A cishet person does not have to think twice about their gender or sexuality when applying for jobs. The same cannot be said for the LGBTQ+ Community, who still struggle for better livelihoods in today’s world.
People from the queer community were typecast as fitting some occupations and not others.
Especially in formal institutions, stigmatisation and even physical violence against people persists.
Such barbaric acts need to be in the past for a modern society that strives to be inclusive and progressive.
To achieve equality of opportunity & protection of the LGBTQ+ as a minority calls for attention and the revision of rights and work etiquette.
Workplace discrimination due to ‘Heteronormativity.’
There are preconceptions of how women and men are expected to look and behave in the labour force.
This takes roots in the social belief of heteronormativity, the idea that heterosexuality is the “normal”.
Any behaviour or appearance that deviates from their notion of normal is received as questionable and undesirable.
Often, effeminate men or women who appear masculine tend to be discriminated against, regardless of their sexuality.
Those who fall outside the purview of these socially constructed ideals of “masculinity” and “feminity” are viewed less. Some employers even outright reject talented minds based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Transgender people especially experience hate and workplace abuse because they do not fit into the binary paradigm of male and female.
Their behaviours, attire, speech intonation, and other character expressions are seen as provocative or abnormal, which often blocks them from climbing the social ladder.
While such experiences of LBTQ+ discrimination varies, there is a consensus that marginalisation of the community permeates workplaces.
The Legal Framework
India lacks a specific set of laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
However, the Supreme Court has been progressing in terms of protecting the queer community and their rights.
In 2014, the Indian Supreme Court recognised transgender people as “third gender” under the Indian Constitution.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 (Transgender Act) passed by the Indian Parliament protects transgender people against unfair treatment, including termination of employment based on gender identity.
The Supreme Court also ruled that a person’s sexual orientation is protected by the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
However, legal protection alone does not stop discrimination. The reality is that queer people continue to suffer the brunt of workplace homophobia and hostility.
This often leads to withdrawal from co-workers, forced conformity to norms and living double lives for their safety.
Awareness of workplace diversity and education of sexual and gender identities must go hand in hand with legal reforms.
It is high time to revise and annul discriminative laws and emphasise the advocacy frameworks of the queer community.
Through the effective social dialogue of the government and society, inclusion issues can be addressed.
A Work in Progress
Despite the prejudice that still exists, more doors have opened up for the queer community in India.
Many Indian companies are expanding their recruitment of LGBTQ+ employees. Groups like Mahindra and Godrej have pushed for the greater inclusion of people.
These groups have made policy changes to benefit the community, such as medical insurance coverage, bereavement leaves for same-sex partners, and counselling services.
Acknowledgement and acceptance of LGTBTQ+ people is still a work in progress.
We cannot change the intolerant attitude of employers and co-workers against people overnight.
However, we must raise awareness against the severity of this kind of stigma.
Workplace discrimination against marginalised people blocks diversity and innovation.
It creates psychological stress, trauma and induces fear of being who they are.
Like everybody else, people from the LGBTQ+ community have dreams and aspirations, things they want to do and places they want to go.
The rejection from employers or even a snide comment by a co-worker could crush these dreams and box them into a dark corner.
While it is crucial to uplift the community with the hope that they can be free to live their authentic selves, it makes a change to advocate for their rights and be the voice they need.