Queer persons face discrimination and other obstacles in all areas of life, but especially at the workplace. The IT and ITeS sector is still rife with regressive and exclusionary attitudes towards queer workers. Laws and policies to protect queer workers often end up making the workplace a more welcoming and accommodating place for all workers. Keeping this background in mind, the All India IT and ITeS Employees’ Union organised consultations with queer IT workers to frame this demand charter.
A. Legal protection
1. Existing laws such as the Industrial Disputes Act and Shops and Establishments Act prevent discrimination among workers on the basis of sex. This anti-discrimination protection should be extended to other categories such as sexual orientation and gender identity.
2. Currently, Indian law recognises sexual harassment at the workplace as punishable only against women. Harassment, and sexual harassment, in the workplace against trans women and other sexual and gender minorities should be specifically covered by the law.
3. In addition, State and Central governments must effect laws and regulations that legally protect queer workers and provide them with proper recourse against workplace discrimination.
1. Organisational health insurance should cover medical costs specific to queer workers, for instance, trans-affirmative care.
2. Mental health care should be made available to all workers. While particularly useful for queer workers, mental health care is useful for all workers.
C. Workplace reform
1. Recruitment practices in the technology sector should work towards ensuring that there is adequate queer representation in organisations.
2. Queer workers should not be discriminated against with regard to appraisals, promotions, or benefits including participation in conferences or external events.
3. Anti-discrimination policies must be elaborated upon and enforced strictly. These policies should be framed after conducting expert consultations and soliciting inputs from queer workers.
4. Special leaves such as parental or menstrual leaves should be applicable for queer workers without question or probing on sex, sexuality or gender identity.
5. Complaints made by queer employees should be taken seriously. Consequences of breaking anti-discrimination regulations must be followed through consistently.
6. Sensitisation and educational workshops on coming out, pronouns, misgendering, transitioning, and other topics should be mandatory for all workers, and should not be limited to already conscious workers volunteering to attend. There must also be efforts made to have queer experts conduct such workshops.
7. Official communication should maintain gender neutral language. Inclusive language such as ‘partner’ instead of husband or wife should be incorporated into official communication, including communication from employers about out-of-office activities.
8. Trans workers’ preferred names should be used for their email IDs and in all official and personal communication. This practice is best carried out through a blanket policy of preferred names for all workers, so that no worker is forced to out themselves.
9. All offices should have gender neutral washrooms that are easily accessible. Breaks can often be very short in the IT sector, and gender-neutral washrooms should not be in locations that are difficult to reach quickly.
10. Worker diversity is crucial but vendor diversity is also important. Queer-led groups should be brought into the orbit of the company as vendors. Vendors should also educated on anti-discrimination.
All India IT and ITeS Employees’ Union
August 15, 2022