Out & Equal partners with local NGOs to advance LGBT rights in India
Twitter Handle: @OutandEqual | Hashtags: #LGBTworkers, #Sec377
“We have a duty and a responsibility as a community to stand up when we see injustice.” @Selisse_Berry
January 28, 2014, Bangalore, India— Today, India’s Supreme Court upheld its December 11, 2013 ruling to reinstate Chapter XVI, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, criminalizing sexual activities “against the order of nature,” including same-sex relationships. The decision occurs concurrently with talks being held by Selisse Berry, Founder & CEO of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates in Bangalore to discuss workplace equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Ms. Berry met with LGBT community leaders and corporate partners to discuss the need for LGBT equality and the ways in which heterosexual allies can support their LGBT colleagues during this time.
The purpose of the cross-organizational meeting was to share best practices and create an action plan for next steps for safe and equitable workplaces. After the law passed, several LGBT employee resource groups were rumored to have closed. Some people who are openly LGBT at work shared that they are now feeling unsafe.
“At a moment when the LGBT movement in India has suffered a significant legal setback, the infusion of energy and solidarity that Out & Equal brought here was heartening. Multinational companies with operations in India are scrambling to find a response that upholds their international values of nondiscrimination and inclusivity, while also being sensitive to the local legal situation. Out & Equal, which blends a deep understanding of the corporate mindset and a strong commitment to the long-term struggle for LGBT equality, is an invaluable voice at the table,” said LGBT activist Minal Hajratwala.
“While marriage rights for same-sex couples are advancing in the U.S. and around the world, the basic human rights of LGBT people are in danger in many countries across Asia and Africa. In the past sixty days, same-sex relationships have become illegal in Nigeria and India, and persecution in Russia and Uganda has become a grave concern,” said Selisse Berry. “We have a duty and a responsibility as a community to stand up when we see injustice. I know that the partnership between Out & Equal, our corporate partners and local NGOs will advance equality for LGBT people here in India.”
Berry is meeting with senior executives from major corporations operating in India to advocate for the ongoing support of LGBT employee resource groups and inclusive policies. The cross-organizational meeting was planned by a group of corporate executives participating in the Out & Equal Executive Forum, a multi-day conference convening LGBT executives to discuss issues facing the LGBT community in multi-national corporations.
Out & Equal has had great success in the United States for the past seventeen years in helping companies create environments that value and respect all employees. Over the past few years, the focus has expanded with the first Global LGBT Workplace Summit in London last year, and partnerships with local organizations across Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
“Working with these groups of brave leaders has been an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience. I know that together we are creating safer and more equitable work environments for LGBT people working in India,” said Berry.