“…surveys show that nearly 60% of the LGBT people are harassed in their workplace, whether they are closeted or out… I think though, that if you are out, if you speak up, if you work with your company to create a framework both for you to be treated equally and for a culture of inclusion, it will be a step ahead rather than if you don’t…”


“We don’t allow anyone to discriminate on the basis of a variety of things including sexual orientation, gender performance, how one dresses and so on… we are committed to creating an LGBT friendly organisation through policies…”

Mumbai boy Darshan Mandhana finally wins Mr Gay India crown on third attempt

Picture Source: Facebook
Picture Source: Facebook

Published on 12th February, 2017 in Mid-day

In the finale round held in Mumbai on Friday, 31-year-old Darshan Mandhana was crowned Mr Gay World India (MGWI) 2017. Mandhana, an HR professional from Mumbai, had made it to the top three, along with Sai Ganesh Krishnamurthy from Bangalore and Rohan Pujari from Mumbai. Last year, Anwesh Sahoo from Odisha had won this title.

Mandhana had participated in MGWI twice before, but didn’t make it. Speaking to mid-day, an overjoyed Mandhana said, “It is an honour to be winning a pageant that stands for a larger cause. I had made a lot of effort to prepare myself this year.”

He hails from Jaiselpur near Kolhapur, Maharashtra, and says that the support of his family and the community played a key role. “My family loves me the way I am which gives me strength. My partner and the community were by my side and they guided me through the journey,” he says.

Mandhana’s entry would now be submitted to the world pageant, which is to be held in Spain this year. “It is a huge responsibility to be representing the community and the country at the world pageant,” he said. “The expectations are to build on a strong personality with respect to diction and body sculpting. There will be training sessions from
experts as well.”

Commenting on Mandhana’s victory, National Producer of MGWI, Sushant Divgikar and Mr Gay World 2014, said, “It is not just a beauty pageant, but about finding a global leader for the LGBT community. Mandhana’s never-give-up attitude was loved by the judges a lot and contributed to his victory,” said Divgikar.

Coming from a modest background, Mandhana says, he stayed strong to reach this far. “This competition states that each one of us can stand up for ourselves and make a difference,” he signed off.

India left far behind: Nepal’s new LGBT non-discrimination laws put even the liberal West to shame

In a groundbreaking move, the new Nepal Constitution has explicitly included rights for LGBT individuals, while stopping short of legalising same-sex marriage.

According to a report by HRC Global and Pink Pages, Nepal has enshrined equal rights and freedom from discrimination in Articles 12, 18 and 42 of the new constitution.

Incredibly, while many western countries have legalised same sex marriage, none have provided for explicit and full anti-discrimination legislation in their constitutions. Thus, Nepal joins South Africa and Ecuador as the third country to provide full protections for LGBT people in its national constitution..

Naturally, it is the first Asian country to provide such protections.

This is Nepal’s first constitution as a federal republic following the dissolution of the 239-year-old monarchy by a parliamentary vote in 2008.

According to HRC Global, Article 12 states that citizens will be allowed to choose their preferred gender identity on their citizenship document. The choices available are male, female or other.

Article 18 states that gender and sexual minorities will not be discriminated against by the state and by the judiciary in the application of laws. It further adds that the government may make special provisions through laws to protect, empower and advance the rights of gender and sexual minorities and other marginalized and minority groups.

Article 42 lists gender and sexual minorities among the groups that have a right to participate in state mechanisms and public services to promote inclusion.

The new constitution explicitly states that “sexual and gender minorities” cannot be discriminated against by the state or the judiciary. While mention of same-sex marriage has been avoided, all issues related to marriage will henceforth be handled by the civil code. This provides groundwork for the eventual legalisation of same-sex marriage in Nepal.

“This is a momentous step forward for LGBT equality in Nepal. The nation’s leadership has affirmed that its LGBT citizens deserve the constitutional right to live their lives free from discrimination and fear,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global. “We congratulate LGBT Nepalis and their allies for this historic victory, and hope to see other nations across Asia and the globe take similar steps to ensure full legal equality for their LGBT citizens,” said HRC Global director Ty Cobb.

LGBT groups have long agitated for legalisation of same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination legislation in the new Nepal Constitution. While their demand for gay marriage remains unmet, Nepal has certainly created history, not just in Asia but throughout the world.

Thus, as the news media remains focused on the protests calling for declaring Nepal a Hindu state, the country’s constitution has just provided a huge shot in the arm for those fighting for LGBT rights in Asia. It’s time India took serious note.

  • DNA

How legal tide turned on same-sex marriage in the US

Same sex marriage is now legal in the entire US after a Supreme Court ruling striking down state marriage bans.
The ruling means all US states must grant marriage licences to gay and lesbian couples and recognise marriages that have taken place in other states.

So how did we get to this point?
In 1996, the US Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
In 2003, Massachusetts judges ruled the state constitution allowed gay marriage, and marriage licences followed shortly after that. In the following years, a handful of states passed gay marriage bans while others began working towards allowing same-sex unions – either by court order or legislation.
One high-profile ban occurred by referendum in California in 2008 after courts had previously allowed same-sex marriage.
This continued across the US until the Supreme Court heard a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.

What did justices have to decide in this case?
In this March 6, 2015, photo, Jim Obergefell speaks to a member of the media after joining the Human Rights Campaign as they deliver what they say are 207,551 copies of the “People’s Brief” that calls for full nationwide marriage equality, to the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington.
Jim Obergefell brought a lawsuit against the state of Ohio after the state refused to recognise his marriage to his late husband
The justices, who had previously stopped short of resolving the question of same-sex marriage nationally, had to consider whether or not states were constitutionally required to issue marriage licences and if states were required to recognise same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

How many states previously allowed same-sex unions?
Before the ruling, 36 states were issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples, as well as Washington DC, which sets its own marriage laws but is not legally a state.
A referendum on gay marriage in California in 2008 put the legal status of previously performed marriages in question
A critical turning point came in October 2014, when the Supreme Court chose not to hear appeals against lower court rulings that had overturned same-sex marriage bans – expanding the legality of gay unions to many more states.
In other states, same-sex marriage has been approved either through legislation or voter referenda.
Michigan couples were briefly able to marry before a court stayed a ruling overturning its ban.

What have been the key Supreme Court rulings?
On 6 October 2014, the court turned away appeals from five states with gay marriage bans on the books that had challenged court rulings overturning those bans.
In challenging the gay marriage bans, proponents relied on a 2013 Supreme Court ruling in the case of United States v Windsor.
Edith Windsor was the plaintiff in the last gay marriage case at the Supreme Court
In that case, the court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (Doma), which barred the federal government from recognising same-sex marriages.
Under Doma, for example, individuals in same-sex marriages were ineligible for benefits from federal programmes such as the Social Security pension system and some tax allowances if their partners died.
Another key case, Hollingsworth v Perry of 2013, was filed by two lawyers, Theodore Olson and David Boies, working together on behalf of their California clients, Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier and another couple, Jeffrey Zarrillo and Paul Katami.
They argued that the Supreme Court should strike down a state law, called Proposition 8, which stated that marriage is between a man and a woman. The law, approved by California voters in 2008, overrode a state Supreme Court decision that allowed for same-sex marriage.

What is next?
Marriages will continue as before in the 36 states. The remaining states will have to issue licences, although it is unclear how long they have to comply with the court’s ruling. However, there were reports of court clerk offering licences only an hour after the Supreme Court decision.