Tuesday, August 7, 2018

2018 Out & Equal LGBTQ India Forum

The Out & Equal LGBTQ India Forum was last Thursday in Bengaluru, India.  This was the first time the event has ever been held in Asia Pacific and I was proud to see IBM there as the presenting sponsor.

This was an amazing event with 150 people from over 100 different companies coming together to champion diversity and workplace inclusion.

India has a law called Section 377, which the British introduced in the 1860s, and it carries a life's prison sentence for gay sex.  India's Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of 377 and people are hopeful that the law will be overturned soon.

This made me truly appreciate the the Czech Republic is one of the most liberal countries in Central Europe.  In 2006, the country legalised registered partnerships, registrované partnerství, for same-sex couples.  However, this is not the same thing as equal marriage. Currently registered partners have no right to joint property and widow's or widower's pensions.  A bill will be debated in Parliament this Autumn that, if passed, will make Czech Republic the first post-communist country to legalise same-sex marriage.

IBM has a history of being out front when it comes to inclusion.  As of 1.1.2017, IBM is one of the first companies in the country to recognise registered LGBT partnerships in the area of paid time off. So even though the labour law doesn't require a company here to provide paid time off for the following scenarios, IBM does it because it is the right thing to do.

  • marriage/registered partnership ceremony
  • child birth
  • death/burial
  • accompany a family member to the health-care facility for examination or treatment in emergency illness or injury and for the planned examination, treatment, or cure.
This type of forward thinking comes from leaders who recognise the value of diversity and inclusion, and who understand that ultimately it's good for business.

On Friday there was a leadership workshop for IBMers from across the world.  It really is a small world and a few people I met before in 2016 at a European LGBT leadership workshop in Amsterdam.

IBMers from Australia, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, UK, and USA

Update:  India's Supreme Court overturned parts of Section 377 on 6.9.2018.  Consensual homosexual sex between adults is no longer illegal.  I'm so happy for all of my Indian colleagues.

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