The US Consulate General’s five-day workshop to mark Human Rights Day ended on Sunday in Kolkata. The workshop was designed by US-based non-profit StoryCenter and the Theatre Alliance, in partnership with the US State Department alumni, at the American Center, Kolkata. Human Rights Day is observed on December 10 every year.
The event titled ‘Inclusion and Diversity: Are We Doing Enough?’ marked the culmination of the workshop that brought together 10 LGBTQI activists and participants from the USA, West Bengal, the Northeastern states, including Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Tripura, to share their stories and express themselves through short videos and podcasts.
During the event, participants presented their personal stories through videos and podcasts. This was followed by a moderated conversation on how to create space where the LGBTQI community members could be accommodated, accepted and supported by strengthening the existing networks and developing new allies and partners.
Narrating her tale, Julie Saha, a trans-identified person and a micro-entrepreneur, a social worker and a trained singer from West Bengal, said she had faced a lot of identity problems initially while she ran a tea stall. “However, with time, I earned love and respect from the locals and started gathering trans-identified persons at the shop which grew into a space for solidarity, friendship and love,” she said.
Sawang Wangcha, founder of AP Queer Station, is an artist and a queer activist who started the first LGBTQIA rights collective in Arunachal Pradesh. He has initiated several discussions on queer rights and advocated for the rights and inclusion of trans-identified individuals to help them find safe space in the state’s women-only shelter.
“The United States will continue to stand up proudly for the human rights of all. Just as you will always find an ally in us, we will continue to find allies and partners committed to strengthening the circle of belonging. Protecting universal human rights is at the heart of our diplomacy, and we remain committed to advancing human rights for all, including LGBTQI individuals,” US consul-general Melinda Pavek said.