On August 15, India’s Independence day we launched online lending in India with our partner microfinance institution, Prayas. Prayas works in the Kutch district in the state of Gujarat. One of the unique initiatives of Prayas is towards the gay and transgender community in Kutch.
Until recently homosexuality was a criminal offence in India. The Delhi High Court decriminalised homosexual intercourse between consenting adults four years ago (July, 2009) and this new law is applicable throughout India, but homosexuality is still a taboo and is not socially acceptable in India. These communities are discriminated and if economically weak they are often treated badly as abnormal people. This community faces the challenge of poverty as well as strong social discrimination making it much harder. Prayas has taken commendable steps focussing on the gay and transgender communities in the Kutch district.
Prayas works with around 600 gay and transgender persons from Gandhidham & Anjar block of Kutch District. Prayas field workers have found that due to social pressure, the gay and transgender individuals do not come out openly. Because of social unacceptability and opposition from the religious communities; gay men especially in small cities are scared and often lead a double life. Under family pressures they get married and have children too. They tend to have partners with similar sexual orientation secretly and some of them also keep switching partners. They are exposed to serious health risks that are often not addressed because of the lack of knowledge.
Prayas is working on two major areas with the gay and transgender community:
1) Providing education on safe sex practices to avoid HIV & sexually transmitted diseases
2) Improving their economical condition with microlending programs
Prayas is developing and delivering educational programmes for the gay and transgender community by forming a social community called “PANJO”. The biggest challenge is to identify gay men and make them join the community. Fear of social discrimination, isolation and rejection from parents keeps them disinterested in such causes. To solve this problem Prayas has enlisted a few gay volunteers who encourage other individuals to join the community. You can see pictures from some of their HIV- AIDS awareness programs here.
Prayas is also encouraging them to improve their financial condition and helping them by providing microloans. With the commitment of not disclosing any identities, Prayas proactively approaches and lends to female members of the gay person’s family. We are sure that the unbiased social focus and dedicated approach of Prayas and your support will bring a positive change in the lives of this socially excluded community of Indian society. Let us come together to support this community and many others on http://www.unitedprosperity.org.