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Mission Statement

14 Aug

What is Qashti?

Qashti is a queer and feminist collective of lesbian, bisexual, trans*, queer and intersex/intergender (LBTQI) people assigned female at birth. Through organizing a wide variety of social events and running an LBTQI-focussed helpline we work to build an intentional social space and resource center for LBTQI people. Qashti was founded in 2011 and is based in New Delhi.  


Qashti is an intersectional feminist social space and resource center for lesbian, bisexual, trans*, queer and intersex/intergender (LBTQI) people assigned female at birth. We are a collective of LBTQI people that bring attention to the specific complexities of LBTQI life in India. We seek to create an alternative platform to rights-based activism, in order to make room for LBTQI community-building, wellness and play. As a group, we aim to enact a feminism that learns from other social justice movements such as anti-caste movements, trans- and sex workers’ movements, in India and globally. We seek to serve our LBTQI communities reflectively and responsibly.

Guiding Principles

As a collective, Qashti’s work is guided by certain principles through which we link our activities and vision to larger questions of social and economic justice:

  • Collective functioning. Qashti is dedicated to collective action and decision-making. This is with the awareness that LBTQI people have not historically had, and do not currently have, access to institutional spaces. We work as a collective and share our resources in order to enhance the sustainability and self-sufficiency of LBTQI communities.
  • Queer and feminist practice. We recognize the urgent need for an intersectional queer and feminist practice that challenges patriarchy and the multiple ways it affects us as LBTQI people in India. However, we are also mindful of feminism’s and the queer movement’s own entanglements with nationalism and caste, class and gender hierarchies. Hence, we seek to further discussions on and create LBTQI spaces that cut across these differences. To this end, we aspire to make meaningful connections with other social justice movements (specifically the Dalit, trans, and sex workers’ movements), and hold ourselves and our work accountable to their critical perspectives.
  • LBTQI. Qashti is a space dedicated to lesbian, bisexual, trans*, and queer people assigned female at birth. While we recognize that not all trans* people identify as female-born, we use that term to indicate that we exist as a source of support for those people who were/are seen and socialized as female. We aim to address the unique issues faced by such people both in larger society and in the national LGBT movement. The legal battle for decriminalization of homosexuality, as well as the NGO funding to combat AIDS in India, have led to a focus on gay male or MTF lives. Qashti sees the need to create a space for the people who were not historically granted access to these resources, but who face their own considerable battles with misogyny, homophobia and transphobia.

    To be clear – At this point, Qashti’s membership only includes people assigned female at birth, but we are committed to fighting misogyny and gender-based discrimination across identities. Thus we seek to be supportive allies to the empowerment of transwomen, MTFs, genderqueer, hijra and kothi communities in India and globally.

  • Funding. So far, Qashti has been supported financially by the LBTQI community we are a part of. We use funds for our events and meetings and to operate our volunteer-run helpline. We are committed to remaining independent, non-corporate and non-politically funded, so that we can make the needs of our community, and not the needs of our funders, our only priority.
  • Sex-positive. In the current context of increased government censorship, we are committed to creating a judgment-free space that celebrates LBTQI sexualities. We are a sex-positive group that supports everyone’s right to access, practice and speak about their bodies, sex and desires. We understand that LBTQI sexual liberation is tied up with the liberation of other criminalized groups. We stand in support of sex-workers’ rights to live without stigma and violence, and to work for fair pay.

Qashti uses these principles as touchstones to guide our decisions about what causes and activities we put our efforts towards. We aim to work with and learn from others who share our commitment to these principles.