MISSION AND HISTORY
Kolkata Anandam for Equality and Justice is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Kothi and Hijra (LGBTQKH*) organization that fights for a process of social and political change to enhance the rights, dignity and quality of life of LGBTKH* people in Kolkata.We are a grassroots, community-led organization that works from an anti-violence framework. Anandam believes that violence is a multifaceted issue in our community and can manifest as economic, physical, sexual, emotional, social and state violence. We believe strongly in upholding human rights for all.
Anandam is led by and serves the most marginalized members of Kolkata’s queer population. KAEJ’s work is based in red light districts throughout rural and urban West Bengal. Many of our members are low income men, women and transgendered individuals who cannot find work due to their gender presentation and/or sexuality. Because of this, many members engage the sex industry and other street economies for survival. Due to the criminalization of both sex work and LGBTQKH* persons in India our members often face compounded discrimination due to homophobia, transphobia, social abuse and poverty. Through awareness campaigns, institutional training programs, protest, and LGBTQKH* movement building from the ground up, we ultimately hope to create a more equitable and accepting social and political environment for queer people in India
KAEJ would like to acknowledge that it originated from Balaram Dey Street Anandam (BDSA), the LGBTKH wing of a sex-worker collective based in Sonagachi Kolkata. After facing years of negligence and discrimination from this organization, the leaders and community members of BDSA were forced to take a stand against institutional transphobia and chose to leave the organization to start a new post as Kolkata Anandam for Equality and Justice (KAEJ). Throughout this website you may notice BDSA mentioned. We have kept this historical record of our work under the name BDSA because we do not wish to erase the years of admirable organizing that our leaders and members have committed—we are proud of our heritage and refuse to sacrifice it with our exodus from the sex worker collective. Moving forward however, we will be organizing under the name KAEJ and will operate with full autonomy, dignity and self-sufficiency.
The asterisk* after LGBTQKH symbolizes the inclusivity of Anandam's greater community. India has an incredibly diverse queer culture which also includes: intersex, asexual, kinnar, shiv-shakti, aravani, men having sex with men (MSM) and many others. Anandam is inclusive of all people with non-normative gender or sexual identities and/or practices.