The 2022 Casa Asia Award in the category of Diversity and Sustainable Development has been awarded ex-aequo to Saurabh Kirpal (India) and Shinta Ratri (Indonesia) for their contribution to gender equality in Asia, and in particular for their struggle, from legal practice and social activism, in favor of the dignity and rights of LGBTIQ+ people in India and Indonesia, respectively.
Parallel to the 2022 Casa Asia Award Ceremony, which will take place on Friday, July 8, in the Saló de Cent of the Barcelona City Council, Casa Asia, in collaboration with the University of Barcelona, the Barcelona LGBTI Center and the Department of Equality and Feminism of Generalitat de Catalunya, organises a meeting open to the public with the two awarded people. This event will take place in English with interpretation into Spanish.
Raúl Ramos, Vice-rector for Internationalization Policy, University of Barcelona
Javier Parrondo, Director General of Casa Asia
LGTBIQ+ rights in India: progress and challenges
Saurabh Kirpal (India), lawyer and activist
Religion and LGTBIQ+ activism in Indonesia
Shinta Ratri, co-founder of Pondok Pesantren Waria, Koranic school for transgender women, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Cristóbal Alvear, researcher in comparative constitutionalism in South Asia and legal adviser in Asian legal systems
At the end there will be questions from the audience.
Saurabh Kirpal has been a lawyer at the Supreme Court of India and the New Delhi High Court since 2004 and one of the leading LGBTIQ+ activists in India.
He has recently edited the book Sex and the Supreme Court: How the Law is upholding the dignity of the Indian citizen, which describes both the judicial fight against section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that he led together with a group of colleagues, as well as the pending judicial and legal challenges for the recognition of LGBTIQ+ rights in India.
Saurabh Kirpal is also a patron of the Naz Foundation India, one of the main Indian NGOs for the protection and defense of LGBTIQ+ people in India, and whose civil action in 2001 initiated the legal process against section 377 of the Indian Penal Code of 1860.
Saurabh Kirpal’s professional activism in defending the rights of LGBTIQ+ people has been essential in achieving the decriminalization of same-sex relationships in his country through the 2018 Supreme Court ruling in the Navtej Singh Johar case, in whose defense he actively participated.
The decriminalization by the Supreme Court of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code relating to same-sex relationships, a criminal type shared by those Asian countries that have inherited the British penal code after the decolonization process, not only has relevance in South Asia but throughout the Asian continent. Saurabh Kirpal’s determination has made the LGBTIQ+ cause visible in India and has been a role model in other Asian countries.
Shinta Ratri, a transsexual Muslim woman, identifies as “waria” – an Indonesian term for transgender people or people between two identities.
Ratri is the founder of the only Koranic school for her community in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, the Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-Fatah. This boarding school/school, opened in 2008, is a safe space where the Muslim LGTBI+ community can practice their religion, without the hostile reactions of other devotes, and where activities that allow the transgender community to share experiences are organised.
The journalist Ana González has made the documentary The Waria of Java about the figure of Shinta Ratri and her work at the head of the Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-Fatah school:
Cristóbal Alvear is a researcher in comparative constitutionalism in South Asia, legal adviser in Asian legal systems and institutional adviser for Asia-Spain relations. He is also an associate professor at IE Law School and coordinator of the legal area of the Spanish Association for Interdisciplinary Studies on India. During his more than twelve years of professional experience in India and Pakistan, he has been a delegate of the Spain-India Council Foundation and a Consular Officer at the Embassy of Spain in New Delhi. He has a degree in Law and Business Administration from the UPO, and a Master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from the Diplomatic School of Madrid. Among his latest projects the following publication can be found: España-India 2020: una reflexión conjunta sobre el pasado, presente y futuro de las relaciones bilaterales for the Spain-India Council Foundation.