Meredith Williams

Meredith Williams (Vikalp Women’s Group): Meredith worked for seven years in human resources at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). She then joined the PBS Foundation to work on fundraising. Meredith was in her final year at Georgetown University Law Center when she undertook her fellowship at Vikalp and visited Vikalp in the spring of 2011 with a team of students from Georgetown Law’s Community Justice Project clinic. After her fellowship Meredith wrote: “There is no question that the best part of my fellowship was the people that I worked with. Maya and Indira, and the work that they do, are inspiring, but also the people that Parma serves were 100% gracious and welcoming to us.”

If Section 377 is struck down, what’s next?

22 Jun

On July 11th, India’s Supreme Court is scheduled to begin hearing arguments in the highly publicized Naz Foundation case. These arguments had previously scheduled for April, 2011, but the court chose to defer hearing the case until the summer. In 2009, the Delhi High Court decriminalized Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which made sodomy a criminal offence. The Indian government chose not to challenge this ruling, but in India, interested parties are also able to appeal rulings in the name of public interest.

While there are a number of parties on either side of the case, we have been working with the Alternative Law Forum, based in Bangalore, to track the progress of the case and the arguments that will be made in the Supreme Court. On their website, they maintain an excellent primer on the arguments in favor of upholding the Delhi High Court’s ruling and the history of the case.

Since the LGBT community in India is hopeful that the Delhi High Court’s ruling will be upheld, lawyers, advocates and experts have already begun thinking about what’s next in the fight for protecting LGBT individuals in India. One area of focus has been on getting the Indian government to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories under the proposed Equal Opportunity Commission bill which is currently sitting in the Indian government. The current proposed bill would prohibit discrimination based on “sex, caste, language, religion, disability, descent, place of birth, residence, race or any other” and the hope is that sexual orientation and gender identity are sufficiently analogous to these categories to also be protected under this bill. Some other concerns with the bill include questions of whether the Commission will have sufficient power to enforce an anti-discrimination policy to hold employers and schools accountable and whether (and if) private organizations should be included as well.

This summer, we hope to help Parma use results from the survey of transgender individuals in Gujarat that they are currently conducting to help illustrate why it’s crucial to include gender identity as a protected category in an anti-discrimination policy.

Posted By Meredith Williams

Posted Jun 22nd, 2011


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