Our Work in India
Q7 has begun work in India through a subsistence grant, Scripture study for LGBT Christians, support systems, and fellowships for LGBT Christians through its F.U.E.L. and First Friday ministries. We also have a new program to sponsor Indian LGBT Christian young people to come to the United States, shore up their faith in community with other LGBT Christians, learn advocacy, gay pride, and confidence as LGBT people, receive an education, and use these new skills to help other similarly situated people in India.
India’s Violence Toward LGBT Persons and Systematic Brutalization of Christians
LGBT People in India
India is among the most severely homophobic countries in the world. While some may point to recent judicial and legislative changes that purport to grant equal rights and protection to LGBT Indians, physical violence, murder, death, sexual assault, and rampant employment discrimination are commonplace. It is much like the American South decades after the passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments, and in American schools just after Brown v. Board of Education, in that Indian legal protections ring hollow enough to be meaningless. India’s homophobia has adapted the theme which boils down to say one thing, do the exact and violently opposite. Indian activists note that while: "[Legal rulings have] elevated the concerns of LGBT+ people but …[have] not brought about acceptance, said Simran, a trans-woman who heads the LGBT+ rights group Impulse New Delhi and only uses one name. Instead, discrimination against gay and trans people remains prevalent in the socially conservative country, she said.. (“One year after landmark ruling for LGBT+ Rights in India, challenges persist”, Reuters, September 6, 2019, by Annie Banerji) Great social and familial shame attaches to anyone who is openly LGBT, especially if you happen to be an effeminate male. The time-honored Indian tradition of severely beating your offspring for disciplinary purposes is deployed to “beat the gay” out of young people. Young people are kicked out of their homes into hostile streets that are less safe than a home with daily beatings. LGBT young people are starved, openly sexually assaulted walking down the street and on public transportation. Sometimes LGBT young people are murdered by their parents. Many young people submit to the pressure, get married, and maintain a secret unfaithfulness to their spouses." Horrifying acts are undertaken by parents: “[We see]he use of rape as a tool to correct the sexual orientation of LGBT people with the objective of getting them to toe the societal norms… Imagine your parents getting you raped to bring you on to the right path! That’s a reality that [some] homosexuals in India are facing” (“Parents use ‘corrective rape’ to ‘straighten Gays”, Times of India, June 1, 2015, by Rupam Jain) For any LGBT person stuck at home (especially those from the lower classes), being beaten by their family, sexually assaulted on the streets, starved and the like, there are no real options to escape. While a Google search will reveal some Indian organization or another that advocates for LGBT rights, they are not set up to provide resources to help Indian LGBT persons leave violent, homophobic homes, achieve independence, and remain safe. Q7 has scoured the country of India for such resources and came up empty. Likewise, the shame that attaches to a family because a family member is LGBT is so great that even Indian people who might consider taking a tortured LGBT soul in will not do so for fear of being rejected and ostracized. The same dynamics are at play in offering employment or other assistance to LGBT people.
Followers of Jesus in India
India also has the distinction of being virulently anti-Christian. In a country of 1.3 billon people, only 2.3% are Christian with 79.8% being Hindu, and 14.2% Muslim. Examples of terror inflicted in Christians abound as was reported in the New York Times in a December 22, 2021 article: “The Christians were mid-hymn when the mob kicked in the door. A swarm of men dressed in saffron poured inside. They jumped the stage and shouted Hindu supremacist slogans. They punched the pastors in the head…’they kept beating us, pulling out hair’… The police soon arrived but the officers did not touch the aggressors. Instead, they arrested and jailed the pastors and other church elders who were still dizzy from being punched in the head. The Christians were charged with breaking a newly enforced law that targets religious conversions,…[and has] prompted a surge in mob violence against Indian Christians….Anti-Christian vigilantes are sweeping through villages, storming churches, burning Christian literature, attacking schools and assaulting worshippers.” (“Arrests, Beatings and Secret Prayers: Inside the Persecution of India’s Christians”, Jeffery Gettleman and Suhasini Raj, The New York Times, December 22, 2021). If you are LGBT and Christian you live in what is essentially a war zone, possessed of constant fear for your physical safety, psychological well-being, and with no hope in the future.
Hindu Idol Worship of the Goddess Durga in Delhi
Our First openly LGBT and Christian Citizen of India to be Rescued: Aman Giri from Delhi
Aman came to the attention of Q7 in September of 2021 after he providently and miraculously became a regularly participating member of F.U.E.L. and then First Friday. His participation in Zoom fellowship is consistent despite the great time differences between India and the U.S.A., and the great challenges he faces being able to be in a space where he can openly participate as an LGBT-Christian person and be physically safe. His thirst for the Lord is palpable, admirable, and should serve as an example to all.
Aman is far from a conformist. Never convinced of the supposed greatness of the Hindu religion in which he was raised, never to able to understand the logic behind Hindu spiritual habits that involve the worship of idols of wood and stone, Aman was at a place here he yearned for truth. One day some Jehovah’s witnesses knocked on his door and asked if he wanted to hear about Jesus. He said yes and started taking Bible studies. Unfortunately, when the Witnesses figured out that he was gay, they kicked him out of the fellowship. This experience was repeated with a group of Catholics that Aman sought out to continue his quest to learn about Jesus Christ. At some point a friend told him about the Seventh Day Adventist message and he began to seek out LGBT Adventists. His searches led him to our Q7 fellowships.
Shortly after his first encounter with Q7 we began weekly (and now bi-weekly) Scriptures studies to teach Aman about Jesus and the Christian faith. Over the course of 2020-2022 Aman missed only one study. He is enthusiastic, attentive, and wants to be baptized. Something that is impossible in India.
Aman is 24 years old and has completed his undergraduate degree in English literature and a one-year course in Gender and Sexuality studies from Ambedkar University in Delhi.
Aman reports that:
“I face a lot of harassment and discrimination in my daily life from strangers and fellow citizens which hampers my education and personal growth. Being gay in a city like Delhi is not easy and I feel very helpless when my family doesn't understand what it means to be queer and always compares me to other straight people who receive all the privileges just for living up to societal norms. I cannot hide my sexuality from anyone and pretend what I am not. I want to help people who don't have a voice and those who face similar discrimination and violence.
We [LGBT people] have no place even in our families, they can disown us anytime with no support. I have been thrown out of my house multiple times because I advocated for queer rights and even got some of my work published which my family members and relatives did not approve of.
I am bullied, labelled, name called, and discriminated in our [Indian] public spaces. The least I demand is dignity and respect. I come from an ‘Other Backward Class’ (OBC) background and have lesser privileges than the upper class, rich queer folks who can better cope with these kinds of discrimination and harassment.
Slightly over a year ago, also joined a queer affirmative Christian youth in Philadelphia called F.U.E.L (faith utilized in everyday living) and met lovely and supportive people like Leon and Wil who have stood by me, kept checking on me, and validated my feelings. I would not have survived the COVID-19 pandemic had I not met them. I volunteer to help with the social media, send meeting invites to people and upload the summaries of the verses we discuss in those meetings. This is truly my calling! I love doing God's work as it gives me a sense of direction and purpose and these meetings have helped me to strengthen my relationship with God.”
How Q7 Rescue India Works
What are We Going to Do?
Aman has expressed a desire to come to the United States to shore up his faith in community with other LGBT Christians, learn advocacy, gay pride and confidence as an LGBT person, and to earn a graduate degree, and to use these new skills and experiences to develop a plan to help other similarly situation people in India. Q7 will use this factual scenario as a template to rescue Aman and other Indian youth in Aman’s situation in the future. At present, in order to address the housing and food insecurities faced by Aman, Q7 provides a very modest monthly grant to keep him safe. We will replicate this procedure, as needed, with future Q7 India rescues. Academic study in the in the United States is restricted to those foreign nationals who have a sponsor and requires funds on account prior to being admitted to the USA that cover: 1) tuition; 2) food; 3) rent; 4) books; and 5) all other expenses. Foreign students are severely restricted in the number of hours they can work, and for the most part are allowed only on-campus, field of study related work. (See https://www.uscis.gov/working-in-the-united-states/students-and-exchange-visitors/students-and-employment). For Aman and other similarly situated, Q7 would provide through its fundraising, financial resources that will be paid for by the Q7 treasury directly to service providing organizations, not deposited directly into the account of the individual being rescued. The proved resources would consist of: Miscellaneous Costs Student Visa Preparation and Legal Representation:$1,200.00 Travel from India$807.00 (one way estimate) Public Transportation in the USA (Annually)$1,152.00 Food/Groceries (Annually)$3,700.00 Clothes and other maintenance$1,500.00 Stipend$650.00 _______ TOTAL$ 9,009.00 Estimated Expenses for Academic Year: 2017-2018 at Montgomery County Community College Tuition & Fees: (the minimum at 24 credits per year) $11,850 Books & Supplies $1,000 Immunizations $200 Health Insurance $950 Housing: $9,000 _____________ TOTAL $23,000 Estimated Expenses for Academic Year: 2017-2018 at College of Philadelphia County Community TOTAL $28,114 USD Estimated Expenses for Academic Year: 2017-2018 at Temple University School of Social Work Tuition $26,239.00 Fees $462.00 Housing$9,500.00 _________ TOTAL$36,201.00