The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra is probably the first in the country to have a separate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) cell to advocate for the community’s rights.
State NCP president and water resources minister Jayant Patil and party MP Supriya Sule launched the LGBT cell at the party headquarters on Monday. The party has also declared a 15-member body headed by Priya Patil, an LGBT activist.
NCP becomes 1st political party in India to have a LGBT cell. NCP Maharashtra President Jayant Patil & MP Supriya Sule formally launch the functioning of the LGBT cell in Mumbai.
"We felt LGBT community needs equal rights, so we made a separate cell for them.", said Supriya Sule pic.twitter.com/pL8a5YMmQL
— ANI (@ANI) October 5, 2020
“NCP was the first party to experiment by setting up Yuvati Congress (young women) cell and now it has established an LGBT cell in an attempt to bring justice to the deprived section,” Patil said at the event, adding that formation of a separate cell was a commitment the party had made in its election manifesto.
“Glad to announce that NCP has launched an LGBTQIA+ cell in order to voice the issues of the queer and bring them to the mainstream. Unfortunately, the LGBTQIA community is subjected to bullying and violence due to prejudice,” said Sule in a series of tweets.
“We must eliminate the prejudice that we have towards the queer community and be more inclusive towards alternative gender identities and gender expression. Work needs to be done to make a more inclusive society free of prejudice, homophobia and transphobia,” she said.
LGBT activist Harish Iyer gave a thumbs up to NCP for its initiative. “Every party should have a cell for queer people, and even within the queer people there needs to be adequate representation of all the LGBT communities that come from different caste and communities. We need such cells to include diversity within the LGBT community with a focus on not just working on issues but also the intersections of the issues,” Iyer said told Hindustan Times.
LGBT activist Ashok Row Kavi welcomed the step, but said he will be happy to see a system to map progress of the community in the coming future. Kavi cited the example of Maharashtra government’s Transgender Welfare Board, which, he said, has failed to achieve its objective.