Happy Pride Month: India's LGBTQ+ politicians
India has a long way to go in terms of LGBTQ+ representation in politics but today, let's celebrate the few politicians we have from the LGBTQ+ community:
Shabnam "Mausi" Bano
Shabnam Mausi was the first transgender Indian to be elected to public office (MLA) in 1998. She was elected as a member of the Madhya Pradesh State Legislative Assembly from 1998 to 2003.
Shabnam Bano won her seat from Madhya Pradesh’s Sohagpur constituency. As an MLA, she aimed to fight corruption, unemployment, poverty, hunger and most importantly, advocated for the rights of transgender persons.
Kamla Jaan, ran for office of Mayor in 1999, a year after Shabnam Bano had been elected as MLA. Kamla Jaan became India's first out queer mayor from Madhya Pradesh's Katni in 2000. When in office, her focus was on development issues such as fixing tube wells, renovating bus stops and fixing the drainage system.
Kamla Jaan had been elected as the mayor in January 2000 but in 2003, the Madhya Pradesh High Court in a ruling stated that Kamla Jaan was not eligible to be the mayor as the seat was reserved for women and on the electoral rolls, Kamla Jaan was then registered as male.
Anjali Guru Sanjana Jaan Patil
Anjali, a 42 year old transgender won the gram panchayat elections in Bhadli Budruk in Jan 2021 by 174 votes after she had to move the Bombay High Court to be allowed to contest by the gender of her choosing. She contested with the support of the Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi (VBA), a Maharashtra based political party founded by Prakash Ambedkar in 2018.
In 2016, Anjali contested in the gram panchayat election as an independent contestant and lost by 11 votes. She hopes to build good quality roads, provide clean drinking water in her village and make it open defecation free as a member of the gram panchayat.
Gopi Shankar Madurai
Gopi Shankar was one of the youngest, and the first openly intersex & gender queer statutory authority and one of the candidates to contest in 2016 Tamil Nadu
Legislative Assembly election.
In August 2020 the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment appointed Gopi Shankar as the South Regional representative in the National Council for Transgender Persons (NCTP). In March 2022, they resigned from this position and called it a ceremonial position which was not serving the needs of the transgender community.
In 2016, Apsara Reddy a journalist and a transgender activist, was inducted as the National Spokesperson for the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) by the Former Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa. After a short period as the National General Secretary of the Indian National Congress (INC), she returned to the AIADMK to campaign for the 2021 state elections.
As an activist and a politician, she has been working in the field of child protection and has been fighting against discrimination of the transgender community.
Sneha Kale, a 26 year old from Ghatkopar, Mumbai, was the first transgender woman to contest for Lok Sabha elections in Mumbai in 2019. Although Sneha is a graduate, she was unsuccessful in finding employment and had to turn towards begging. She works as a social worker to improve the conditions of neglected people in society.
Her campaign in the 2019 elections focused on equality for the LGBTQ community, support for widows, farmers and other backward classes. As Sneha does not come from wealth or a rich political party, the transgender community supported her to contest the 2019 elections.
In 2014, Kamla Kinnar contested as an independent candidate from the holy city of Varanasi against Narendra Modi. This was soon after the supreme court recognised the right for people to choose their gender and trans-persons as a third gender. This enabled her to run for office. Kamla Kinnar (also known as Basheer Kinnar) wanted to work towards the upliftment of her community as she thought that most politicians did not pay much attention to this cause.
At 25 years of age, Ashwathi was the first openly intersex, transgender and dalit candidate to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from the Ernakulam constituency. They said that if they had got elected to power, they would ensure housing for all, especialy for migrant labourers and trans people.
They define their politics as "Queer-Ambedkarite" with a focus on social & economic issues. If they had gotten elected they wanted to make sure that land is given back to the original inhabitants, the Dalits, through the implementation of the Forest Rights Act and work on the protection of the Western ghats.