It began as a book launched in India this summer by Parmesh Shahani, a gay activist and businessman, and is gaining popularity across the globe among business leaders

THIS has been a horrible year for people across the globe, but one cause for optimism among India’s large LGBT population this summer was the release of a book by Parmesh Shahani, above, Vice President at Godrej Industries Ltd entitled Queeristan: LGBTQ Inclusion in the Indian Workplace.

Image via YoutTube

Shanani, above, decided to pen Queeristan in the wake of a groundbreaking ruling in 2018 that saw Section 377 struck down by the Supreme Court. Section 377 referred to “unnatural offences” comprising carnal intercourse against “the order of nature”, and had made the “offences” punishable.

This, according to Amazon, led to:

A fundamental shift in the rights of India’s LGBTQ citizens and necessitated policy changes across the board – not least in the conservative world of Indian business.

In Queeristan, Shahani draws from his decade-long journey in the corporate world as an out and proud gay man, to make a cogent case for LGBTQ inclusion and lay down a step-by-step guide to reshaping office culture in India – and beyond, holding seminars across the globe.

He talks to inclusion champions and business leaders about how they worked towards change; traces the benefits reaped by industry giants like Godrej, Tata Steel, IBM, Wipro, the Lalit group of hotels and many others who have tapped into the power of diversity; and shares the stories of employees whose lives were revolutionised by LGBTQ-friendly workspaces.

The book’s aim is to improve the lot of LGBT people working in industry and to hammer home the message that an inclusive, workplaces are extremely good for businesses wanting to attract gay, lesbian and trans employees and customers.

The author said in an interview this week in Money Control:

According to a report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the global spending power of LGBTQ consumers is estimated to be more than $5 trillion a year.

In a white paper published in April 2018, the non-profit LGBT Foundation in Hong Kong calculated that if the LGBTQ community worldwide were a country, it would be the fourth-largest economy in terms of GDP.

Here’s another number for you: US $200 billion. That is the size of India’s queer economy.

Queeristan appears to becoming a movement as well.

After learning of  Shanani’s book, I spotted a report in The College Fix that Muslim students at Duke University in North Carolina have organised a series of events to promote acceptance of homosexuality and other LGBTQ-related issues and to create a community for gay Muslims.

The event series, called Queeristan, aims to connect LGBTQ Muslims to one another. It is a collaboration of the school’s Center for Muslim Life  (CML)  and the student publication Juhood Magazine.

“As far as the CML receiving criticism here and there, the answer is yes,” Joshua Salaam, the center’s director, told The College Fix via email. The Fix had asked if the Muslim community had criticised the promotion of LGBTQ issues.

We have a very diverse group of students on campus and they constantly engage us with their thoughts, opinions and concerns on many issues,” Salaam said. “I can only pray they continue that practice so our office can stay informed.”

In October, the organisers hosted a movie night for the film My Beautiful Laundrette, a 1985 British movie about a two gay men who run a laundromat together.

Queeristan also hosted a discussion titled “Homosexuality in Islam with Dr. Scott Kugle” .

Image via YouTube

Kugle, above, is a graduate of Duke and currently works as a professor at Emory University. He wrote a 2010 book titled Homosexuality in Islam: Critical Reflection on Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Muslims.

One female student at Duke who did not want to be named said:

The broader Muslim community at Duke was very, very supportive. And many people came from the general Muslim student population.

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