The Newshour Debate : All Rights Reserved But Placebos

We are happy to inform you that the bill 377(m) implementing an immediate 8% reservation for the LGBTQIA community has been passed in the parliament today.

20:00 IST, New Delhi, India 2025

The Newshour – Times Next

The host Nirbhik Swami :
Hello and welcome you all to this pleasant evening of International LGBTQIA day with the breaking news of the government’s yet another and perhaps the most controversial step so far. We are happy to inform you that the bill 377(m) implementing an immediate 8% reservation for the LGBTQIA community has been passed in the parliament today. We are lucky to have Mr. Sachin Sindhia, spokesperson from the ruling party, Ms. Saini Kher from the opposition and our ex PM Mr. Birthwal himself!! And The founders of ERI (Equality Rights India) Dr. Sarfaraz Khan and Mr. Aratrik Sen. We will take you to our correspondent Avantika who is at the location at this very moment.

Avantika.(calling out)

Avantika(Overexcited):
Hi Nirbhik. We have just received confirmation from the home ministry that the bill 377( m) has been passed in the house today with a rough 55% in favor . This reservation includes all government sectors including all central and state government services. However there is a suggested change in the existing sc/st/obc quotas with a 2% slash from each of them. And as you can see behind us, there is already a protest march from the SRS.

“Hello Sir, what do you have to say about the bill? Why do you oppose it?”

Guy in orange (with extraordinarily animated gestures) :
It is outrageous, blasphemous, The government has removed 377 and let them stay together like normal people and now thiiiisss!!!??? Are they encouraging people to go against nature?……..hna???!!

…. Some mumble not audible as the microphone is now moving back…

Avantika:
Thank you so much Sir.

Avantika: (now struggling through crowd)
Mr. Yadav, Sir, Mr. Yadav, kindly Sir, It is being said, the PM has personally pushed MPs of his Party to vote for it. Is that true Sir?

Mr. Yadav ( In a white too bright):
Unfortunately the PM has taken the lowest measures possible. We are going to the streets tomorrow. It’s backward people like us .. err.. I mean people .. it’s my people who need reservations.. Not gays..

The pitch black Toyota storms off ..

Nirbhik:
Thank you Avantika.

Even after the government’s strong encouragement I still don’t feel any temptation towards men…

Anyway welcome you back..

So, Mr. Sindhia, how do you explain a reservation to be a solution for an issue such as this when the LGBTQIA community never even asked for this? There has been repeated statements from LGBTIQA organizations about the futility of such reservations already.

Sindhia:
Nirbhik, as there is nothing more important than humanity we have felt that this unfortunate section of society has been much neglected, underprivileged as long as and maybe more than other backward people. The purpose of the bill is to support them. It’s a push to ensure them of their basic rights.

Sarfaraj:
If you really want to ensure basic rights make sure I don’t have to file a lawsuit to prove my physical and psychological capability. No one here can deny witnessing the last comment about us being unnatural which is an everyday incident anyway.

Aratrik:
Even if they stop that they still say the ‘Gay’ word as if it is something bad.

Goswami:
And these comments still come from politicians. Are they really ignorant or unaware or is it plain politics? They insult the constitution by doing so repeatedly and the party head of the opposition or many others don’t seem much bothered?

Saini:
We do ensure that there is no such offense made by anyone from the party. These allegations are baseless. But Mr. Sindhia, with all due respect kindly take a look at the percentage of positions or seats left unreserved. It’s less than 50%. On top of that this??

Nirbhik :
The comment was not targeted to you Saini but I would like to believe you have spoken from your conscience but more importantly Mr. Sindhia from your logic and previous instances should we expect constituencies reserved for LGBT as well? If so how are you planning to do that?

Sindhia (stern & red) :
No. There is no such plan. Ms. Kher Do you mean to say that they do not have a right to get reservations just because of ..

Birthwal:
People do not need reservation .They need their basic rights. Rights to live in civil union. What are you doing about that? PM should come for an open debate…

Saini:
Again the obsession of following the footsteps of Americans blindly .That’s not even the issue at the moment. We will eventually get there and when time will be ripe. We need preparation.. But right now the government should stop this cheap politics to lure few extra votes and further damaging our institutions and services.

Aratrik:
Ladies and gentlemen. Please. There has been enough of “we will get there” or “it’s not time yet”. What exact preparation are you talking about and why have you not started it? And my suggestion will be meditation ..clears your thoughts and builds inner peace.. purely Indian too.

Nirbhik:
Maybe too ancient like Kamasutra .Coming to following foreign examples let me remind there is something called learning from others. We are following them when it comes to Walmart though. But like the saying goes pour out the bad and filter out the good. No, I’ll rephrase it. Take what suits you the best. All the politicians are only following this simple philosophy I guess. But that will take another debate show.. So lets move on..

Birthwal:
Exactly. Right to civil union bill could not even be brought to the house. Because of the constant opposition. The double standards of your party needs to end and people need a clear statement from you.

Saini:
Double standard!!?? .. Take it back…how dare you?

Sarfaraj:
Kindly come for an open debate Madam. This is not the right place for you two to fight about double standards. Lets try something constructive for a change. Mr. Sindhia you got to give legal protection to ensure the constitutional rights to these people. Right now when the draft for uniform civil code is being formed non-heterosexual couples should be under the marriage act. Did that strike you once?

Nirbhik :
We are to present exclusive double standards shown by all of you. We also have Ms. Angeera from GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocate and Defenders) India. Let us listen to her views.

Angeera :
As you are already aware Mr. Sindhia, we had submitted more than one document multiple times concerning the legal procedures to assure equal rights to the PMO and the home ministry. Each time the usual promises but nothing in action.. Now there was news everywhere about a committee being formed concerning this issue. But we were not even considered to be invited even for consultation or from today’s news I can say none of those documents made any sense to you or didn’t even reach you..

Goswami :
Thank you  Angeera. So please answer Mr. Sindhia how is it that a committee deciding on gay rights in India is being formed without a single gay person in it? Do you not find it amusing?

Sindhia:
GLAD is an international organization and we cannot include them in the parliamentary committee..

Nirbhik :
But you can appoint foreign nationalities as PM’s advisers. And since when is taking suggestions from an outsider illegal? Then what is the point of those foreign visits made for the sake of implementation of the so called cutting-edge security techniques?

Sarfaraj:
Every time you have to find an excuse of regulations whereas there are too many obvious loopholes always put into use exclusively by the government…

Nirbhik:
Besides I wonder how does the government plan to carry this out? This can be the cause of a whole new source of corruption once again. Even I can claim to be LGBTQIA. How can you prove if one is or isn’t gay for that matter. It’s most ridiculous.

Birthwal:
Ah.. That is the agenda. Create new scopes for corruption.

Nirbhik:
We will come to that. Don’t be overexcited. But also on the other hand the Chosen ones organization has welcomed the bill. We will show you what they had to say about it.

PRE-RECORDED VIDEO CLIP:

Abhiskar, The Founder:
Hello, Yes although the bill maybe flawed a bit it’s a great news and will surely help if there are our people in the government sector. The presence of LGBTs will slowly change the system from inside. Besides it might inspire coming out too.

All voices together now and none audible ..It’s the usual; Perfect chaos is achieved…..Like always.. Fractions of voices..

Sarfaraj:
Even gay guys are reluctant or unable to be openly gay. You expect..

Sindhia:
See..

Saini:
That’s again..

Nirbhik:
Ladies, gentlemen please, please.. calm down.. calm down.. Yes, Dr. Khan.

Sarfaraj:
Thank you Nirbhik. The dream of changing the system is euphoric and impractical and we need social change which will be even harder this way as it compels to isolate us. It creates divisions that politicians desire for their benefits. Not only in this particular issue.. But always this tool has been used with a mastery. Madam, Sir, with all due respect, as for the question of reservation we find it degrading.

Start of another round of shouting competition…

Nirbhik:
You all will get your turns.. Please calm down.. Please.. Please

Sarfaraj:
Please let me finish.. LGBTQIA people have been and still are deprived of their basic rights. But to imply them as backward you attack our most essential and adored possession.. Pride..We asked for equality.. not an eternal tag of minority..we are an organization for sexual equality not sexual minority..We speak for straight people as well.

Sindhia:
How does helping hurt one’s pride? Besides as it is pointed out it might encourage people to come out and be themselves. Minority helps in that..

Aratrik:
No. Even if people do come out it’s for the wrong reasons. We need a world where there is no need for coming out. The fact that we need to come out is a shame for civilization. The presumption of everyone’s being straight needs to stop. Besides, it’s like a consolation prize.. We want our basic rights as citizens of India, not asking for favors. More importantly we believe in equality. This will take us further away from acceptance, and I mean social acceptance…Setting up separate washrooms did enough to isolate transgenders and the concept of LGBT hostel is questionable as it has more to do with homophobia rather than creating a special ground. Minority is an evil word now.. It creeps inside any movement, corrupts its motive and leaves a never ending trail of disputes and further kills it by either getting it oppressed or overpowered.. Minority is just the favorite common ground of leaders to play politics on.

Nirbhik:
It might actually backfire. It sure is annoying to see your friend whose rank is nowhere near you yet getting into some prestigious institute. Now thanks to his/her sexuality. This gives a weapon to anti-LGBTQIAs. And as a majority of younger generation is opposing it, it is being much mistaken for being anti- LGBTQIA. The organization is simply sensationalizing it to turn people against LGBTQIA.

Sarfaraj:
I should have been born a little later maybe. But jokes apart, me along with my team travel to the farthest corners of the country to spread awareness among the masses. You cannot imagine how hard it is to convince people even when you are a doctor. What the government should do more than anything at the moment is to start an awareness program.

Nirbhik:
We have a caller over the phone with us.. We will hear him first. Hello n welcome .

Vibin:( offscreen):
Hi I have been observing how both Aratrik and Sarfaraj have been emphasizing the need of social awareness.. So I’ll just share a story to make you understand that.. This happened few years back. I was working as a junior manager at a corporate firm. It was the time of appraisal and employees with outstanding performances were being awarded with a gift from the company…My senior called me and handed over me the gift and asked me if I liked it or not.. as they thought it would have looked very pretty on me.. As I opened it I found a dress inside.. So you see, education doesn’t really help in having an educated mentality. People love to be bigots as long as it is cool and trendy. Although I need to clarify that I am not a fan of heteronormativity but the sole purpose in this case was to ridicule.

Aratrik :
Thank you so much for sharing that Vibin. Your words are self explanatory and precisely states the need of an awareness program.

We can never tell if the child entering puberty is growing up to be a heterosexual,/homosexual /bisexual or anything he or she grows up to be. They must include a study of different possibilities of sexual orientation in the sex education curriculum instead of filling them up only with safety measures.

Saini:
People are not ready for that and the inclusion of detailed knowledge. It might increase sexual crime or create mental imbalance at a young age.

Aratrik:
No. On the contrary that will help them understand better. They have better options to satisfy their lust nowadays than sex education books.. It is easily available to all classes of society surprisingly. The willingness of my ‘sex is taboo’ nation in this matter is unmatched.

Nirbhik:
Precisely. The sex education curriculum is supposed to help you understand your sexuality. Not only how to use contraceptives. At present the job of sex education is being done by porn. Why not give it to better hands unless obviously you have a secret agenda to produce more gymnasts.

Aratrik:
Children with alternative sexuality often start believing themselves to be abnormal because of lack of knowledge and get bullied by straight people for being different. Also there are idiotic beliefs among parents like the single gay kid can turn your super straight son gay. So I don’t have to make you understand how much change that can bring in the mentality of the upcoming generation.

Sindhia:
Well that sounds all fine and simple.. But a practical approach may not be that easy.

Saini:
Sex education is not a solution. People are uncomfortable and against it.

Birthwal :
How can you even include the term progressive in your campaigns?

Nirbhik:
It’s never easy. Most of the common folks were against vaccination at some point. But it didn’t stop us to persuade them right?

Sarfaraj:
Society will always oppose anything they are not familiar with. Remember the time dowry was made illegal? If you can recall most of the MPs back then were sternly opposed to it. Forget the masses. And it could have been passed only because the ruling party’s MP s were made to do so by the higher authorities. Society is wrong at times and you have to hit it hard for its own good though it may not feel the same.

Aratrik:
But till date you are sure to find many instances of dowry killings. That’s the problem with the law. It remains on paper, not implemented. Even when implemented it fails to change the mass. That is exactly why even though a non-heterosexual relationship has been decriminalized long back and not in the media’s highlight anymore it is sure to go in vain if you don’t change the mindset of the masses. You cannot ensure a person’s basic rights within the four walls he or she knows as home, or at a school with homophobic teachers. You cannot restrain your colleagues from making innocent , irresponsible homophobic comments, which we are more than used to anyway. And they do it without realizing it can be offensive. And lately there is a tendency of crime against same-sex couples.

Nirbhik:
And there isn’t really any effective measures from the government about this. Nor was any step taken from the Birthwal government either. Why do we always wait until things get out of hand?

Birthwal:
The police had taken steps and we had a national security crisis on our head which resulted in the negligence from the ministry’s account. We could not afford time on this.

Sarfaraj:
What about now? We don’t have one right now. The government has a view of this being an elite problem which can always be handled later. Honestly I don’t have so much free time that I can spend so much on an elite issue. Just take into account the suicide rate of transgenders. It’s hard for people like us to find a place to stay also as a lot of houseowners are homophobic. Actually most of them are. Communities have their own board where they don’t paint a very rosy picture either. But these are minor issues when compared to the incidents in rural areas.

Birthwal:
We will keep that in mind and will discuss what can be done, at least in states.

Nirbhik:
Apart from that the scariest ones are the homophobic doctors. They seem to be the biggest bigots and won’t even acknowledge WHO. So many countries have made such practices a criminal offence which also needs to be put into action here.

Sarfaraj:
And the claims of the Rationalist and Humanist organization. It is indeed very rational and full of strange illogical examples. One more thing I want to point out is the whole argument of this group of homosexuality being a choice or not is not even relevant as it is not up to you to decide what goes on between two individual with consent. And they have a huge agenda against the dangers of anal sex but sex between two homosexuals is not necessarily penetrative and lots of straight people enjoy anal sex as well.

Sindhia:
OK. The case of medical practice – I can take it up to the health ministry and will personally push for it.

Aratrik:
So, give people their birthrights. Right to love, to separate, right to marry or not to, to divorce, to adopt children. Give them dignity not occasional bribes. And kindly do not sensationalize the issue. It only causes harm, doesn’t put sense in the mass.

Nirbhik:
In an earlier discussion you argued about the need of marriages as such. You referred to marriage as an unnecessarily social complexity the purpose of which is to seek an acknowledgement when it should not need any acknowledgement from anyone else but the two.. Then why are you mentioning marriage now?

Aratrik:
That’s my opinion as it is a rather heteronormative concept and that is the reason I always emphasize on the need of a person’s right to express his / her sexuality without any fear or discomfort rather than only on the right to marry. But not all feel the same way about marriage. Besides everyone should have the option and I can’t decide or impose a lifestyle on anyone. Besides in the present context there are benefits which one will miss out unless you are officially a spouse and there are legal complexities such as a situation when a couple is moving out of the country or other cases such as insurances and many more which I don’t have to explain.

Sarfaraj:
People who think this will bring the Indian culture to its doom, just think for once that culture is not anything stagnant .It changes and has changed over time. Take a look at our history. Examples are plenty. Culture is for people’s well-being. Not the other way round. It changes and evolves in accord with people and helps mankind grow. It’s our duty to introspect and help society or culture or religion grow, reform them for their own good, for humanity.

Sindhia:
I have only one point. Even long after the decriminalization and when people are even discussing the possibilities of a civil union why do you need so many pride marches. Isn’t it exhibitionism?

Aatrik:
I don’t hear the word exhibitionism when people shout about being a ‘mard’ or ‘sanatan nari’ or different religious groups block roads for their processions. However to justify this with the logic of what someone else is doing, is low. I’ll explain why it isn’t exhibitionism. Closeted homosexual people actually outnumber the open homosexuals of the country. You can check the membership counts of the discreet dating sites. You will be shocked. Why so? People are scared and even ashamed to be anything but straight. In western countries where gay marriages have long been legalized homophobia still persists. The pride is a place for people to be themselves, at least for a day, to instill the self-respect in them; to put the courage to be who they are. Be happy you don’t need a pride. We don’t go to pride to convey our lust, we march for respect and to prove our existence.. To end any opportunities of debates like this..

Nirbhik:
We always talk about reforms and being open minded.. Especially when criticizing the opponent. But we get cold feet when it comes to our own self or particular sect of the society or religion. So I’ll end this show with this request to all to ask everything including your beliefs, religions, to introspect and find the facts: think twice before opposing anything and try controlling the urge to comment or pass judgment on another’s life. Don’t be a blind supporter or a bind opponent. Welcome the changes as change has been the only consistent thing.

Thank you for being a part. Good night.

About the author

Ritinkar Das

Just an individual struggling to be spontaneous and too thrilled to learn.