I've gone to courtrooms multiple times with my nails painted flaming red.

Rohin is a non-binary queer individual who practices law in the Supreme Court of India. Among the array of human rights violation cases they handle, their involvement in the battle for marriage equality for same-sex couples stands out. This case is undeniably significant, but what truly sets Rohin apart is their unique position in this legal crusade – addressing queer issues as a queer lawyer.

Rohin's journey is deeply intertwined with their personal experiences of discrimination, which have significantly influenced their approach to the law and the judicial process. They bring to the table a distinctive lens, one finely tuned by their personal journey. This connection between identity and advocacy is more than mere symbolism; it's paramount.  It's like the difference between an autistic doctor guiding and understanding autistic children, as opposed to professionals who lack lived experience with the condition. It underscores the imperative for genuine representation in matters directly impacting marginalized communities.

Queer liberation will never be achieved through litigation.

When we probed Rohin about the legal system's role in the lives of queer individuals, they didn't hand us a straightforward answer. Instead, they did what lawyers are trained to do – engage critically and present coherently.

Rohin, with candor, unfolds the narrative of both sides of the legal coin:

In the realm of landmark judgments like Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, we witnessed the decriminalization of homosexuality. It marked a significant stride towards scrubbing away the archaic views our legal landscape inherited from our colonizers. These victories are crucial because they reaffirm that the law can still be a vehicle for securing fundamental rights. They serve as small glimmers of hope in a sometimes bleak landscape. But let's not kid ourselves; the bar isn't set very high. Especially when we see the very same legal apparatus, often in cahoots with unchecked police brutality, wielded as weapons by queerphobic forces to perpetrate atrocities. False kidnapping complaints, honor killings, corrective rapes, and conversion therapy assaults – it's a grim reminder of the law's dual nature.

So, is the law a force for good or a tool of oppression? Is it an instrument of change or an apparatus of subjugation?

"Social revolutions," Rohin takes a moment before continuing, "rarely unfold solely within legal frameworks." While they wholeheartedly acknowledge the harm the legal system, in practice, can inflict upon queer lives, Rohin maintains their position – “we must engage with the law critically.” For Rohin, it's abundantly clear that the social revolution toward freedom requires an interconnected thread of solidarity. However, they firmly assert that we cannot sideline the law, especially when it is actively weaponized against us.

It would be a half-hearted attempt to understand the intersection of queer lives and law, without talking about the scary political fascist reality that India is witnessing.

It's difficult to think about queer rights in silos compared to what's happening around the country.

They are quick to back this up with ample examples:

The violence and suppression of dissenting voices in Manipur are not isolated incidents but symptoms of a larger issue: the erosion of democratic values and human rights in India. Queer individuals in Manipur find themselves caught in the crossfire, facing both state-sponsored oppression and societal discrimination.

Similarly, the shift in reservation policies, particularly the 103rd constitutional amendment's focus on economic status over social oppression, is also closely tied to the queer movement. This shift has a direct impact on the struggles faced by trans and dalit individuals, who often intersect with the queer community.

This is all to say that we are not at one point of identity but rather exist on the axis of identities. So, looking at queer issues in a vacuum is not only inaccurate but rather ineffective, especially given our current political reality.  Rohin urges us to recognize the power of solidarity as an antidote to the creeping forces of fascism.  By acknowledging our shared struggle and forging connections with other social justice movements, they believe we can create a united front better equipped to withstand the encroachment of fascism.

Darling, you wouldn't be here without the politics of the queer movement.

Drawing from their deep well of experiences, Rohin brings forth the gritty truth that often gets overshadowed. Within the queer movement, a certain fixation persists on upper-caste, upper-class queer perspectives, marginalizing the experiences of those who straddle queerness and lower-caste identities. It's a glaring issue that demands attention.

Transphobia, too, lingers within the movement, perpetuated by a narrow legal-centric approach. Rohin draws our gaze to this issue, making us realize that the legal battles we celebrate in courts often fail to address the real, everyday struggles of the transgender community.

Yet, Rohin isn't one to merely critique. They commend those who navigate the movement with a political and intersectional lens, figures like Grace Banu and Vyjayanti Mogli. These individuals shoulder the burden of intersectional conversations, often at personal peril, and deserve recognition.

For the rest of us who may not face caste or trans marginalization, they suggest a few things:  a collective acknowledgment of the movement's caste bias, an awakening to the importance of intersectionality, and a reminder that queerness is inherently political. They dispel any notion of depoliticizing the movement, reminding us that it is through the political struggle that progress is made.

As our conversation came to an end, we could not help but notice the value of individuals like Rohin. In a world that often seems mired in the past, their presence is a reminder that hope and resilience are very much alive. They embody Marsha P. Johnson's timeless words: No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.

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