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Queer Liberation and the Struggle for Power

Updated: Jan 30

Queer liberation and the struggle for power

Image Credit: Harper's Bazar


The Article aims to understand the concept of power through the lenses of the queer liberation movement and how it impacts the rights and liberty of the LGBTQIA+ Community. The concept of sexuality and gender has been used as a political tool to exercise power through various means like laws that are discriminatory against women and the queer community. With the brief analysis of the Queer theory, the impact of heteronormativity and dynamics of social exclusion was understood. 


The concept of gender and sexuality has been used as a political tool to exercise power through various means like making laws that are discriminatory against women and the queer community. For example, The Rape laws in India are not gender neutral and do not take into account male as a victim in Section 375 (9) of the IPC which only considers the rape of  women and there is no clause for the rape of men, in this way the right to seek the remedy of the queer community is often not met with justice due to such discriminatory laws. Similarly, there is no such  provision for criminalisation of marital rape in India which violates a perons’s dignity, bodily autonomy through a form of sexual assault.  They have been devoid of human rights and the people in power have not only neglected their entire existence but have also imposed discriminatory laws which would hamper the lives of the queer community in the form of body politics or promoting conversion therapy.

Although with the advent of industrialisation and liberalization, they have accepted the existence of the queer community and moved towards a more inclusive approach but still in contemporary times, discriminatory bills like trans bill and abortion bill hamper the growth and potential of the marginalized community. For example in India, According to the Transgender Protection Act 2019, a person must provide the magistrate with proof of surgery in order to identify as either male or female which goes against the NALSA ruling of self-identification of gender.  Ultimately providing the District Magistrate (DM) with a great deal of power, opening the door to abuse and arbitrariness.

Sexuality and gender are viewed by queer theory as social constructs that have an impact on how individuals display their sexual orientation and gender identity in public. The result is that these ideas are frequently reduced to manipulable binary options. With respect to more conventional IR issues, it critically assesses the assumption that all civilizations are at different points along a linear path of political and economic development or adhere to a similar set of norms. Because of this, it promotes uncertainty, failure, and conflict as a challenge to the progressive ideology that rules many foreign policy and development programs.

Queer Liberation Movement

Queer is an umbrella term for the people belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community. the term is inclusive to every gender identity and sexual orientation, Throughout history, the queers have been marginalized and subjected to scrutiny, people were not allowed to express themselves in medieval times, or else they were punished severely, stoned to death, hanged or corrective rapes were sanctioned by the state which was strongly influenced by the religious leaders who propagated hate towards the homosexuals describing it as sin in their religious textbooks. Although they are still used in some parts of the world, coercive actions against LGBTQ people were not outlawed until much later. This transformed the stigma and perception of LGBTQ people throughout history. 

Gay pride struggle queer struggle

Image Credit: The Guardian

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) made history by stating that homosexuality is neither a mental illness nor a disease. The queers were always excluded and neglected from society because they did not conform to the traditional notion of the binaries and due to this, the queers were secluded and not a part of the decision-making bodies, and their basic human rights were not taken into account. As public media and the values of human rights grew stronger over time, campaigners from many backgrounds came together. These campaigners found encouragement in encouraging medical research, forbidden books, expanding sex research, and a democratic environment. The LQBTIA+ movement was founded with the goal of granting fundamental rights—such as marriage, adoption, and other legal privileges—to queer individuals who were relegated to society's margins. 

A turning point for the LGBTQ+ community occurred in 1969 as a result of the Stonewall riots in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. The riots, which were an outburst against police brutality, gave rise to the gay liberation movement and the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights. A new generation of activist groups, such as the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activist Alliance, emerged in the wake of the gay liberation movement and adopted much more combative strategies throughout the 1970s.The gay struggle is a broad movement that aims to advance the rights and equality of LGBT people and put an end to discrimination against them.

Queer Liberation Movement in India

The LGBTQ+ community in India has a long history, dating back to ancient times, when the subcontinent was widely known for its acceptance of Hindu spiritual beliefs and cultures.The first report to officially acknowledge the status of gay people in India and address the discrimination they faced was "Less Than Gay: A Citizens' Report on the Status of Homosexuality in India," which was published in 1991 by seven members of the AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA). In addition to calling for the repeal of Section 377 and the Army, Navy, and Air Force Act of 1950, the study also requested the rights of the homosexual population in India. The ABVA planned a public protest in New Delhi in response to this news, which is regarded as the country's first public protest against anti-sodomy laws. In the year 2008, gay pride parade was organised nationwide in 5 cities of Delhi, Indore, Pondicherry, kolkata and Bangalore with more than 2000 people. In 2019, Supreme Court of India decriminalized homosexuality and repealed the draconian section 377 of IPC which it ruled unconstitutional and it was the first time Supreme Court took cognisance of gay rights. The gay movement in India still confronts numerous obstacles in spite of these advancements. The caste structure, planned marriages, societal ideals, and the likelihood of being disinherited are among the elements that make homosexuality taboo in India. The state of LGBTQ+ rights in India as of October 2023 is not good. There are still numerous obstacles to be solved, even in light of recent major advancements like the legalizing of homosexuality and the acceptance of transgender persons as a third gender, there is still many challenges to overcome like allowing openly homosexual individuals to serve in military, allowing same-sex couple right to marry and adoption by the same-sex couple.

Dynamics of exclusion

LGBTQIA+ individuals are portrayed as the "other," the "foreign," and their sole objective is to undermine the national effort from the inside. All of these have an impact on how well LGBT individuals can integrate into society and has a potential detrimental impact on their capacity to access housing, employment, education, political participation, and personal safety. LGBTQIA+ persons may experience various forms of marginalization in addition to homophobia and transphobia, such as racism, sexism, poverty, or other challenges that are intersectional in nature. These marginalizing factors have a negative impact on the queers' mental health. The main reason why many LGBTQIA+ people experience prejudice is because of negative attitudes or feelings about non-heterosexual identities, relationships, and communities because they express an identity or expression that is opposite of the conventional heterosexual norms. Healthcare facilities have been inaccessible and unsatisfactory to the queer people, they encounter disrespect or often feel violated by medical professionals, which discourages them from accessing services. For example- gay men are not allowed to donate blood because of the fear of sexually transmitted diseases.

In terms of gender roles attributed to the performance of sex roles, the heteronormative culture has also impacted the relationship dynamics of same-sex couples. Some queer theorists have also questioned how marriage originated from historical heterosexual practices and the role that religion plays in private practices like marriage and family planning. 


There is a greater need to have representation of the people belonging to the LBGTQIA+ community because they constitute a portion of the population, especially in contemporary times when 1 in 5 teens of Gen Z identify with the LQBTQIA+ Community, it is high time to acknowledge the rights of the community which has been devoid of basic human rights and have suffered years of segregation. The mentality of excluding someone from policymaking or any form of authority is very orthodox. A person's sexual orientation is a person's choice which pertains to individual freedom and liberty. If there is greater representation from the LGBTQ community, the rights and needs of the community would be better addressed and implemented. 

A person who belongs to the binaries of the heteronormative society can only sympathize with the cause of the community, they aren't familiar with the pain and suffering that the people of the community face daily because of the general notion and myths which the society perceives about the queers. Same-sex couples are devoid of the right to marry and adopt in many countries including India and transgender are often discriminated against daily, devoiding them of basic human rights like access to healthcare facilities and education. In decision-making bodies like the legislators and the think tanks, if there is going to be a varied array of representation from the queer community, it would not only pave the way for progressive and inclusive policies but also sensitisation and normalization of queer cause.


By: Aryan Rana

Aryan Rana (he/him) is a second-year B.A. LLB student at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab. I am an intersectional-feminist who advocates for gender and Human rights. I have a keen interest in identity-politics, policy making and International affairs. Also, I love cats!



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2.  McConnell, E. A., Janulis, P., Phillips, I. I., Truong, R., & Birkett, M. (2018). Multiple minority stress and LGBT community resilience among sexual minority men. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 5(1), 1-12.

3.      David Carter, Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution, Macmillan, 2004

4.  Nadal, K. L. (2013). Contemporary perspectives on lesbian, gay, and bisexual psychology. That's so gay! Microaggressions and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.

5.  Human Rights Campaign (2009). At the intersection: Race, sexual orientation and gender. Retrieved from Moradi, B., & Grzanka, P. R. (2017). Using intersectionality responsibly: Toward critical epistemology, structural analysis, and social justice activism. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 64(5), 500-513.

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