Gender Beat: White House Website Removes LGBT Page; Patna to Host Gender Lit Fest

A round-up of what’s happening in the worlds of gender and sexuality.

White House website removes LGBT page shortly after Trump takes oath

Minutes after Donald Trump was sworn in as the president of the US on Friday, several social issues, including a page dedicated to LGBT rights, disappeared from the White House website.

The White House website has previously listed information about legislative LBGT progress and has provided support programs for the members of the community, International Business Times reported.

According to Washington Post, the LGBT community and its advocates have voiced concerns about what the new administration could mean for the progress made towards equality under former President Barack Obama.

Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 3.19.28 PM

A screen grab of the White House website.

Trump has in the past gone back and forth on his stance on same-sex marriage. Vice President Mike Pence, however, has throughout his political career taken a strong anti-gay-rights stance.

According to an opinion column by Nico Lang in the Los Angeles Times, in his campaign, the Republican president had pledged to “cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.”

If he does go ahead it, Trump would reverse crucial protections for LGBT workers, hence allowing legal discrimination against members of the community. He has also expressed his support for the First Amendment Defence Act, which would prohibit federal action against anyone ­­– businesses, landlords and health care providers – who denies services to LGBT individuals based on their religious beliefs.

All of the old content from Obama’s administration can still be accessed at the Obama White House archive.

In Bengaluru, transgender prison inmates face abuse and neglect

When a transgender individual is brought to the prison at Parappana Agrahara in Bengaluru, they are first examined by the chief medical officer. If they have male genitals, they are classified as men, writes Mrinalika Roy for the Thompson Reuters Foundation. So it goes for those with female genitals.

These actions defy Supreme Court’s 2014 NALSA judgment, which states that the gender to which a person belongs is to be determined by the person concerned.

This protocol, Roy says, often makes them prone to bullying by other inmates and even to sexual assault. The transgender prisoners also face neglect when it comes to medical treatment.


There is a general lack of awareness about the treatment of transgenders in the prison system. Credit: Reuters

“Most medical professionals employed in prisons across the state are ill-equipped to look after transgender individuals,” lawyer Ramya Jawahar Kudekallu of the Alternate Law Forum told Reuters, adding that there is also apathy and disregard for the well-being of the members of the community in prison.

According to a 2015 National Crime Records Bureau report, of the total expenditure incurred by Karnataka jails in 2015-16, less than 2% was spent on medical provisions.

Apart from a bias against the community, there is also a general lack of awareness. Transgenders who choose their gender often require hormone replacement therapy, which they are highly unlikely to have access to once they are incarcerated.

According to Reuters, the Centre for Law and Policy Research is planning to file a lawsuit on transgender health for inmates. Advocates of transgender rights assert that the problem, however, is not restricted to Bengaluru but is prevalent in prisons and jails in other parts of the country as well.

In July 2014, Times of India reported that a court in Delhi had called for separate jail and prison provisions for transgenders with additional sessions judge Kamini Lau stating that transgender inmates “cannot be shuttled between man and woman depending upon convenience” of the criminal justice system.

Patna to host gender literature festival 

Patna is set to host the world’s first Gender Literature Festival in April, which in line with Bihar’s bid to consolidate the women constituency.

The three-day festival, set to begin April 7, will see writers – mostly women – from across the world with sessions focused on gender equity, discrimination, and challenges and opportunities for women, Indian Express reported.

One of the sessions in the event being organised by the Gender Resource Centre under the Women Development Corporation of the Bihar Social Welfare Department will be centred on LGBT issues.

Bihar CM at a programme

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. Credit: PTI

“The festival will discuss the relationship of men, women and transgenders with society and their conflicts,” Chandan Yadav, the Gender Resource Centre consultant and coordinator for festival told Indian Express.

The Nitish Kumar-led state government has taken several initiatives to promote gender equality including a 50% reservation for women in panchayats and local bodies and a 35% reservation for women in government jobs.

Gender equal pension plan unveiled in Sweden

The Swedish government has announced that the country’s pensions review committee has formulated a plan aimed at achieving gender equal pensions and reducing the pay gap in the country. According to a report in The Local, Swedish women earn an average of 30% less than men through their pensions.

Among other things, the eight-part plan seeks to review the “basic cover” in Sweden’s pension system.

“We know that many pensioners have a tough time and 80% of those taking a guarantee pension are women. An important part of the on going work is, therefore, to see how the basic cover can be strengthened. A comprehensive review of basic cover hasn’t been done since it was introduced 20 years ago and it’s high time it was done,” Annika Strandhäll, the Swedish social security minister, said in a press release.

In the recent years, the country has launched several gender equality initiatives, The Local reported, including an authority dedicated to working towards a gender-equal society.

That’s it for this week! If you liked what you read, please consider subscribing to this weekly newsletter.

If you have any comments or suggestions on what could be carried in this column, write to me at [email protected].

Read Comments