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Kolkata's American Center hosts conclave to promote social acceptance, inclusion, and employment opportunities for LGBTQIA+ individuals

Kolkata's American Center hosts conclave to promote social acceptance, inclusion, and employment opportunities for LGBTQIA+ individuals

| @indiablooms | 21 Jan 2024, 07:24 pm

The U.S. Consulate General Kolkata hosted “Voices of Diversity – Action for Inclusion” conclave under the “Rainbow Dialogues – All in this Together” project in partnership with U.S. based non-profit StoryCenter at the American Center in Kolkata recently.

The project was implemented in collaboration with local non-profits Prodigal's Home and BRIDGE. 

The event marked the culmination of a five-day immersive storytelling workshop at the American Center Kolkata, that brought together ten LGBTQIA+ activists-participants from Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, Jharkhand, and West Bengal to share their personal stories and express their voices through short videos.

Addressing the gathering American Center Director Elizabeth Lee said, “Building support for and protecting universal human rights is at the very heart of our diplomacy, and we remain committed to advancing human rights for all, with a special focus on LGBTQI+ individuals. Since 2018,our Rainbow Dialogues project has provided a safe space for LGBTQI+ community members to discuss issues related to inclusive society, generating employment, and helping build a strong alliance across South Asia for LGBTQIA+ peoples. Dovetailing on a strong U.S. support, this conclave seeks to empower LGBTQI+ individuals who are advocates for inclusive educational and training opportunities as well as safe public spaces.”

She added, “It is really heartening today that our gathering brought together both LGBTQI+ representatives and allies.  Being an ally is a choice.  It is about choosing to stand up for the basic human rights visibly and vocally, call out bias and unacceptable behavior, and use your voice to effect change.”

The conclave- initiated conversations towards social acceptance, inclusion, and employment opportunities for LGBTIQA+ individuals through evidence-based dialogues, storytelling and network-building. It is the first state-level advocacy conclave under the ‘Rainbow Dialogues: All in this Together’ project, which is being implemented in seven East and Northeast Indian states: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Manipur, Nagaland, Odhisa, and West Bengal. The conclave will share findings and insights from the perception survey of 1000+ respondents from the LGBTQ+ community and 200+ from employers, educators, and service providers, across the seven states.

The conclave was an advocacy event which was a culmination of a week-long (January 10-15, 2024) immersive storytelling workshop, jointly facilitated by Amy Hill, Silence Speaks Director, StoryCenter, U.S.A., and Raymond Caldwell, Producing Artistic Director, Theater Alliance, U.S.A., that witnessed participation from LGBTQ+ identified individuals from all the seven states.  During the event today, Amy Hill introduced the project objectives.

Some participants presented their personal powerful stories through videos, and digital stories, and it was followed by an interactive panel on "What are we doing for inclusion in our own spaces". 

The panel was designed based on the survey findings that showed that these four areas - home, education space, workspace, and public/popular media, are the most important spaces that the LGBTQ+ individuals felt as key spaces where advocacy for inclusion are needed, and crucial for a life of dignity and safety.  There was also a presentation on 'Evidence from seven project states' by Prithviraj Nath, Director, BRIDGE India.

Amy Hill said, "At a time when trans rights in the U.S. are under fire, StoryCenter and Theater Alliance are proud to be standing in solidarity with queer and trans communities in India, supporting them in building community and sharing stories for advocacy."

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