Mumbai to get India's first LGBT cab service
A Mumbai based community organization Humsafar Trust, along with Wings Travels, has launched a taxi service exclusively operated by LGBT individuals. The initiative, a first in India, seeks to empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community by providing them with a source of livelihood. The idea was conceptualized in August 2014 and the founders hope to get more LGBT members on board.
NALSA judgement: Setting a precedent
The groundbreaking judgment in the NALSA vs Union of India case set the stage for recognition of equal rights for transgenders. The Supreme Court had affirmed the constitutional rights and freedoms of transgenders, by officially recognizing the 'third gender.' Under the ruling, trangender individuals are to be admitted to educational institutions and given employment on the basis that they belonged to the 'third gender'.
How will the taxi service work?
The service is to be officially rolled out by 2017. Under the pilot project, three gay men and two transgenders will undergo six months of training to obtain their all-India drivers license. In addition, they will undergo computer, language and etiquette training as well. According to Arun Kharat, founder of Wings Travels, there will be over 1500 openings for LGBT individuals by 2016 end.
A good source of income
Drivers with the initiative can earn nearly Rs 15,000 per month under the scheme. The organisations are spending nearly Rs 4,000 per head for the training and other procedures on the five members.
What was the response to the initiative?
Members of the LGBT community in Mumbai have welcomed the initiative. A worker with the Humsafar trust hoped that by joining the initiative, his family could "proudly say that I work as a driver and earn well." A transgender who is part of the pilot project said she joined the initiative "to prove transgenders are capable of more than just begging or sex work."
Are there other such initiatives in the world?
In December 2010, the city of San Francisco launched 'Homobile', a cab service operated exclusively by members of the LGBT community. Russia has an 'underground' taxi service called 'Our Taxi', which caters to LGBT members in the country where there are extremely high levels of homophobia. In May 2015, drivers in London launched the rainbow cab initiative to mark the International Day Against Homophobia.