On Monday, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of Maharashtra formed an LGBTQ cell within the party framework, setting up an independent wing to work on the LGBTQ issues, becoming the first political party in the country to do so.
Announcing this, Supriya Sule, Lok Sabha MP, said, “We must eliminate the prejudice that we have towards the queer community and be more inclusive towards alternative gender identities and gender expression. Work needs to be done for making a more inclusive society free from prejudice, homophobia and transphobia.”
Ms Sule said that NCP is the only party to talk of liberal values and equality in its speeches and practice it in real life. “It was our party president Sharad Pawar who first implemented women’s reservation as chief minister of Maharashtra. We were the first to form a special wing for young women and will now this new cell is an attempt to cover the LGBTQ community, under a political party,” she added.
Priya Patil, who was appointed as president of the LGBTQ cell, said the formation of this cell as a branch under a political party is a significant step in the fight to claim equal rights. “We will be raising our voices for the welfare and betterment of the community and work to ensure equal rights for them,” she said.
Ms Sule added that the State’s Social Justice Department has also set up an LGBTQ welfare board. “I am happy to say that the board and our party will work towards solving financial, social or emotional issues faced by the community,” she said. The party’s State unit president and Irrigation minister Jayant Patil said that members of the LGBTQ community are trying to become part of the society and should be extended equal treatment. “Our party had made a promise in its election manifesto and has taken a step forward to fulfil it,” he said.