Obama answers Akkai Padmashali’s question on how to fight 377 “What you just did.”

Akkai Padmashal

Akkai Padmashali

Transgender activist Akkai Padmashali was selected to ask Barrack Obama a question on behalf of India’s LGBT community about reversing section 377 at the New Delhi town hall December 1st.

“I’m a criminal before the section 377 which criminalizes because you are a transgender lesbian gay bisexual and how do I raise my voice against this?” asked Akkai Padmashali.

Akkai PadmashaliPadmashali earned considerable notoriety and admiration for boldly using the 2015 Supreme Court ruling partially legitimizing transgender people as a “third gender” as a platform to speak out against India’s oppression of the gay community. Akkai Padmashali along with two other trans people became the first from the trans community to file a writ challenging the Supreme Court ruling reinstating Section 377 which effectively criminalized same-sex relationships.

“The two things I want to bring one is the question one is a request,” said Padmashali

“The question is when the state terror is against minorities we the transgender community, a sexual minority, a class caste religious race minority. When you are been stigmatized you have been discriminated against because of those reasons and the patriarchal notions about poverties dominating against you and I want to take my strong objection to it.”

I’m a criminal before the section 377 which criminalizes because you are a transgender lesbian gay bisexual and how do I raise my voice against this? The second thing is about the transgender protection rights bill where the government is not in a consultative democratic transparent way of discussing what exactly the community wants and not the government wants if that so on how do I raise my voice how do I fight against it? That is my question to you how do I resolve the world crisis I think across the world we are sexual minorities as transgender facing social dejection know like negligent of an attitude we are seeking for love affection acceptance that is my question to you how do I deal with that?

“My request,” asked Akkai, “Can I hug you?”

Barrack, Akkai exchange, a memorable moment.

Barrack answered her question affirmatively saying “What you just did. To find your voice and to articulate your views and your experiences and tell your story.”

“And that’s true of any group that’s marginalized and stigmatized.” Obama continued. “Finding that voice and being able to tell a story so that the perceptions that somehow you are different are broken down because people start recognizing their own experiences in you. They see your humanity.

Barrack also indicated that if he hugged at that moment the town hall would have turned into a town hug but would be happy to do afterward.

The Obama Foundation hosts a Town Hall in New Delhi, India with President Barack Obama and hundreds of young Indian leaders from across the country. The Town Hall continues the conversation about what it means to be an active citizen and make an impact — and how the Obama Foundation can support emerging leaders in this effort.

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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


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