popular sexuality help-line in India. It has become a well-accepted reach-out methodology which is non-threatening and easy to access by community persons.
5. Networking with National & Local Community Groups
a) SFE attends the 5th Transgender Day celebrated by Association of Transgender Hijra in Bengal (ATHB)
On 30th April, 2013, ATHB celebrated 5th Transgender Day, at Hazra Crossing, Kolkata, where Sappho joined in solidarity and support. Members from Swikriti, SAATHI, Kolkata Rishta, Bandhan, groups from Orissa and Jharkhand and Sampoorna, all transgender and Hijra groups were present in the event. BNP+ and KNP+, HIV positive groups were also present to highlight and emphasise on HIV and AIDS and the present situation regarding these.
b) Seminar organised by Sappho for Equality and LABIA, Mumbai
On 1st May, 2013, LABIA, a queer feminist LBT collective from Mumbai and Sappho for Equality collaboratively organised a seminar at WBVH Towers, Kolkata, on ‘Breaking the Binary: Understanding Concerns and Realities of Queer Persons Assigned Gender Female at Birth across a Spectrum of Lived Gender Identities’, a research done by LABIA. The purpose was to find how PAGFB persons (anyone who was assigned gender female at birth, which is socially assigned, according to the baby’s sex) negotiated and understood their gender, how they posited themselves in society, their expectations, adjustments, communication with society, family, friends and LBT groups.
c) SFE participates in Art and Crafts Workshop at American Centre
American centre in Kolkata and Kolkata Rainbow Pride Festival jointly organised for arts and craft workshop held at the American Centre for Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk on 28th June, 2013. The objective was to create a feeling of bonding and solidarity among diverse members from colleges/universities, LGBT support groups/orgs through a fun-filled art and crafts workshop and film screening. SFE members participated in this pre-pride workshop to show solidarity and get introduced to various people who supported the political cause of the movement.
d) Sappho for Equality’s walks the in Rainbow Pride Walk in Kolkata
For the first time Sappho for Equality in 2013 participated in the Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk on 7th July, 2013. Primarily as an organisation working for the rights of Lesbian, Bisexual women and Transgender (F to M) SFE felt that LBT people who otherwise remain under-represented, should participate in Pride Walk to claim recognition, rights and become visible.
The theme of this year’s Pride Walk in Kolkata was Raising Voice against all sorts of Violence and Discrimination faced by Women and LGBTQ people, it was an advantageous opportunity for queer women to intervene and create our own space in the Pride Walk. The participation of SFE in Pride Walk was actually an opportunity that was exercised and foresaw some stronger political statements through Pride Walk in future.
6. International Networking
a) Workshop at Dhaka, Bangladesh
A senior member of Sappho for Equality travelled to Dhaka, Bangladesh, between 14th and 16th December, 2013 to conduct a two-day workshop with Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (F to M) persons. The Workshop was organized by Bandhu Social Welfare Society, an organization working on rights to health and social services for MSM population for many years. There were 18 LBT persons who came from different districts of Bangladesh.
The objective of the workshop was a) to discuss on issues related to genders and sexualities of LBT persons b) to discuss on the basic human rights LBT population, c) to formulate a strategy and action plan appropriate for the LBT persons in Bangladesh. The workshop was successful in giving a basic orientation to the participants and to draw a roadmap for their next course of action.
b) Follow up programme with LBT persons from Dhaka
Sappho for Equality organised a three-day workshop, 27th to 29th March, 2014 in collaboration with Bandhu Social Welfare Organisation, Bangladesh, to discuss gender-sexuality with LBT participants from Dhaka, Bangladesh. The workshop was organised at Chetana Resource Centre.
The workshop was aimed at creating awareness among the participants about issues that affect them as LBT persons living in a hetero-normative society as well as to understand their own biases and internalisations of normativity including internalised homophobia. It was an exercise to understand the society and its norms and then introspecting to know how much of it is actually living within the so-called non-normative self. Way forward came as a direct result of this introspective process. Resource persons were all from Sappho for Equality’s core group who as community peers and seniors created an open, non-judgemental and non-threatening space much needed for this form of self reflective process.
The immediate achievement of this workshop became clear as the participants from Bangladesh wanted a second phase of training/interaction with Sappho for Equality, as they felt they would want to know more about the notions discussed, at the same time about other important and pertinent things that would finally enable them to form an LBT collective in Bangladesh. It was a historical moment for all of us at Sappho for Equality as well as our friends and comrades from Bangladesh. Sappho for Equality has travelled along this path of walking, stumbling, learning, un-learning, questioning and challenging to reach a point where it is now holding out its hands for people facing similar marginalisation and violence, coming from similar socio-cultural background, in a different country. By sharing our road map with them we are encouraging them to find their own path, forging their own bonds and curving their own future, while we will be standing with them in thick and thin. This is truly the moment that an organisation strives for, to be a kindle to light another flame to continue a movement towards rights and justice.
B. ACTIVITIES TO FORM DIALOGUES, NEGOTIATE, INTERACT TOWARDS BUILDING POSITIVE BRIDGES WITH THE CIVIL SOCIETY THROUGH ADVOCACY & MASS AWARENESS CAMPAIGN TO LESSEN HOMOPHOBIA & HATE CRIMES AGAINST LBT PERSONS
1. Coalition with Women’s Rights Groups, Networks, Women’s Movement
a) SFE joins Maitree (the network of women’s rights groups and individuals in West Bengal) in a Street Corner Meeting against sexual violence
On 10th May, 2013, as a part of the monthly meeting, Maitree organised a street meeting at Bowbazar, Kolkata. The agenda of the meeting was to spread awareness on cases of sexual violence, quite frequently happening in West Bengal as in other parts of India and question the State’s responsibility on women’s freedom of movement, speech, right to dress, loiter as she likes. The Criminal Law Amendment Bill passed by the Central Government recently was a reference drawn in speeches, in the songs, street play and general conversation with the public. Sappho for Equality as a part of Maitree took part in this street meeting.
b) SFE participates in a Peaceful Demonstration against inaction/ wrong action of City Police and Administration in rape and sexual assault cases
SFE participated in the protest demonstration on 13th June, 2013, in front of the Chief Minister’s house in Kolkata, demanding immediate steps to be taken by the state in the numerous cases of sexual assaults in the city and villages. The very recent incidents of two college girls being raped and murdered in Barasat, North 24 Parganas and Nadia districts, where the perpetrators were not punished and no judicial steps taken, aggravated everyone. The inaction of the State and careless handling of the cases led to concern and rage over how secure we are as citizens of the country.
This peaceful demonstration was plundered by city police administration. Police imprisoned many of the women’s rights activists that unleashed terror among protestors. This protest event once again reminded that moving against state rule was not easy and demands much more strategising.
c) Protest Meeting against Sexual Violence by Maitree on 18th June, 2013
Maitree organised a protest rally on 18th June in the crowded thoroughfares of Kolkata on the issue of increasing sexual violence in the state of West Bengal and the static indifference and denial of the State against these incidents.
d) SFE joins in Erwadi Day was commemoration
Sappho for Equality attended an event organised by Anjali (a mental health rights organisation in Kolkata) to support the cause of mental health rights on 6th August, 2013. The event was to spread more awareness and sensitivity towards mentally unwell people, who in many situations till today remain unattended, uncared at hospitals, clinics and other places.
e) SFE participated in the Workshop “ANONDE KONYAKAAL”
This program, organized by Jeevika Development Society, an NGO that works on women empowerment and right to livelihood, on 24th January, 2014, was to celebrate the National Girl Child Day, towards violence free childhood and girlhood for the girl children, discuss women empowerment and rights to education, health and development. It was an opportunity for SFE to learn and voice out on the issues of discrimination and violence faced by LBT individuals while growing up, and thus connect sexuality to the broader women’s rights cause.
f) SFE participated in workshop on the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace
On 14th February, 2014, SFE participated in a day-long workshop on Sexual Harassment of Woman at Workplace Act, 2013 and its implications in higher education institutes as well as other workplaces, arranged at Vivekananda Hall, Jadavpur University by School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University & Swayam, an NGO working to end violence against women. This workshop was beneficial, since by being informed we can strategise on how to combat sexual and verbal harassment at workplace because of non-normative gender-sexual orientation.
g) SFE joins in One Billion Rising Celebration
The school of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University, in collaboration with Swayam (a Kolkata based women’s rights organization), organised the One Billion Rising Campaign on 6th March, 2014, on account of the International Women’s Day on 8th March. Students of different departments and members of women’s rights NGOs were participants in a women’s rights fair. Sappho for Equality was present with its recent publications like Swakanthey Book fair 2014, FAQ Book and old publications. It was an opportunity to reach out to the students in the university campus. The daylong program just two days ahead the International Women’s Day, was to celebrate and evoke sense of rights, autonomy and agency of women.
2. Public Sensitisation Programs
a) Mass Awareness Campaigns in Suburban Railway Route
Sappho for Equality engaged in an expedition of mass awareness campaign on 16th June, 2013. A team consisting of eight volunteer had the experience of leafleting in suburban trains of West Bengal. The agenda was to form a face to face dialogue with people in the outskirts of the city and thus we chose a belt that runs from Kolkata to the north-western side, in the Sealdah-Barasat frontier. From our previous experiences we knew that since people take temporary refuge in trains and in suburban platforms, it is an ideal place for leafleting. These are not crowded zones, where everyone is running for their daily work. The journey on a train or waiting on the platform gives people time to read short notes and reflect on the matter.
3. Sensitising Non-Community Groups, Organisations through Workshops
a) Workshop on Sex, Gender and Sexuality
On 13th February, 2014, resource team from Sappho for Equality was invited to conduct a workshop on ‘Sex Gender Sexuality’ held at Dhyanasram, Kolkata, organised by an independent consultant and Maitree member. The attendees of the workshop were researchers, project workers working in the fields of gender, environment, development issues, in BRAAC University, Bangladesh.
b) Study Circle at Swayam, Kolkata
Sappho for Equality was invited by Swayam (an NGO working on violence against women) to hold a workshop on sexuality rights and IPC 377. The objective was to raise awareness on the issues of gender-sexuality, violence and orient the participants to IPC 377 and its connection to human rights.
4. Youth Mobilisation
a) Spreading awareness on Gender and Sexuality at Presidency University
‘Gender Awareness Month’ in Presidency University, was an event to sensitise students, staff and faculty on gender and sexuality issues on the campus. The aim was to generate more awareness on gender and sexuality issues, so that closeted people may feel safe, confident, non-normative gender-sexual identities do not frequently face harassment and discrimination.
Sappho for Equality participated in the 3 day event, between 4th and 6th September, 2013, by arranging an information desk, interacting with students and screening, discussing a documentary film, made by SFE. The objective was to support the initiative taken by students and to strengthen their cause by working with them. Also, it was through this togetherness that the organisation thinks of building coalition with youths and students of the city. The response from the screening of the film and three day of continuous interaction suggested that young minds felt motivated and were dreaming of taking more initiatives and perhaps work on these issues.
b) Participating in the Seminar organised by Calcutta University
Sappho for Equality members were invited to a national level seminar on ‘Cinema, Psyche and Society: Dialogues and Engagements’, organised by Department of Psychology, University of Calcutta, on 7th October, 2013, for the film screening of ‘…and the Unclaimed’ (a Sappho for Equality production) and a panel discussion on it. It was a scope to interact with students and teachers, create awareness on the violence and discrimination faced by LGBTIQ, particularly LBT community. The floor opened up many questions and queries from the students, whose participation made the panel discussion more enriching.
c) ‘Vashar Preme: Premer Vashay’ ‘Loving Language: In the Language of Love’
On account of ‘Vasha Dibash’ (Mother Language Day) student bodies of Engineering Departments of Jadavpur University organized a student’s fair on the campus premises from 19th to 21st March, 2014. They invited Sappho for Equality for displaying our publications among many other information stalls. This was an opportunity of reaching out to students and faculty of engineering departments with whom we do not have any direct way of communication.
5. National Queer Conference
Sappho for Equality held its third National Queer Conference, Gender Sexuality: Exploring the Conjoined Possibilities, at Jadavpur University, Kolkata between 13th and 15th September, 2013. The objectives of the conference was, a) to bridge the gap between academics and activists, so that theory and practice can act in complementarity to one another in the long run, b) to bring together queer and non-queer part of the society in one platform, c) to create a meeting ground for activists from diverse fields, academicians, performers, artists, researchers, students and professionals from various fields who are interested in queer research and activism, d) to empower individuals, organisations through sharing of information, experience, e) to emphasise the need of academically informed activism, f) to generate new knowledge about issues of non-normative gender-sexualities
Our much awaited FAQ Book, which we have named Prosnottore Jounata: Katha, Tathya, Aalochona, (Sexuality through Question answers: Words, Information, Discussion), was released in the Queer Conference in the inauguration Ceremony. Award winning poet, novelist and academic Prof. Nabaneeta Dev Sen was invited to release the book. In her speech, she stressed on the importance of such a book in simple vernacular language that can explain why ‘queer’ness is not that ‘queer’ but something ordinary that exists everywhere.
6. DIALOGUES: The 7th Calcutta LGBT Film and Video Festival
The long awaited LGBT film festival of Kolkata, Dialogues was organized at Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, from 21st to 24th November, 2013. This year we had forty eight films, feature films, shorts and documentaries which had to be screened through four days, evenings of two week days and throughout two full days. The festival is growing larger and larger each year. This was the first time that Sappho for Equality and Pratyay Gender Trust, a sexuality and human rights initiative was jointly collaborating with Goethe-Institute/Max Mueller Bhavan, the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany for this film festival.
The partners for this year’s festival were Sappho for Equality, Pratyay Gender Trust, Max Mueller Bhavan, Queer Nazaria, International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), Dresden Filmfest, Berlinale and Maliuki Films.
7. The Rainbow Carnival
Rainbow Carnival is a public event that was started off by Sappho for Equality in 2012 for the first time. 8th December, 2013 saw the second Rainbow Carnival in the city of Kolkata, at Rabindra Sadan grounds, a well known cultural spot in Kolkata. The objectives of the Carnival are to celebrate diverse gender and sexuality expressions through sports and cultural events and to form an informal dialogue with the common people through such celebration. The Carnival on 8th December, just two days ahead the International Human Rights Day, had this allied significance of celebrating rights of people with non-normative gender-sexual orientations in the larger context of Human Rights Movement.
8. Participating in the 38th Kolkata International Book Fair
It was the 10th year of Sappho for Equality at the 38th Kolkata International Bookfair at Milan Mela grounds, Kolkata from 29th January to 9th February, 2014. Sappho for Equality is participating at the Bookfair since 2004 with its publications. Sappho’s bi-annual, bilingual newsletter Swakanthey is disseminated in Kolkata Bookfair since 2004. In 2004 we started by selling only 500 copies which have increased to two to five thousand copies each year according to the volunteer strength. This year we sold 2300 copies. Apart from Swakanthey there were two new publications at our table at Little Magazine Pavillion (a space for small organizers and publishers and a prized space for bookworms, creative people). One is ‘Prasnattare Jounata’, the FAQ book that to answer common questions on gender and sexuality and another is ‘Kurupkathaguli’ a collection of short stories that gives queer perspectives to fairy tales.
9. Sexuality Academy
Sappho for Equality’s ‘Sexuality Academy’ (Jaunatar Pathshala) from 19th to 23rd March, 2014 was an initiative to create a learning and networking space where we can openly share our knowledge, information, experiences and thus ideate more on the subjects of gender-sexuality. This year we located our prime target group as the young people, who are still in their academic lives or are passionate and are in some way working in the field of gender and sexuality. There were students and researchers from various academic backgrounds such as psychology, literature, Women’s studies, mass com and journalism, social work and engineering. Through this we envisioned of our future alliance building with student bodies, youth groups and youth population in general, who are showing earnest interest in the LGBTI movement of India, especially after the verdict of Supreme Court regarding IPC 377.
This year the subject of the Academy was ‘Sexualities’. Through the eleven sessions in three working days, we brought in the different areas through which we can understand and discuss ‘sexualities’. These sessions were facilitated by academicians and activists working in the fields of gender, sexuality, disability, women’s rights, literature, psychiatry and social sciences.
C. BUILDING ALLIANCES WITH STATE BODIES, LAW ENFORCEMNT AGENCY, MEDICAL FRATERNITY, EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS/STUDENT AND TEACHING POPULATION – ‘TOGETHER WE ARE’
1. ‘Together We Are’ – Advocacy programmes with Police and Medical Fraternity
In 2011 and 2012, SFE conducted sensitisation programs with police officials at Lalbazar, the Police Headquater in Kolkata. The programs aimed at generating awareness and sensitizing the police on gender and sexuality, so that they are better equipped to deal with the violence faced by people of marginalized gender-sexual identities. In 2013, SFE aimed at reaching out to the police officials of Divisions since they are the ones at ground level, who physically encounter and deal with cases of violence. Dialoguing with police officials directly opens up avenues of interaction and exchange which helps in sensitising, orienting the law enforcement agencies and also forming networks with them, through which we can together combat violence and discrimination.
Hand in hand we started creating channels of interaction in the Medical health system through our doctor friends, for conducting more programs and workshops.
a) ‘Together We Are’ with Kolkata Police
Sappho for Equality organised three day-long seminars of ‘Together We Are’ with police officials in three divisions of Kolkata police, Port Division at Khidirpur, Kolkata on 13th July, 2013, South Division, Park Street, Kolkata on 21st September, 2013 and Central Division, 26th March, 2014. The purpose of these programmes were to orient the police officials to the discourses of sex, gender, sexuality and make them question the established norms that society has created for perpetuating hetero-normative gender roles.
This programme with Kolkata police has become successful because it could facilitate new thoughts and make the police personnel think, question, and reason. After the events get officially over many of the police personnel usually come to talk about their feelings, questions and apprehensions. It was quite interesting for the resource team to see that police as a whole were raising questions on the validity of criminalizing sexual acts that are consensual and they agreed that the law enforcement force had no understanding of the LGBTQ community and violence against such people. The film screenings also help them understand the role/s police can play either positively or negatively to counter violence inflicted upon LBT identifying persons.
b) ‘Together We Are’ with Medical Professionals
SFE has conducted two events with medical professionals, one on 1st September, 2013, with The Psychiatry Club of Kolkata and the other on 11th December, 2013 with West Chapter of Indian Psychiatrist society. Though both the events were designed with focus upon mental health professionals, medical practitioners from other streams also attended these programmes.
The first programme aimed at health needs of LGBTQ identifying persons, especially lack of mental health support from psychologists, counsellors and psychiatrists. It was an open interactive event to discuss the issues of non-normative gender-sexual expressions, and how someone identifying as non-normative is marginalised even by the medical fraternity in general and mental health professionals in particular. The doctors also brought out their perceptions regarding gender-sexualit and talked about their limitations and expressed willingness to bridge the gap.
The second programme was organised to garner support from the medical fraternity after the Supreme Court verdict on IPC 377 on 11th December 2013. In this event lawyers, human rights activists and queer activists shared stage to build a positive alliance for persons with non-normative gender-sexual orientation.
2. ‘Together We Are’ – Advocacy Programmes with college students and teaching fraternity in suburban colleges and Universities
The college program at Suburban colleges in West Bengal is a new project undertaken by Sappho for Equality in 2014. The objective of this project is to intervene into the educational system with the subject of gender-sexuality, interact with the students directly and form a basic understanding and sensitization towards discrimination and violence existing in society in relation to gender and sexuality. The long-run objective is to form a partnership with these colleges for further programs and maintain a relation with the students and teaching circle, so that they can become agents of change for resisting against violence in the college campuses and beyond. We aim at suburban colleges, as they have no or very little exposure to the subject of gender and sexuality.
Till March 2014 we have conducted programmes in Barasat Government College, Barasat, Rastraguru Surendranath College, Barrackpore and West Bengal State University, Barasat.
This is a pilot programme, which shows signs of great potential not just with students, but with teachers as well. All three institutions have requested SFE for repeat programme and many of these young persons have joined the Sexuality Academy run by SFE to delve deeper in to gender-sexuality.
D. PARTICIPATION IN RELEVANT INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS & MEETINGS
a) SFE participated in Rainbow Leaders
A Global Program for Sustainable LGBTI leadership 2013-2015 was organised by RFSL whose first part held at Stockholm, Sweden from 13th October to 2nd November and second part in Cape Town, 31st March – 6th April, 2014.
The program officer of SFE participated in this leadership training program. The course content of this program comprising theoretical tool called Appreciative Leadership, Logical Framework Approach, introduction to Information and Communication Technology, Resource Mobilisation, Monitoring and Evaluation, component on wellness, safety measures and some others tried to inspire and appreciate the participants in their separate leadership contexts. Through the training program, the participants, who were representatives of individual organisations, situated at different countries got exposure to the LGBTIQ activism in different nooks and corners of the world and formed partnerships spanning across countries that may prove beneficial in future.
b) SFE participated in the second meeting of SALGBT network on 15th – 16th November, 2013
A member of SFE attended the second meeting of SALGBT network. The countries that are part of this network are India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka. The main objective of this meeting was to structure and fine tune the future proposals of work including the budget. The network would further approach funding agencies with this project proposal. They also finalized the Network policies and protocols. An external consultant, who was hired to facilitate this process, gathered various opinions from all participating organizations and contextual variations of different countries were charted out. Adhikaar, New Delhi was unanimously voted as the programme co-coordinating unit for the present project. Sappho for Equality as one of the members of the executive committee and representing India holds responsibility in the project of SALGBT.