It’s been three years since our country said goodbye to Section 377. It took India 70 years to get rid of the colloquial law, which was fought for by human rights activists from both within and outside the community. Keshav Suri, an out and proud gay man, was also a writ petitioner started a social campaign #PureLove that created ripples, and his work for his LGBTQIA + community continues to grow, inspire and instill hope in the lives of many more.
Keshav Suri founded an eponymous Keshav Suri Foundation just after the reading down of Section 377. Last three years the foundation has been attempting to build the nation by embracing, empowering, and mainstreaming India’s underprivileged people.
One of the main aim of the Keshav Suri Foundation is to build livelihood opportunities for marginalized communities. To commemorate the foundation’s third anniversary, on October 13, 2021, the organization held a one-day walk-in Diversity Job Fair for the LGBTQIA + groups, persons with disabilities, and acid attack survivors seeking internships and apprenticeships in a safe environment. This job fair was held across 11 cities of the country at The Lalit, of which Suri is the Executive Director.
The job was a success and saw healthy participation from various intersectional communities. “We interviewed 109 candidates from the LGBTQIA+ communities, people with disabilities, and acid attack survivors. It is great to see our endeavors being answered. 60 candidates have been shortlisted for jobs and training, across functions and positions,” said Mr. Akshay Tyagi from the Keshav Suri Foundation.
The foundation also offers a fully funded Scholarship – a one-and-a-half-year diploma programme at the Lalit Suri Hospitality School in food production and bakery. The foundation started this fellowship in 2019 for Trans/queer people in order to level the playing field for the trans community, who mostly do not get the opportunity to study. This year, a scholarship has been awarded to Sohail (bisexual man), Arjun Saini (transman), Jayraj (transman), and Raj Chauhan (transman).
“It has been 3 years since I started my foundation. The road to equality is still a far-fetched dream .and we are doing our best to build an egalitarian nation. Sensitizing workplaces, providing education, and creating job opportunities are the three important pillars of our work at KSF. We are also providing free mental health counselling for the community members. I am sure our consistent efforts will bring about a positive change to the queer and marginalized lives and enable them to lead a life of dignity,” said Mr. Keshav Suri, Founder, Keshav Suri Foundation.
On October 23, the Keshav Suri Foundation will host an informative Gender Queering workshop for media at The Lalit New Delhi to further their understanding of queer issues and the necessity of representation and compassionate language. In the previous three years, the foundation has trained over 2000 queer people via various programmes at KSF, provided over 200 queer people with various possibilities at The Lalit, and given over 500 queer artists opportunities at Kitty Su and The Lalit.
During the pandemic, The foundation worked with a variety of supply chains, assisting over 100 CBOs and NGOs around the country, assisting over 50 corporations in their D&I journeys, and providing food and essential supplies to over five million people.