Trans, gender Nonconfirming & Intersex Collectives strongly condemn Kinnar Akhara’s support for Ram temple at Ayodhya, India

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We the undersigned strongly condemn the statements made by the representative of the Ujjainbased Kinnar Akhara, Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, supporting the right-wing call for the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya. On 4th November 2018, the following video was available in the public domain, where this demand was stated:

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Two days following this video, the Indian national daily Indian Express through its article, “Kinnar akhara bats for Ram temple in Ayodhya, second term for PM Modi”
( provided further details.

The issue of building a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Ram at his supposed birthplace in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, breeds communal tension because this alleged birthplace is the location of a 16th century mosque, the Babri Masjid. The Hindu right-wing call to destroy the Babri Masjid was heeded in vigilante action on Dec 6th, 1992, with Hindu mobs attempting to demolish the Masjid.

This heralded a new era of communal tension and was followed by unprecedented violence in several places in India, including in the state of Gujarat, where communal riots and brutal murders of thousands of Muslims occurred under the administration of the then Chief Minister of the state and the current Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi. The ascertainment of the rightful ownership of this location is currently subjudice in the Supreme Court of India.

The establishment of the Ram Temple has been a favourite electioneering agenda that the
current government has repeatedly used to mobilize votes and stir anti-Muslim sentiments among Hindu masses. Consequently, Muslims in India are facing widespread violence and persecution, and yet the State remains consistently silent through this violence. In this context, we find the statements by the Kinnar Akhara appalling and dangerous, and as members of the trans and genderdiverse communities in India we strongly condemn these statements.

Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a dominant-caste brahmin trans woman, has been appealing to Hindutva ideology and justifying the existence of the caste system in India ever since she began aspiring for a political position within the current ruling party. Her position negates the politics of communal harmony that is espoused by Hijras and Kinnars, who have historically maintained a syncretic faith of belonging to both Hinduism and Islam. Laxmi Narayan Tripathi’s position idealises a mythical past of the Sanatan Dharam and supports the right-wing politics of communal hatred in the guise of ‘we were always accepted’.
It should be noted that while Tripathi’s position ostensibly seeks harmony between the realms of faith and gender/sexuality, in actuality, it is aligned with Hindutva and derives explicit inspiration from Nazi ideology. Such a stance is likely to deepen existing hierarchies of trans persons in 2 dangerous ways, especially alienating minority-religious and atheist, gender expressions and identities.

Instead of challenging the very source of structural discrimination within patriarchy, such
attempts to seek legitimization of the third gender along religious lines, is nothing less than gross competitive politics. Furthermore, several transgender people are already experiencing marginalization from the imposition of a religiously rooted third-gender identity in state policy upon all the various binary and non-binary identities under the transgender umbrella, even though the NALSA vs. Union of India (2014) judgment clearly states that people have equal rights and freedoms to choose their own identity irrespective of religious or physiological factors.

This same communal politics has been at work in the way the Hindutva-oriented State
criminalized the multi-religious system of joint living and traditional system of begging practiced by the Hijra community in its Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016. The Bill’s proposed screening of trans bodies and its declaration that rape and assault of trans bodies would be more lightly punished than sexual assaults upon cisgender women, was a move in the spirit of the same Manuvadi patriarchy that creates a hierarchy of legal measures which depend on the social locations of the victims and perpetrators. The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 adds even greater punitive measures for the system of organized begging and even punishes trans people who might help one another access medical transition. The bills, along with Kinnar Akhara’s statement, will deepen divisions and increase oppression for most transgender persons while also damaging the secular fabric of Hijra and transgender communities.
We also want to alert International agencies that have stood by the cause of LGBTIQ lives the world over: The United Nations [UN], Human Rights Watch [HRW], International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission [IGLHRC], International Lesbian and Gay Association [ILGA], Amnesty International, ARC International, Transgender Europe [TGEU], American Jewish World Service [AJWS], Asia Pacific Transgender Network [APTN], International Commission of Jurists [ICJ] and Global Action for Trans Equality [GATE]. If, you have either supported Laxmi Narayan Tripathi in the past or stand by her now, it’s time to increase your awareness of the implications of her statement and its implicit call to communal hatred. Such a stance has no place amongst agencies defending human rights. We call upon you to strongly condemn such voices.

Any government is a representative of its citizens. It is shocking to see that the current
government has exercised no democratic methods to seek consultation and representation with the trans and gender-diverse communities of this country to inform its institutional responses & policies.

This is evidenced by the government’s singular approach of consulting Laxmi Narayan Tripathi and trans persons from within the religious fold for the ongoing LGBTIQ related bills, the formation of an LGBT-related group within the National Human Rights Commission [NHRC], and so on. We emphatically contest this assumption of representation and declare that she and other trans persons representing religious bodies do not represent the vast array of trans & gender-diverse communities of India. This collective will resist the saffronisation of trans and intersex spaces. We unequivocally condemn such communal sentiments and continue to rest our faith in the Constitutional principle of
the separation of state and religion.

Endorsements are still being accepted until 11 pm, 30th November, 2018. Please send your endorsements to [email protected] in the format Name, Gender Identity/Expression (optional), Organisational Affiliation (optional), Location and indicate which of the following signatory lists you would like to be listed in.