Millions of Indians rejoiced at the landmark decision of the Supreme Court of India when it ruled out the verdict to scrap Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and decriminalized homosexuality in India. This historic verdict came out on September 6, after a long battle of the LGBTQ community, activists, lawyers against the Indian judiciary. There were celebrations in many parts of the country where people unfurled the rainbow flag that defines the freedom of the homosexuals around the world.
While the Supreme Court’s verdict allows the society to view LGBTQ community as equals, a groundbreaking initiative has been taken by one of the most renowned educational institutes of India. Interestingly, India has become the first-ever country to have a gender-neutral hostel.
Well, you read that right! In a momentous step, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai has become the first college campus in India to have a gender-neutral hostel which will be available to everyone without any discrimination whatsoever. The decision was taken by the college authorities after the continuous efforts by an informal student body named Queer Collective which has been working for the LGBTQ+ students in the campus.
TISS has marked the ground floor of the girl’s hostel as a gender-neutral space and so far 17 students have been moved into their separate block. Expressing his happiness in an interview with the ANI, the cultural secretary of TISS Student Union and a resident of the gender-neutral hostel said:
“In our daily interactions, we are not segregated naturally, biologically or socially, based on gender. It is the idea of ‘safe keeping’ at institutions that results in this crude segregation on the basis of gender, seldom leaving anything for the non-conforming identities.”
Later he said,
“It’s just like any other hostel. It is a place for everyone, but without the feeling of being segregated along the lines of gender. It is a liberal space.”
Evidently, it is a step ahead towards bringing a change in the society and the perspectives of people. While this initiative has been taken only by TISS Mumbai, there is a hope among the students of the institute that more educational institutes will bring a positive change in their campus for the LGBTQ community.