Is your LS candidate LGBTQ-friendly? This list helps you find out

A trio of young people have built a list of Lok Sabha candidates who have supported queer and trans causes

In less than a year since the Supreme Court read down Section 377 of the IPC, decriminalising homosexuality, a group of three friends decided to band together to build a list of Lok Sabha candidates across party lines who have publicly supported LGBTQ+ rights. It’s called The Pink List, and will launch formally on April 17.

Anish Gawande, graduate of Columbia University and a Dara Shikoh Fellowship director, Devina Buckshee, a journalist with Quint, and Smriti Deora, a freelance designer, scoured news archives and Lok Sabha debates to build the list.

“We’ve heard countless insensitive and frankly damaging comments on LGBTQ+ issues from our politicians,” Ms. Buckshee says. “We talk about and bemoan their regressive, narrow-minded thinking, but what about the good guys?”

Their goal, Mr. Gawande said, is to go beyond the popular mainstream voices like Shashi Tharoor, and find people like, say, Jagadambika Pal, BJP candidate for Domariyaganj in Uttar Pradesh, who he describes as “pro-LGBTQ+ and pro-armed forces, a fascinating intersection”.

There are 49 names on the preview list the team shared with The Hindu, including Aswathi Rajappan (Ernakulam, Independent), a Dalit activist in Kerala, who is the first openly intersex candidate to contest the Lok Sabha elections, Radha (Chennai South, Independent), Tamil Nadu’s only transgender candidate, Sneha Kale (Mumbai North Central, Durbal Ghatak Aghadi) and Jatin Mummy (Mumbai North East, Durbal Ghatak Aghadi). They also include outspoken supporters aside from Mr. Tharoor, including Sonia Gandhi, former PM H.D. Deve Gowda, Jay Panda, Ambumani Ramadoss and Milind Deora.

The copy on warns that candidates supporting LGBTQ+ rights do not mean that their parties are inclusive or support queer and trans identities (a future area of work for the team), and that such candidates need not be inclusive in other spheres either.

The list, its creators say, will help people from sexual and gender minorities mobilise around these 49 as a show of strength and solidarity. Beyond the elections, the group hopes to get the people on the list to meet each other, to build a network of politicians to make LGBTQ+ issues a political imperative.

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