This week I talked with Pothik Chatterjee, who has organized an important panel entitled "LGBT Rights in India: The Way Forward," which takes place at Harvard University on Sunday, Feb. 16, from 4:10 to 5:10 p.m. The panel will address the recent recriminalization of homosexuality by the Supreme Court of India under Section 377. The panel will focus on how this anti-gay law will affect the lives of the LGBT community in India and how to channel this setback into productive policy and effective strategy. It's all part of the Harvard India Conference 2014, which takes place Feb. 15 and 16 around the theme "Turning the Page: Prospects and Paradoxes."
I talked to Pothik about the panel discussion and his spin on LGBT issues. When asked about his personal commitment to LGBT civil rights, he stated:
My personal commitment to LGBT civil rights began when I was an undergraduate at Georgetown University, which you might know is a Catholic/Jesuit university. While I was an undergraduate I was part of the student movement to establish an LGBT resource center on our campus to help undergraduate students with coming out to their family and friends, being out on campus, and deal with bullying and some harassment that was taking place on campus. We faced a lot of opposition initially because of the Jesuit administration and fears about how the alumni would react, but ultimately we were successful, and Georgetown has an LGBTQ student center, and so that was a great victory. Since then I have marched with the Human Rights Campaign at Washington, D.C.'s Pride, and before that I used to live in Toronto, Canada, where I volunteered for the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention, and I helped facilitate a queer support group called DOSTI for South Asian gay men, and many of them were recent immigrates, so they were new to Canada and new to North America. It was a great experience, and I continue that LGBT activism here at Harvard with my involvement with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender student alliance, and I think it's a good time to be at Harvard Business School, where people have a more open mindset and people are more willing to talk about being gay and being out and open in the context of business in the professional world. So it's quite an exciting time.
Pothik Chatterjee is currently finishing his MBA at Harvard Business School and will graduate in May 2014. Speakers for the "LGBT Rights in India: The Way Forward" panel will include Ashok Row Kavi, Mesma Belsare, Apphia Kumar, Amit Dixit, Ramakrishnan Kazhiyur-Mannar, Siddharth Narrain and Jonathan Ripley.
For more information on the "LGBT Rights in India: The Way Forward" panel at the Harvard India Conference, click here.
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