Established in June 2007, the Lesbian Association of India (LAI) is a United Kingdom-based organisation working to support lesbian and bisexual women in India, which has a population of 1.12 billion. There are many independent or small organisations working for LGBT groups in larger cities within India, however many states and smaller cities are without such organisations. The LAI is believed to be the first organisation of its kind which openly plans to provide services to the entire country.
Talking about Pune, the city in Maharastra where the first center will be established, founder Molly Blackburn notes, "while there were groups for gay men in India, there was nothing for women". Its aims in India are summed up thusly:
|“||Supporting lesbian and bisexual women, empowering them to live safely and positively within their community! Educating key players in society. We work to educate and support, not to confront or protest!||”|
LAI was established in 2007 by its director, Molly Blackburn, after making several trips to India, from the age of 15, and having seen and experienced first-hand the plight of thousands of lesbian women in India who suffer as a direct result of the intolerance, ignorance and conservative religious attitudes that remain pervasive in Indian society.
Break the Silence: A blog reacting to the silence and secrecy in which Indian lesbian or bisexual women must live, and the rather Victorian belief that two women can not be lovers. A space where men or women from around the world can post messages or creative literature in support of the women in India, and begin to 'break the silence'.
Community Centers: LAI plans to establish a community center in one city for every state in India,Template:Huh each center will:
- Provide an environment where women can find safety discreetly.
- Provide legal reading material, and advice.
- Provide counseling
- Provide an environment for lesbian/bisexual women to meet, interact and share with one another with the aim to give a feeling positive feeling of group identity, and reduce the harmful negative attitude many will have experienced from family, friends or public.
- Organize weekly socials and events with the help and active involvement of local women to encourage confidence.
- Will employ lesbian/bisexual women as voluntary workers from the community in various capacities.
- Encourage graduates to work with the LAI in India to gain experience.
- Will work with the local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to educate, sensitize and facilitate the safe referral of any lesbian/ bisexual women to LAI.
The LAI is currently supporting the research project of Seher, an Indian team based in Pune, Maharashtra. The project is entitled 'Understanding Health/Mental Health needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Individuals.' The project completion date is for 2008.