AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan

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AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (English: AIDS Anti-Discrimination Movement),[1] popularly known as ABVA, was India's first[2] AIDS activist movement, based in New Delhi. The group received popular recognition with the publication of its pioneering report Less than Gay in 1991.[3] Founded in 1988,[1] Through this report, ABVA advocated for civil rights of LGBTQ people to include same sex marriage, LGBT parenting, and the decriminalization of homosexuality through the repeal of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.[4] In 1994, ABVA filed the first petition challenging the constitutionality of Section 377 in the Delhi High Court, in order to challenge prison authorities' ban on condom distribution.[5]

Brief Background[edit]

ABVA got involved in AIDS activism in 1989 on hearing from women in the red-light area that doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had forcibly tested them for HIV, with the help of the police. ABVA protested this action, asking that good quality condoms, humane treatment and rehabilitation schemes for HIV positive people be made a prerequisite for any government screening for HIV.[6] In addition, it began running a free dispensary for sex workers in Delhi's GB Road District.[7]

Between February 1990 and August 1991, the ABVA organised several demonstrations in New Delhi to protest against the prevailing discriminatory attitude of authorities against HIV/AIDS victims.[6]

The 1994 ABVA petition was filed in the Delhi high court in response to the then IG (Prisons) Kiran Bedi blocking access to condoms at Tihar Jail, India's largest prison. Reacting to claims that two-thirds of all inmates at Tihar had engaged in homosexual behaviour, Bedi said consensual homosexual behaviour was virtually unknown at Tihar and that usage of condoms would promote homosexuality.[8]

Less Than Gay[edit]

In late 1991, ABVA came out with a report titled "Less Than Gay: A Citizens' Report on the Status of Homosexuality in India" which was the first document to publicly demand queer rights in India.[9]

The report is an interesting breakthrough and should be regarded with respect as it provided the first resource on homosexuality in India.


ABVA's activities included:

  • Public advocacy; one success included stalling the AIDS Prevention Bill in 1989 through numerous petitions to Indian parliament.
  • Organizing public meetings, protest actions and public demonstrations as part of AIDS activism in India.
  • Networking with AIDS activists and activist organizations in India and abroad.
  • Grass-root work in Delhi slums and with gay people, with other NGO's involvement.
  • Research and publication of citizen reports.
  • Campaigning for the decriminalization of sodomy in India through efforts to repeal all discriminatory legislation.


  1. ^ a b Fernandez, Bina, ed. (1999). Humjinsi: A Resource Book on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Rights in India. Mumbai: India Centre for Human Rights and Law. p. 35.
  2. ^ Siddhartha Gautam Film Festival. "Siddhartha Gautam Film Festival Flyer". Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  3. ^ Vanitha, Ruth. "Homosexuality in India: Past and Present" (PDF). Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  4. ^ Kole, Subir (2007). "Globalizing queer? AIDS, homophobia and the politics of sexual identity in India". Global Health. 3 (8). doi:10.1186/1744-8603-3-8. PMC 2018684. PMID 17623106.
  5. ^ Dave, Naisargi (2012). Queer Activism in India: A Story in the Anthropology of Ethics. Duke University Press. p. 173. ISBN 978-0822353195.
  6. ^ a b ABVA. "Less Than Gay". ABVA.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Friese, Kai. "Safe Custody?". India Today. India Today.
  9. ^ "{title}" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-07-29. Retrieved 2014-07-19.