FRAMELINE: Purple Skies: Voices of Indian Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transmen

Purple Skies: Voices of Indian Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transmen

This upbeat documentary accomplishes many things in its short running time. It details the advocacy work of two wonderful Indian organizations: Sangini, the first helpline for lesbians, begun in 1997 by the indomitable activist Betu Singh and Umang, an LGBT support group based in Mumbai. Leaders from both groups talk about how they have sheltered LGBT people from angry families and police and then appeared before magistrates with them to argue successfully for fair treatment and release.

This persecution is an effect of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which since its 19th-century British colonial origins has made “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” a crime carrying a life sentence. LGBT people danced in the streets in July 2009, when that law was declared unconstitutional. But four years later that judgment was overturned—and the law remains in effect. Perhaps the most heartening thing this film does is to tell us the many stories of ordinary Indians who, empowered by the brief death of Section 377, vowed never to return to the closet, even when the ruling was reinstated. In fact, being made illegal again helped to galvanize parts of the LGBT community. Happily for everyone, that prospect seems within reach, with the Supreme Court of India’s recent official recognition of transgender people as “also citizens of India” deserving “equal opportunity to grow.”

India , 2014 , 66 min.
Director: Sridhar Rangayan

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