Meet the BJP leader who released a book on LGBT rights
news Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute| July 14, 2014| 12:05 pm IST Madurai: It was a book launch like any other in Madurai, a book on LGBT rights- Maraikappata Pakkangal. But what made the event special was the person who released. The book, authored by Gopi Shankar from Srishti, a literary circle for the LGBT community was released by Vanathi Srinivasan, the BJP Tamil Nadu General Secretary. Srinivasan’s decision to release the book marks her acceptance of the issues that the LGBT community faces, especially after the predominant stand that her party has held on the matter. Srinivasan told The News Minute that she attended the event to understand the problems faced by the community. "I have heard about the opposition to LGBT communities and the myths surrounding them. But I wanted to hear their side and so decided to go for the book release." Vanathi Srinivasan, also a lawyer, said that she understood that the LGBT community went through a lot of suffering and ostracism and that the phenomena of homosexuality and intersexuality were only natural. She says that we now need to move beyond discussing their existence to solving their problems, one needs to move beyond a closed mindset and realize that they are also human-beings. When asked about how the BJP’s stand on Section 377 is different from hers, Vanathi Srinivasan says that nobody from the party stopped her from going. "I don't believe my party functions with a closed mindset," says Vanathi Srinivasan. Many leaders in the BJP have been known to support Section 377 that criminalizes “sex against the order of nature”. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the BJP President, was quoted as having said in December 2013, “We will state (at an all-party meeting if it is called) that we support Section 377 because we believe that homosexuality is an unnatural act and cannot be supported.” He said that his party unambiguously supported the re-criminalization of gay sex. Spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had equated homosexuality with Western society and culture. Vanathi Srinivasan is a BJP leader who believes in inclusion, there are other leaders in the party with the same mindset. But they mostly remain an exception in a party that has either opposed homosexuality or chosen to remain ambiguous.