The Indian government is trying for the first time to focus on the problems of transgenders, gays and lesbians as a group that needs suitable policy interventions to deal with social or moral stigma.
In the draft national youth policy 2012, India recognizes youth not as a homogenous group but nine ‘target groups’ having differentials based on habitat, environment, socio-economic status of their families and their own lifestyles.
The highlights are the LGBT community and HIV/AIDS patients, who have both been categorised as groups that suffer from stigma.
‘Transgenders have for long been the butt of ridicule and derision of society. They have virtually lived a life of complete segregation from the mainstream,’ reads the draft policy.
‘The gays and lesbians have never been accepted in society as same-gender sex has always been treated in our society as perverted and immoral behaviour,’ it adds. ‘The result of these deeply embedded stereotypes and biases has been that gays and lesbians are reluctant to express their sexual preferences openly.’
The other seven ‘target groups’ are students, migrants, rural youth, tribal youth, those at risk (such as sex workers, drug users and trafficking victims), youths in violent conflicts (living in trouble spots), school dropouts and youths in institutional care, according to the Calcutta Telegraph.
Minister of youth affairs and sports Ajay Maken proposes to change the target age group from the existing 13-35 years to 16-30 years, which has drawn questions for ruling out most of the country’s so called ‘youth leaders’, if extended to politics.
Maken has also come up with a ‘youth development index’ that will regularly assess policy impact on indicators such as health, education, work amenities and election participation.