On Friday, US President Donald Trump called Ayushmann Khurrana and Jitendra Kumar's gay rom-com movie, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, "great" and people were quick to label him a "LGBTQ hero" for standing up for a film on homosexuality. A bit too quick, perhaps.
Trump became the President of the United States in 2017 and in these three years, his administration has, on multiple occasions, defended anti-LGBTQ policies and withdrawn federal protections that earlier Presidents had introduced. A quick glance at Trump's own Twitter account will also reveal that the POTUS isn't too keen on gay rights either. Yet, he is being hailed as a hero for simply tweeting an ambiguous and vague adjective about a movie on homosexuality.
Given Trump's never-ending list of Twitter faux pas, we can never really know what he meant by the tweet - if he meant it to be sarcastic or retweeted gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell's tweet in haste.
Also, Trump and his family will be on an official visit to India between February 24 and 25. While the Indian government is going out of its way to "revamp" the country for the President, the President too is probably preparing in his own way by reading up on anything that's trending in India at the moment.
Before you rush to congratulate Ayushmann or rejoice because the US President apparently endorsed a Bollywood movie on homosexuality, let us remind you of Trump's devastating record as far as his stance on LGBTQ rights is concerned.
In February 2017, just a month after Trump was elected as the US President, his administration withdrew the federal protections that his predecessor Barrack Obama had put in place for transgender students in public schools.
The guidance introduced by Obama in 2016 was to help the students implement Title IX, which would ensure that they aren't subject to discrimination in schools and can use restrooms and washrooms based on whatever their gender identity may be.
Following this, the Education department also announced that they wouldn't be investigating any more complaints by transgender students who had been barred from using public school washrooms according to gender identity.
Three months into his Presidency, the Departments of Justice and Labor cancelled their quarterly conference calls held with LGBT organisations. The purpose of these calls was to gather information on employment and other issues related to the gay community.
In July of the same year, Trump announced in a tweet that no transgender persons can serve in the US military in any capacity. That's not all. He also released a memo which would allow the military to discharge any transgenders already appointed.
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
In September, he nominated Jeff Mateer to become a District Judge. Mateer had previously called transgender children a part of Satan's plan. Yes, that happened.
In 2018, the UN representatives in Trump administration ensured that any references to transgender persons were removed from all human rights related documents at the United Nations.
The Trump administration also scrapped an Obama-era order which was put in place to protect transgender inmates in American prisons. According to the new order by Trump, inmates would be housed only based on biological sex.
In February 2019, Trump publicly promised to help out adoption agencies which had previously come under the scanner for turning away gay parents on religious grounds.
In August 2019, the Labour Department proposed to roll back an order which had been passed by former US President Barrack Obama in 2014, banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity among federal contractors. This is the very same order that the Trump administration had promised would remain untouched in 2017.
In June last year, Trump also rejected the request of several US embassies to hoist rainbow flags to mark Pride Month. But of course, supporters of Trump will choose to look the other way and point out that he tweeted acknowledging the beginning of Pride Month.
As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison, or even execute individuals....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2019
The list is endless. In the past three years, Trump and his administration have gone out of their way to make sure that the LGBTQ communities are deprived of basic rights and have again and again supported policies that pave the way for gender based discrimination.
So, can Trump really be called a hero for the LGBTQ people?
In India, the Supreme Court did scrap Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalized homosexuality in 2018, but there's still a long way to go.
Members of the LGBTQ community have practically no representation as far as law makers are concerned; in 2019, the Transgender Bill was passed which was ideally supposed to urb discrimination and empower them as socially and economically backward classes. However, the law is vague and has no practical provisions for implementation.
In 2019, a study conducted by UNESCO and Sahodaran, a male sexual health organisation from Chennai showed that a majority of transgender and gay persons are subject to emotional and physical bullying which has a long-lasting impact on their well-being.
While the situation of the LGBTQ communities in India continues to be dismal, Trump’s ‘great’ tweet doesn’t do anything to change his homophobic image or gay rights in india.