The joy of getting recognised under the Minorities Welfare Department, after years of struggle, has proved short lived for the transgender community in Andhra Pradesh. Angry protests by religious minority groups forced the Andhra Pradesh government to go back on its decision to include sexual minorities, technically called MSM, or men who have sex with men, in the Minorities Welfare Department.
"Clubbing them along with the religious minorities of Andhra Pradesh is meaningless. It is a senseless thing the government has done,'' said
Aijaz Farruq a community leader in Hyderabad.
Due to the tremendous pressure from all corners, mainly the vote banks in the state, the government too gave in without any attempts to reconcile the protesting groups.
"Minority welfare is a religious department. Everyone protested. I told the Chief Minister. He said we will change it, we made a mistake. So it is being done,'' said Ahamadullah, the state Minorities Welfare Minister.
And with decision an estimated 1.2 lakh gays and transgenders in Andhra Pradesh, who had got official recognition for the first time after a Government Order just last month, are back to where they started from.
"Definitely we will come in the Minority Welfare Department. So we have to take services from government through that only. Someone has suggested that we should be thrown in Women Welfare Department. That is not correct. They have to accept that we are minorities,'' said Krishna, the President of Suraksha, Community Organisation.
Even though neighbouring state Tamil Nadu has a separate Welfare Board for the minorities, clearly a reflection of societal bias and confusion exists in Andhra Pradesh that has forced the government to reverse its decision at a juncture where it could set a good example.