Indian Equal Rights activist Harish Iyer on Tuesday, 9 April, joined the Congress party in Mumbai. Speaking to The Quint, Iyer said that he had been intending to join the party for a while and on Tuesday, he had visited the Congress office and signed the documents.
He also announced the development on Twitter, saying that he looked forward to “weeding out homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia and the politics of hate”.
I have officially joined the @INCIndia and look forward to working with the Mumbai Congress team in weeding out homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia and the politics of hate. pic.twitter.com/G0wJYEJL1w— harish iyer (@hiyer) April 9, 2019
“It is important to be a part of the system that makes the rules, rather than waiting for change. One needs to be the change and to participate in the change-making process,” he told The Quint, about his decision to enter politics.
He also emphasised on the need for all queer people to join politics. “All queer people need to join politics or they should be ready to be governed by people who are not us. People need to assert their rights,” he said.
He further explained his decision on Twitter, writing that one cannot afford to sit on the fence. “I know politics is seen as a dirty game. I know there are enough people who give it a bad name. But queer people need to get into politics. Because, otherwise, we will always have (seemingly) straight and cis gendered men taking all our life decisions,” his tweet read.
About his decision to join the Congress, he told The Quint that people needed to stand up for whatever party they support and believe in. People can even join the BJP if they so feel, he added.
“I am the first openly gay man to join the Congress,” he said.
Adding further, he tweeted that in Rahul Gandhi, he had found a party leader who was providing unwavering support to not just the LGBTQ community but also other minorities “whose lives stand affected because of the intersections”.
“I don't merely support the Congress. I am Congress,” he tweeted.
Speaking about his objectives after joining the Congress, he said that he hoped that eventually, a body similar to the All India Mahila Congress, but for queer people, would be formed.
“I hope to see the formation of an All India Queer Congress, a body that will play a part in getting queer people their rights, similar to LGBTQ caucus in the American senate,” he told The Quint.
Many congratulated Iyer on his entry to politics. Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora, who was away campaigning in Mulund, tweeted that he looked forward to their association.
Congratulations @hiyer and congrats to India's LGBTQ community for this wonderful first. The @INCIndia & @RahulGandhi have walked the talk by bringing gay rights activist Harish Iyer into the party fold. To have an LGBTQ representative in the govt is a dream that could come true. https://t.co/M4ri3tNACl— Apurva (@Apurvasrani) April 9, 2019
All India Professional Congress Secretary Szarita Laitphlang also welcomed Iyer to the party.
.@hiyer moved the SC in 377 case with an impleadment application. An active voice for Gender Rights.The first gay man to join active politics & happy that he chose @INCIndia— Szarita Laitphlang (ज़रिता लैतफलांग) زریتا لیتفلانگ (@szarita) April 9, 2019
Welcome to the family my dear friend.His inclusion in active politics will help us frame inclusive laws. pic.twitter.com/y25a1NcZV7
The All India Mahila Congress tweeted, saying “Let’s paint the world with colours of inclusivity.”
This is not Iyer’s first time in politics. In 2014, he had joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) but had found Section 377 missing from their agenda. In light of this, he told The Quint that though he had joined the Congress, he maintained cordial relations with AAP, adding that he was on good terms with its National Convenor, Preeti Sharma as wel.
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