It’s June and we are in that time of the year when the LGBTQ community in particular, and human diversity at large, is celebrated all over the world. June is the Pride Month and this is the time when this long marginalised community residing in different parts of the world comes out together to cities for their pride parades, joined by their allies and all humans in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ cause.
The Pride Month is celebrated every year in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots which happened in June 28, 1969 in New York City’s Greenwich Village. What had started as a fight back by a group of bar patrons, including gay men and drag queens, against police raid in Stonewall Inn, was followed by the first major demonstrations for gay rights in America. Today, there are marches, concerts and celebratory events to commemorate that movement and bring LGBTQ people together to give them the opportunity to have the time of their lives.
As much as the Pride Month is about having great fun and soaking in the spirit of diversity, it is also an important time to highlight the important issues pertaining to the community and their rights. In India, the Pride Month this year is special as it comes after the landmark verdict of the Supreme Court decriminalising homosexuality. Revoking the archaic Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) banning homosexuality is however, only the first step in making the requisite laws and social changes in giving the LGBTQ+ community their rightful status of equality in society.
Recognising this, The Keshav Suri Foundation has announced a scholarship for transgender students worth INR 75,000 to study at The LaLiT Suri Hospitality School. The initiative is being taken with the aim of empowering members of the community through education and skilling so that they can join the mainstream with confidence.
Stressing on the importance of this, Keshav Suri, Executive Director of The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, and founder of The Keshav Suri Foundation, said,
“Education is a basic right and also a tool that helps one lead a life of dignity. We are launching the scholarship to enable the community earn a respectful livelihood and remove prevalent phobia in the society.”
Keshav Suri was one of those lgbtq activists who fought the long and determined battle for the community’s rights and filed a writ petition to the apex court appealing for the dismantlement of Section 377 in India. The Suri Foundation’s scholarship will be awarded to five deserving candidates and cover the entire tuition fees for a one-and-a-half-year diploma program in Food Production and Bakery.
As part of its affirmative action, the group is also organising a pan-India drive where its team will visit the gharanas/ kothis where trans-genders live and work as well as the CBOs/NGOs working for trans-gender people’s empowerment to connect with them, spread HIV awareness and let them know about various initiatives for their empowerment including scholarship for transgender education at The LaLiT Suri Hospitality School and skill enhancement course at The LaLiT Suri Hospitality Group.
In order to create safe work space and sensitise its workforce, sensitisation sessions have been also been organised by drag queens and trans activists including trans-woman and acid attack survivor Sonia, Drag Artist Betta Naan Stop and LGBTQ+ activist Bismaya across The Lalit Group of Hotels, Palaces and Resorts to highlight the issues of Inclusion & Diversity and raise HIV Awareness Campaign.
The Keshav Suri Foundation and The LaLiT Suri Hospitality Group are also the title partner for Kashish Queer film Festival which is going to be held between June 12 and 16 in Mumbai this year. The film festival is going to screen gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer films from India and the world. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall protests on June 28, 2019, there will be screening of Queer movies and documentaries followed by Sundowner pool party and Trans Empowerment Night at Kitty Su across The LaLiT properties in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chandigarh.
The ethos and spirit of this festival and all initiatives steered by The Keshav Suri Foundation and The LaLiT Suri Hospitality Group are driven by the motto of embracing, empowering and mainstreaming a community which has fought long and hard for its pride of place in society.