The University of Iowa

Performance and panel discussion with Indian LGBT activist will be held March 2-3

February 25th, 2014

The following performance and panel discussion are free and open to the public and sponsored by the South Asian Studies Program (SASP) in International Programs; the Department of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies; the Department of Theatre Arts; the UI Center for Human Rights; the Women's Resource & Action Center; and the LGBT Resource Center. Download the event poster

Lessons in Drag

Kareem Khubchandani

Lessons in Drag, a performance by LGBT activist Kareem Khubchandani, will be held Sunday, March 2, at 8:30 p.m. at Public Space One, 120 N. Dubuque St. Iowa City. The performance raises issues of gender discipline while exploring South Asian popular culture through anecdotes, monologues, research interviews, stand-up comedy, and dance.  

Kareem Khubchandani is a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at Northwestern University writing a dissertation titled “Ishtyle: Queer Nightlife Performance in India and the South Asian Diaspora.”  He is an activist working with the LGBT South Asian organization Trikone-Chicago, and with the Bangalore Campaign for Sexuality Minorities Rights.  He is also a performance artist working in storytelling, drag, and dance.

Learn more about Lessons in Drag

United Against 377? The Politics of Resistance to India’s Sodomy Law

Spring 2014 South Asian Studies Program Seminar

Khubchandani will also be featured as part of a panel discussion titled “United Against 377? The Politics of Resistance to India’s Sodomy Law” on Monday, March 3, from 4:00-5:30 p.m. in 1117 University Capitol Centre. Aniruddha Dutta and Elakshi Kumar will join this discussion.

In December 2013, the Supreme Court of India reinstated Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC 377), a colonial-era law that criminalizes any ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’. Similar to the ‘sodomy laws’ established in many other parts of the erstwhile British Empire, the law targets certain sex acts rather than any sexual or gender identity. However, the law is widely understood as specifically criminalizing homosexuality, and for many activists as well as the media, it has become a powerful symbol of discrimination against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Indians.

At the same time, other activists have criticized the movement against IPC 377 for ignoring more substantial concerns facing disenfranchised LGBT people such as working class transgender communities, as 377 has been a relatively minor cause of discrimination compared to the quotidian forms of violence and stigma faced by such people.

In this panel discussion, Elakshi Kumar, Kareem Khubchandani and Aniruddha Dutta, three scholar-activists who have several years of experience with Indian LGBT communities and movements, will discuss the politics of the movement against IPC 377.


Aniruddha Dutta is an assistant professor in the departments of Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies and Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Iowa, and is also associated in advisory and voluntary capacities with several community-based organizations for transgender and queer people in eastern India. Dutta’s current research project, “Globalizing through the Vernacular: The Making of Gender and Sexual Minorities in Eastern India”, examines how gender/sexual identity politics in India challenges, reconfigures or reproduces structural hierarchies of class/caste and unequal access to citizenship.

Elakshi Kumar is a PhD candidate at the Dept. of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota. His research examines the complex embodiments and sociocultural articulations of female-masculinities at the intersections of Hindu nationalism, globalization, Queer and lower caste social movements in Indian public culture. He is affiliated with community-based groups like Sampoorna and Qashti, that organize and advocate for trans masculine people in India. He is also an alum of the Brown Boi Project.

Kareem Khubchandani (see above)

These events are part of the SASP seminar series. To see the full schedule, visit

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Sarolta Petersen in advance at 319- 335-3862.