Public talk on 'Queering Animal Rights?' by Mr Alok Hisarwala

Archived


Date: Sept. 3, 2019

Venue: Old Conference Hall, TISS, Mumbai


Abstract:

In this talk, I wish to draw some parallels between the journey of LGBT rights in India, from a fragmented to a cohesive queer movement, and the journey I see Animal Welfare and Protection work in India towards a global language of animal rights. Both queer and animal rights share a strong colonial footprint; with Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code for the queer rights struggle and the limited protection framework of 'unnecessary suffering' in the colonial-derived Prevention of Cruelty Act, 1956 (which essentially follows the logic of the 1890 law of the same name). Central to both the queer and animal rights struggle is implicit state control over the 'queer' or the 'animal' body. The queer-feminist movement has redefined the right to privacy to now include bodily integrity; an argument we are still far from creating for animals, as sentient beings. Can we extend the recognition of bodily integrity as a right for animals both to be left alone or to be rescued from harmful situations? The Queer movement has been essentially about looking beyond LGBT rights towards caste, religion and economic inequality. How do we extend the queer movement to animal rights, and recognise the inherent speciesism bias in the social movements across by drawing a parallel with the suffering of animals? Can we imagine a co-existence as a queer zoopolis?

Alok Hisarwala is an independent lawyer, activist and researcher working on LGBT and animal rights. Alok has practised as a civil liberties lawyer in the Bombay High Court for over ten years working on cases of police excesses against religious minorities. He has written widely on section 377 of the IPC that criminalised homosexuality in India (Economic and Political Weekly; Human Rights Watch) and was part of the legal challenge against it. Alok co-edited Law Like Love with Arvind Narrain (Yoda Press 2011), where a wider queer politics was imagined. Alok is now also engaged with animal rights issues, guided by this idea of a wider queer politics. Currently, he is working on an Animal Cruelty Report for All Creatures Great and Small (ACGS) and the Federation of Animal Protection Organisations in India (FIAPO), looking at companion and captive-working animals, and human-wildlife conflict. Alok is also researching an Indian argument for animal rights rooted both in the Indian Constitution and the Indian history of social movements.

Date and Time: 3rd September 2019 (5 pm to 6.30 pm)

Venue: Old Conference Hall, TISS, Mumbai

Dr Krithika Srinivasan, Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Edinburgh, will chair the session.

Looking forward to your presence and participation.