Sep. 6th, 2011

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INDIA Campuses Lead Gay Rights Struggle


KOLKATA, India, Sep 5, 2011 (IPS) - It was with some trepidation that Nivvedan, a student at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) - Bombay, helped launch ‘Saathi’ (Companion), catering to the needs of people with different sexual orientations on campus.

Yet, when Saathi held its first meeting in July it attracted not only students but also alumni and even some members of the faculty. "There’s a lot of confusion around sexuality in our society. We have encountered it in our campus too," Nivvedan told IPS.

Nivvedan expects Saathi to grow as "students who need support gain better confidence in the sessions. Right now most of them would rather discuss things in an informal way with other fellow students."

"I believe the issue of sexual orientation, homosexuality etc. should be discussed and awareness created right from student life," said Nivvedan, acutely conscious of the fact that the initiative is the first one of its kind on an Indian campus.

Ketan Tanna, activist with ‘Gay-Bombay’, an informal group of "like-minded gay people," says: "None of the colleges in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) has active lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activism or any guidance cell, so this is a first."

The initiative by IIT-Bombay suggests that gay rights are slowly gaining acceptance into India’s conservative society and that its decriminalisation by an order of the Delhi High Court order in 2009 is beginning to have an effect. MORE
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2008 Part 7: Women in India Form Their Own Political Party

DELHI, India (WOMENSENEWS)--It is a mellow December morning in Delhi. Soft sunlight filters through the trees that line the boulevards of the city's stately Krishna Menon Marg neighborhood.

Suman Krishan Kant, however, is oblivious to the tranquillity outside the windows of her well-appointed bungalow.

The prominent social activist is reviewing and paying bills while files wait on the table for her attention. The elegant waiting room outside is beginning to fill in with men and women hoping to meet with her and enlist her advocacy with government agencies on their behalf. One of them, for instance, is a widow who hopes Kant will help her application for an increase in her pension.

It is the beginning of another working day for the president of the country's all-women's political party.

In October, Kant, the widow of former vice president Krishan Kumar Kant, joined with other influential women to launch the United Women's Front to address issues such as women's illiteracy, early marriage and tokenism in parliament, where women hold just 8 percent of seats. To qualify for official party status, the group had to muster at least 100 members and pay about $300 in registration fees.

Read more... )
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'Ditch the witch': How the Murdoch press is using misogyny to wage war on Australian PM Julia Gillard

A year ago, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard had won her first election, silencing grumbles from some corners that she hadn’t properly won the leadership of the Australian Labor Party from previous leader Kevin Rudd. The ALP win was a close thing. Gillard had to scramble to negotiate with three independents and the Australian Greens in order to form a coalition – in part because her party lost a lot of votes on its left flank to the increasingly popular Greens. Not only was Gillard remarkable for the close shave, or for being Australia’s first female Prime Minister, but she was also an unmarried atheist without children and with a reputation for progressive thinking. In Australia’s fairly conservative political landscape, in which it seemed unlikely that we’d have a Prime Minister who wasn’t a very wealthy married Christian father any time soon, this was unbelievable.

A year on, the left is just slightly confused about Gillard’s swing to the right – see for instance, our esteemed editor on the “Malaysian solution.” One might then wonder why, just a year out from the election in which they backed Gillard, Rupert Murdoch’s conservative media is baying for her blood.

What’s going on exactly? The big news story in Australia over the last few months has been a proposed carbon tax. Should it go ahead, only 0.02 per cent of Australian businesses will be taxed under this scheme, and 90 per cent of households will receive compensation for the increase in expenses they will undergo as we change over to clean energy. So far, so good – except barely anyone in the country knows those facts. Whoever is running the media show over at the ALP is floundering. Pushed hard by opposition leader Tony Abbott and Murdoch’s News Limited, the only message that is getting through is that the carbon tax is outrageous. Given that News Limited has control of about three quarters of metropolitan daily newspaper circulation in Australia, that’s quite a push. Read more... )

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