The world’s largest democracy kicked off its mammoth general election last week.
More than 900 million people will head to the polls over the next four weeks.
This year’s elections are the most LGBTI-inclusive yet.
For the first time, homosexual Indians will head to the polls without being regarded as a criminal after India’s Supreme Court decriminalized gay sex in a landmark ruling last year.
What’s more, transgender Indians are able to register to vote as a third gender after
Some parties have also included LGBTI issues, such as anti-discrimination legislation, same-sex marriage, and a transgender rights bill, in their manifestos.
Finally, for the first, openly-queer Indians are entering politics and putting themselves on the ballot paper. Let’s meet them:
Sneha Kale became the first ever transgender candidate to run for elections when she announced her bid last month.
The 26-year-old is contesting the Mumbai North Central seat in Maharashtra State.
Although she has a degree, like many transgender Indians, Sneha Kale begs for a living.
‘We face all sorts of discrimination, disappointment and no recognition in the society’ she told previously told the Mumbai Mirror.
She said transgender people had no access to education, employment, or housing.
‘I want to raise their questions in the Parliament, as I am one of them’ she said.
Ashwathi Rajappan, also known as Chinju, also made history last month by becoming the first intersex person to seek a seat in parliament.
The 25-year-old is running in Ernakulam, in the southern state of Kerala.
Chinju is well-known among the LGBTI and human rights community in India.
They said the lives of intersex Indians are even worse than transgender citizens.
’Society is not ready to recognize its [intersex] segment’ they told Newsrupt. ‘I would like to raise issues of the disenfranchised’ they said.
Radha is moving away from her career as a cook to run for a seat in Chennai.
She is the only transgender candidate running in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Radha has promised to address the local water crisis, garbage and drainage in her home state. She also wants to represent the transgender community on a national level.
She said after the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that recognized a third gender, there was still more work to do.
‘The verdict says trans people should have equality in terms of marriage, education, legal heirship. This has not been implemented’ she said.
Also in Mumbai, Jatin Mummy identifies as Kinnar. Kinnar and Hijra are non-binary identities in India that can refer to people also considered transgender, intersex, or eunuchs.
Jatin Mummy has engaged the 123 registered voters in their constituency to campaign door-to-door.
Jatin Mummy, 44, also promised to implement the Supreme Court ruling for the welfare of non-binary Indians.
Chirpi Bhawani is a social activist in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. She previously served on the jury of the Delhi International Film Festival.
Chirpi Bhawani has joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to contest the Prayagraj seat. She promises to ta Cole unemployment and demonetization.
Chirpi Bhawani said transgender have suffered a lot. She said the ruling party had treated transgender people ‘like beggars’.
‘AAP stood with us when no one else did’ she claimed.