The money will support the Lakshya Trust, an LGBTQ rights group in Gujarat.
The first ever fundraiser in the United States to benefit the LGBTQ community in India was held at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York on March 8.
The beneficiary of the event, “Equality in India,” was the Lakshya Trust, an organization that raises funds for the LGBTQ community in India.
More than 80 guests attended the event, which was hosted by human rights activist Joshua Patel. The attendees included business leaders, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, attorneys, physicians, artists and scholars.
The event raised more than $7,000—all of which will go to India.
Speakers highlighted the progress made by the Indian LGBTQ community and spoke of the path to a brighter future.
“The truth is, myself and all of the other allies in this room have such an admiration and respect for each and every one of you,” said Roshani Patel, a dentist and a supporter of the community. “For your story, for your strength, and for your beliefs. We are here to stand beside you and to fight with you and for all of our brothers and sisters in India for the simple things that matter to all of us. Freedom, Equality, and Love.”
Joshua Patel shared with the audience the steps the Lakshya Trust is taking to gain a more inclusive India. He cited the Trust’s campaign against the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which was introduced by the British in 1861, which indicates that sexual intercourse that “goes against nature,” including homosexual relations, can lead to a life sentence in prison.
“The Lakshya Trust has a holistic approach to fighting against India’s archaic laws,” he said. “As I visited three of their sites in Vadodara, Gujarat — I saw that they valued empowering the community from the grassroots level — educating people from all backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses.”
One of the highlights of event was performances by New York’s LGBTQ South Asian community, including a performance by Lal Batti, Indo-Carribean dancer Zaman, and a tribute to the late Bollywood star Sridevi, who died last month, by Hariqbal Basi.
The event also featured remarks from Joshua’s parents, PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) supporters, Prashant (Paul) and Mona Patel and a video message from Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil.
The event overhead was generously covered by Prashant (Paul) and Mona Patel.
Stonewall Inn, a National Historic Landmark, is the site of the 1969 riots that launched the US gay rights movement.
Lakshya, a community-based public charitable trust launched in 2000, works on various issues addressing and advocating the social, economic, legal, psychological, spiritual and health aspects of sexual minorities (gay, bisexual and transgender population) in the Indian state of Gujarat. It primarily works on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention among MSM — men having sex with men — and GBT (gay, bisexual and transgender) in three major cities of Gujarat, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot.