Neha Lalchandani,TNN | Apr 6, 2014, 04.38 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community’s honeymoon with AAP came to an abrupt end after the party released its manifesto on April 4. Not only has AAP’s stand on Section 377 not been mentioned, but the very definition of gender given by AAP, including only women, has been criticized by the community.

The first fallout of the omission of LGBT issues from the party’s manifesto was the resignation of filmmaker Onir, a gender rights activist. Onir, along with three AAP members, had been on a panel to discuss Sec 377 and inclusion of gender issues with a section of the LGBT community in Delhi last month. He, along with several others, has now refused to attend an interaction with AAP in Mumbai on Sunday to discuss LGBT issues, calling it a “waste of time”. Having been officially told that the AAP did not by mistake omit LGBT issue from its manifesto, I withdraw my support to the party. True intentions have to manifest in action and not just oratory. The LGBT community has been let down by AAP,”  Onir tweetede tweeted.

Myna Mukherjee, director of Engendered, an arts and human rights organization which hosted the discussion, said the entire community was feeling let down. “We had some hope from AAP since they at least agreed to discuss the issues of the LGBT community. However, if members who sound sane cannot stand up for us in the first instance that needs a push, how can we expect them to take up our issues with the courts and the government?” said Mukherjee.

“It is ironical that even Congress has this in its manifesto whereas AAP, which comes across as a more progressive party, does not. Even the definition of gender is so narrow. In their draft manifesto, gender included male and female. The main document has omitted male. Even the Government of India includes ‘others’ when defining gender. We cannot imagine what the party was so worried about,” she added.

Manish Sharma, a social activist commented: “I’m extremely disappointed that AAP chose to refuse inclusion of LGBT rights and decriminalizing Sec 377 in its manifesto. I withdraw my support to the party, but on the other hand I’m glad at least CPM and Congress dared to do it on papers.”

AAP’s defence is that while its stand on Sec 377 is clear — the party believes in the rights of each individual — several such issues did not make it to the manifesto, including their stand on nuclear power and gas pricing. However, AAP’s formal stand that it will “push for and support the reversal of the SC judgment. It is a given and non-negotiable. We will continue to fight and fight relentlessly for it”, is not cutting any ice with the community.

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