Mizoram’s most powerful civil society organisation — the Young Mizo Association (YMA) — has forced the state government to cancel plans for constructing a shelter home for the LGBTQI community in the outskirts of state capital Mizoram.
Top YMA functionaries who met state Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Monday (12 December) to oppose the construction of the shelter said it (the shelter) “is not safe and unacceptable to Mizo society as of now”.
The state government promptly announced cancellation of the tender that has been invited for constructing the shelter on Tuesday (13 December).
The LGBTQI community in the state is “shocked and devastated”. Community activists told Swarajya from Aizawl that it is actually the conservative Christian Church which is opposed to the project.
Mizoram is an overwhelmingly Christian-majority state, and the Church wields a lot of influence on society, public policy and politics.
Christians form a little over 87 per cent of the state’s population and most of them belong to the which is considered to be doctrinaire and very conservative.
The shelter home for the LGBTQI community was to have come up at Sakawrtuichhun, in the outskirts of Aizawl, from funds received from the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
The state’s Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation (UD&PA) department which was to have executed the project had issued a tender inviting bids for construction of the shelter home earlier this month.
UD&PA director H Liazela had said that the construction of the shelter home was mandated by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The NHRC had, in July 2021, asked all states to construct shelter homes for members of the LGBTQI community.
Liazela said that the shelter home was to have been constructed under the National Urban Livelihoods Mission and Rs 40 lakh had been sanctioned for the project.
Office-bearers of the YMA’s central committee who met the Chief Minister Monday (12 December) were assured by the latter that the project would be cancelled.
“We requested the Chief Minister to cancel the project as setting up a shelter home for the LGBTQI community is unsafe and not acceptable for Mizo society as of now,” YMA president R Lalgheta told the media.
LGBTQI activists said that the conservative and all-powerful Christian Church in Mizoram is responsible for cancellation of the project.
“The Church is very conservative and is homophobic. The Church has always opposed the LGBTQI community,” said an activist who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals from Church leaders.
Mizoram, which often calls itself a Christian state, has many radical and conservative Christian groups who often demand that the state government function as per “Christian values and doctrines”.
For instance, in June 2018, Christian groups in the state had vehemently opposed the appointment of senior Kerala BJP leader Kummanam Rajasekharan as the Governor of the state on the ground that he was a Hindu.
Rajasekharan’s close association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) were cited to label him a ‘radical Hindu’.
A Church-backed political party — People’s Representation for Identity & Status of Mizoram (PRISM) — and the Global Council of Indian Christians had led the movement that time for cancellation of Rajasekharan’s appointment on the grounds that a Hindu activist should not be appointed Governor of a ‘Christian state’ (read ).
In early 2019, Church-backed groups had demanded expulsion of and (most of them Buddhists) from the ‘Christian state’ of Mizoram (read ).
Demonstrations demanding expulsion of the Buddhists turned anti-India, with many displaying seditious placards and mouthing anti-India slogans.
Mizoram has also been opposing, and not participating in, International Yoga Day celebrations because of strong opposition by Church groups which hold that yoga is “not compatible with Christian beliefs” (read ).
It is no wonder then that Mizoram, where the deeply conservative Church is all-powerful, has cancelled a shelter home for members of the LGBTQI community. Large sections of the Christian Church oppose homosexuality or alternate sexuality and view it as ‘deviant’ and ‘anti-Christ’.
But few outside Mizoram ever get to know about the powerful Church and Church-backed groups in the state, and the stranglehold that such groups have over the state’s society and polity.
Many actions, such as the ones cited above, of these Church-backed groups are radical, fundamentalist and non-secular.
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