This is a timeline of notable events in the history of non-heterosexual conforming people of South Asian ancestry, who may identify as LGBTIQGNC (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, third gender, gender nonconforming), men who have sex with men, or related culturally-specific identitiessuch as Hijra, Aravani, Thirunangaigal, Khwajasara, Kothi, Thirunambigal, Jogappa, Jogatha, or Shiva Shakti. The recorded history traces back at least two millennia.
This timeline includes events both in South Asia and in the global South Asian diaspora, as the histories are deeply linked.South Asia includes the modern day nations of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka; in some references, the South Asian subcontinent will also include Afghanistan, Burma (Myanmar), and Tibet. The South Asian diaspora includes, but is not limited to South Asian LGBTQ communities in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Caribbean Islands, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere.
400 BCE - 200 BCE
3rd century BC to c. 4th century AD
Late 1970s / early 1980s
1998: First public reading of Ash Kotak's play Hijra at the Riverside Studios, London
Asian Gay Literature: An Annotated Bibliography of Modern LGBTQ Works of Literary Fiction and Biography, Arranged by Country, 2nd edition (2021) ASIAN GAY LITERATURE, 2nd ed. (2021) (150-page digital list of novels, poetry, short stories, autobiographies, etc. Includes many works from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and other countries across Asia)
In the Indian subcontinent, hijra are eunuchs, intersex people, or transgender people who live in communities that follow a kinship system known as guru-chela system. They are also known as aravani, aruvani, and jogappa, In Pakistan, they are known as khawaja sira, the equivalent of transgender in the Urdu language.
Hindu views of homosexuality and LGBT issues more generally are diverse, and different Hindu groups have distinct views.
Homosexuality in India has been a subject of discussion since ancient times to modern times. Hindu texts have taken positions regarding the homosexual characters and themes. Rigveda, one of the four canonical sacred texts of Hinduism says Vikriti Evam Prakriti, The ancient Indian text Kama Sutra written by Vātsyāyana dedicates a complete chapter on erotic homosexual behaviour. Historical literary evidence indicates that homosexuality has been prevalent across the Indian subcontinent throughout history.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)-affirming religious groups are religious groups that welcome LGBT people as their members, do not consider homosexuality as a sin or negative, and affirm LGBT rights and relationships. They include entire religious denominations, as well as individual congregations and places of worship. Some groups are mainly composed of non-LGBT members and they also have specific programs to welcome LGBT people into them, while other groups are mainly composed of LGBT members.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in India are afforded greater protections than those in many other Asian countries. However, Indian LGBT citizens may still face social and legal difficulties not experienced by non-LGBT people.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) people have no human rights in Bangladesh. Homosexuality is illegal under Bangladeshi law, which is inherited from the colonial British Indian government's Section 377 of 1860. According to the law, the punishment for engaging in same-sex sexual activities is imprisonment.
Trikone is a non-profit support, social, and political organization for South Asian bisexual, lesbian, gay, and transgender people. It was founded in 1986 in the San Francisco Bay Area and is one of the oldest groups of its kind in the world. South Asians affiliated with Trikone are from or trace their ancestry to the following countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tibet. Trikone published an eponymous magazine with an international base of subscribers several times a year. The magazine was the oldest South Asian LGBT magazine in the U.S., and ran from 1986 to 2014.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in Tamil Nadu are the most progressive among all states of India. Tamil Nadu was the first state in India to introduce a transgender welfare policy, wherein transgender individuals can access free gender affirmation surgery in government hospitals and various other benefits and rights. The state was also the first to ban forced sex-selective surgeries on intersex infants, and also the first state to include an amendment in its state police guidelines that expects officers to abstain from harassing the LGBTQIA+ community and its members. The state also became the first to ban conversion therapy as well as the first to introduce LGBTQIA+ issues in school curricula.
The relationship between religion and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people can vary greatly across time and place, within and between different religions and sects, and regarding different forms of homosexuality, bisexuality, non-binary, and transgender identities. More generally, the relationship between religion and sexuality ranges widely among and within them, from giving sex and sexuality a rather negative connotation to believing that sex is the highest expression of the divine.
The LGBTQ community has a long recorded history in Ancient India due to the prevalence of the accepting Hindu spiritual traditions and cultures across the subcontinent, with a turbulent period following Islamic Turkic rule and Christian European colonialism that introduced homophobic and transphobic laws, thus criminalizing homosexuality and transsexuality. In the 21st century following independence, there has been a significant amount of progress made on liberalizing LGBTQ laws and reversing the homophobia and transphobia of the previous colonial era.
India has a vibrant LGBTQ culture, especially in its large cities due to growing acceptance in the recent years.
Anjali Gopalan is an Indian human rights and animal rights activist, founder and executive director of The Naz Foundation (India) Trust, an NGO dedicated to the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in India mainly focused on women and children. Anjali began working on issues related to HIV/AIDS and marginalized communities in the United States. In 2012, Time magazine placed Gopalan on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Gaylaxy is an Indian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) magazine. The magazine is based in Kolkata.
This is a timeline of notable events in the history of non-heterosexual conforming people of Asian and Pacific Islander ancestry, who may identify as LGBTIQGNC, men who have sex with men, or related culturally-specific identities. This timeline includes events both in Asia and the Pacific Islands and in the global Asian and Pacific Islander diaspora, as the histories are very deeply linked. Please note: this is a very incomplete timeline, notably lacking LGBTQ-specific items from the 1800s to 1970s, and should not be used as a research resource until additional material is added.
The following outline offers an overview and guide to LGBT topics.
Shamakami was an early organization of South Asian lesbians and bisexual women based in the United States. They published a newsletter of the same name between June 1990 and February 1997.
Khush is a 1991 British short film directed by Pratibha Parmar. It portrays lesbians and gay men from India and other parts of Asia, discussing their coming out and their acceptance and embracing of their sexuality. Khush also discusses homosexuality in the Indian diaspora.
Khush: South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association was a queer collective activist organization in Canada geared towards South Asian men and women whose goal was to promote a better understanding of South Asian culture and values within the gay and lesbian community.
The following list is a partially completed compilation of events considered to have a profound effect on the welfare or image of Tamil sexual minorities. The use of bold typeface indicates that the event is widely considered to be landmark:
Bindumadhav Khire is an LGBTQ+ rights activist from Pune, Maharashtra, India. He runs Samapathik Trust, an NGO which works on LGBTQ+ issues in Pune district. He founded Samapathik Trust in 2002 to cater the men having sex with men (MSM) community in Pune city. He has also written on the issues on sexuality in fictional and non-fictional forms including edited anthologies, plays, short-stories, and informative booklets.
Walderman Hansen doubts whether sensual passions played any part in their love [sic]; puri doubts about their homosexual relationship