New Delhi: India’s first radio taxi service for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community, Wings Rainbow, was flagged off on Wednesday. The initiative by Wings Travels and Humsafar Trust will have taxis chauffeured by LGBT community members, and is expected to start functioning in 2017. On Wednesday, five volunteers from The Humsafar Trust, an LGBT rights organisation, signed up to drive radio cabs.
Under the pilot programme, five members of the gay and transgender community will apply for a learner’s licence, and complete their training in getting the All India Driver’s Licence.
During the nine to 12 months it takes to get the permanent driving licences, they will also undergo customer etiquette training.
“We want them to be eventual entrepreneurs and own these vehicles,” said Arun Kharat, founder-director of Wings Travels and Management (India).
“We want to ensure that the LGBT community in India enjoys the same rights and livelihood opportunities in India as their counterparts in the West.”
Pallav Patankar, programme director at Humsafar Trust, said, “After the NALSA (National Legal Services Authority) judgment, several business houses came forward to offer employment to the transgender and sexual minority community. In the current batch, we have two members of the hijra community, but we hope that more members of the hijra and transgender community will come forward.”
In groundbreaking judgment in the NALSA vs Union of India case, the Supreme Court had affirmed the constitutional rights and freedoms of transgenders.
Mr Kharat said Wings Travels currently operates approximately 5,500 radio taxis in nine cities including Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, and Chandigarh.
“While the first five are trained, we will continue enrolment from the LGBT community up to 1,500 people across all nine cities,” he said.