In a recent episode of Satyamev Jayate, STAR’s groundbreaking social awareness series, Bollywood star and host Aamir Khan examines the struggles facing India’s LGBT community. Through interviews with experts, activists, and victims, he brings to light the discrimination and violence that the community still suffers, and he urges viewers to begin accepting alternative sexualities as part of nature.
Khan’s guests detail how difficult it is for members of India’s LGBT community to live a normal life, and they share personal stories of hardship. Simran Shaikh, a transgender woman, reveals that she was kicked out of her house at 16, and to this day, her family refuses to speak to her. Other guests, such as psychiatrist Dr. Anjali Chhabria, speak out against attempts to “cure” homosexuality medically through shock treatments and other brutal techniques. “The doctors who do this are absolutely wrong,” Dr. Chhabria says. “Such treatments should not be done because [homosexuality] is not a disease… It is completely natural.”
Amidst these painful stories, Khan argues that there are also stories of hope and acceptance. Gazal Dhaliwal, Khan’s first guest, had a sex change operation to become a woman, and her parents supported her completely. “My parents have been such a big support for me in life that I can’t express it in words,” she says. After her operation, they helped re-introduce her to the community in which she grew up, and she was surprised to find how readily her neighbors accepted her. “All those who were important to me didn’t abandon me,” she says.
In addition to the daily abuse that the LGBT community suffers, Khan also points out that the government recently missed a major opportunity to show its support for the community. In 2009, the Supreme Court upheld Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a law passed in 1860 that forbids “unnatural sexual acts,” in effect making homosexuality illegal. The NAZ Foundation and the Humsafar Trust are two organizations actively petitioning the government to overturn Section 377, and Khan endorses them as the episode’s philanthropy partners.
“Friends, we’ve been torturing, hurting, and making fun of a section of our society for a long time,” Khan says as the episode ends. “We don’t have the right to do this. We shouldn’t do this. Get rid of your fear and accept this aspect of nature.”
To watch the episode in full with English subtitles and to learn more about the issues discussed each week, visit SatyamevJayate.in.