Queer Azaadi and the origins of Indian homonationalism in Kashmir

In 2019, the Indian government unilaterally revoked the autonomy of the disputed region of Kashmir amidst one of the harshest and longest military blockades and communications blackouts in history of the region. While the move was primarily justified as a national security imperative that would also bring economic prosperity to Kashmir, one of the tertiary arguments that was put forth in support of the move was a celebration of the revocation of autonomy as a victory for LGBTQ+ rights.

How did a right-wing Hindu nationalist government, which had – less than a decade ago – vociferously opposed LGBTQ+ rights, suddenly adopt such progressive rhetoric? Was there any truth to the government’s claims or was it yet another form of “pinkwashing” intended for an international audience? And what does the adoption of LGBTQ+ rights language by the Indian government in Kashmir mean for the broader future of LGBTQ+ rights in India?

Anish Gawande is a writer and a translator. He is the Director of the Dara Shikoh Fellowship in India and the Curator of Pink List India, the country’s first archive of politicians supporting LGBTQIA+ rights. Anish Gawande graduated with a degree in Comparative Literature and Society from Columbia University and is currently a Rhodes Scholar finishing his MPhil degree in Intellectual History at Oxford.

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