India has denied a visa to a transgender judge who was invited to the country to speak about LGBTI issues.
Alameda County Superior Court judge, Victoria Kolakowski was the first transgender person in the United State to become a trial court judge.
She was invited by the US Embassy in New Dehli to speak about LGBT law and policy as part its speaker program.
Ready to leave on March 10, Kolakowski was still waiting on a business visa to enter India.
‘Everything was arranged,’ Kolakowski in a Facebook post. ‘I was packed and ready to go.’
The 55-year-old was waiting for the visa when the Indian consulate requested more information about the program.
Kolakowsi said she was told the State Department had provided those details to the Indian government ‘well in advance’.
No chance for a second chance
As a judge it was difficult for Kolakowski to arrange the time off.
‘I cannot extend or reschedule the trip, as I don’t have time to reset what averages to 30-40 attorney appearances in cases each week,’ she said.
‘It took us weeks to clear out these two weeks.’
‘I’m very disappointed, and I’m frustrated that this got caught up in a bureaucratic loop,’ Kolakowski told the Bay Area Reporter.
‘I’m not even being told ‘no.’ I’m just being told ‘wait’ until it’s too late to do anything.’
After failing to convince Indian authorities to allow her a visa, the U.S. Embassy cancelled the trip.
‘I personally met with director general of the India Council for Cultural Relations to try to get you the requested visa, but ultimately also didn’t succeed,’ Craig L. Dicker, counselor for cultural affairs at the embassy wrote in an email.
‘I’m sorry to say that we have been left with no choice other than to cancel your program as currently scheduled.’
Kolakowski said the embassy had sent many other people to India to discuss issues such as technology and climate change, and they had no trouble getting visas.
‘I find it ironic that the problem we’re having is not with the US government that wants to send me to do this, but with the Indian government that’s blocking things,’ she said.