A Short History Of Workplace Inclusion of LGBTQ+ In India

Do you want to understand how laws and policies affect social issues? Here is a short history of Workplace Inclusion of LGBTQIA+ in India!

Do you want to understand how laws and policies affect social issues? Here is a short history of Workplace Inclusion of LGBTQIA+ in India!

26% of Indian companies and 70% of MNCs responding to the Randstad Inclusion Without Exception Study 2021, agreed to have explicit policies for LGBTQIA+ inclusion in their organizations.

But do you know how this journey towards inclusion began and the obstacles that were overcome along the way?

Godrej took the first step

Godrej has been at the forefront among companies in India, for nearly two decades, they have done advocation and intensified their efforts for inclusivity.

In his book Queeristan, Parmesh Shahani, Vice President of Godrej Industries, explains how Godrej as a company took inclusion seriously by launching the Godrej India Cultural Lab in Mumbai. The book highlights how standing up for the cause of LGBTQIA and DEI aligns with the need to make profits and building a humanitarian company.

A Short History Of Workplace Inclusion of LGBTQ+ In India

How decriminalization affected the workplace?

In 2009, the Delhi High Court decriminalized consensual same-sex relationships between adults, overturning Section 377.

Which was eventually reverted in 2013, but prior to this reverting, the five-year time period of decriminalization had brought the focus on LGBTQIA issues! Which indirectly spread the awareness in companies and organisations that among many of their employees, a considerable number belonged to the LGBTQIA community!

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A Short History Of Workplace Inclusion of LGBTQ+ In India

This decision was a major milestone in the Indian corporate world, as they responded by bringing in new HR policies to address various lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues under the rubric of diversity and inclusion.

The issue of Transgender People’s working rights

In 2014, the Supreme Court of India recognized transgender people as a “third gender” and affirmed their constitutional rights. This decision aimed to promote inclusivity and improve opportunities for transgender individuals in education, employment, and healthcare.

The Transgender Rights Act, which was passed in 2019, incorporated measures against workplace discrimination and calls for the establishment of welfare boards to promote transgender rights. But the bill was met with backlash from all over the country for having rigid perimeters.

2018, finally saw a renewed awareness of workplace inclusivity

In a landmark decision in 2018, the Supreme Court of India overturned Section 377, decriminalizing consenting same-sex relationships across the country. This decision strengthened and brought visibility to the cause of LGBTQ+ rights, particularly those in the workplace.

The rights of a queer person are not different or special from a cis-het person. But more than often, when laws favour the majority, the minority suffers due to lack of understanding and awareness.

Post 2018, many companies in the country have opened their HR and CSR spaces, update workplace policies and rules to accommodate and understand the issues of LGBTQIA.

Small, steady steps of inclusion are required for the future!

According to Randstad’s Inclusion Without Exception Study, 2021, 9% of surveyed organizations feel that ‘significant’ efforts have been made for LGBTQ+ inclusion in India Inc. Of this, 69% work in MNCs.

  • 40% of respondents who said there are no such policies, 53% of this were from Indian organizations.
  • 70% of the respondents from MNCs & 26% from Indian companies agreed to have specific policies for LGBTQ+ inclusion.

This highlights the profound impact of fostering an inclusive and supportive work environment. Despite this, LGBTQ community still face discrimination at work/in society at large

Companies can step above and beyond to show their unshakable support for LGBTQ employees by creating strong anti-harassment rules and cultivating an inclusive culture through comprehensive awareness training programmes.


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Do you have a work-place story as rainbow sheep? Let us know! 

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