Shakthi Nataraj, an anthropology PhD student who grew up in Chennai has been awarded the Philip Brett LGBT Studies Fellowship, scholarship from the California University in Berkley, to study how political issues brought new notions of sexual identity in India.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Fellowship will help Nataraj study how political tensions brought new notions of sexual identity in Tamil Nadu. Nataraj has spent time around nonprofits that focused on HIV and gender issues and as she grew older she reconnected with the LGBT community in India.
Indian members of the LGBT communities, Nataraj says, are paradoxically hailed as both rights-bearing consumers and atavistic criminals.
In 2013 India’s Supreme Court re-introduced a colonial era law criminalising homosexual intercourse, then months later issued a judgment affirming transgender identity and rights.