In 2018, the Indian penal code scrapped section 377 and decriminalized consensual homosexuality. However, there exists a significant knowledge gap regarding what extent Indian workplaces have been successful in ensuring a discrimination-free environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) employees. Thus, to address this gap, the current study explored discriminatory workplace experiences encountered by Indian lesbian and gay (LG) employees. The qualitative data has been collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews and analyzed through the thematic analysis method. A hybrid of the inductive and theoretical thematic analysis revealed four themes, that is, subtle discrimination, disclosure dilemmas, dressing and appearance norms, and gender-binary filter. LG employees frequently encounter workplace discrimination in subtle forms (distancing, excluding, commenting behind the back, and dignity-attack). Experiences of discrimination and fear of going through workplace discrimination lead to disclosure dilemmas, that is, a multilayered decision-making process involving strategy formation, risk perception, and fear of discrimination while choosing/ not choosing whether/how/where/when to disclose sexual identity at the workplace. Also, to establish heteronormativity, Indian organizations often maintain strict dress and appearance norms. In addition to these externally employed norms, LG employees use a gender-binary filter to screen their behaviors, gestures, speech (content, tone, pitch), walking, and dressing to confirm they align with the gender binary and to avoid workplace discrimination. Thus, the study shows that in Indian organizations, the workplace experiences of LG employees are far from discrimination-free. The organizations can use the study findings to understand current affairs and develop policies to ensure an inclusive workplace for LG employees.


discrimination, dressing, inclusion, LGBT, thematic analysis, qualitative

Author Bio(s)

Dr Sucharita Maji is an assistant professor of psychology at the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines) Dhanbad, India. Her interest broadly lies in the area of gender and psychology. She works on topics related to “Gender Stereotyping in STEM” and “Gender in Social Psychiatry.” Please direct correspondence to sucharita@iitism.ac.in.

Dr. Tushar Singh obtained his D. Phil in psychology from the University of Allahabad and is currently serving as assistant professor at Banaras Hindu University, India. His research focuses on understanding the miseries of and advocation for the rights of gender and social minorities including but not limited to LGBTQ+, abused women and children. He is also involved in academic administration and is associated with various national and international organizations in various capacities. Please direct correspondence to tusharsinghalld@gmail.com.

Meghna Hooda holds a master's degree in cognitive science from the Humanities and Social Sciences Department, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. They did their bachelor of technology in computer science engineering from SRM University, Delhi NCR Sonipat. The author's primary research includes investigating social, psychological, and cognitive aspects of prejudice towards the LGBTQ+ community. Please direct correspondence to Meghna.Hooda.hcs21@hss.iitd.ac.in.

Kumari Sarika is a budding researcher in the field of gender and sexual orientation minorities-related studies. She holds a relevant academic background in psychology with a master's degree in applied psychology from TISS, Mumbai. Kumari is presently operating as a Doctoral scholar at IIT (ISM) Dhanbad, where she is actively working on projects concerning the well-being of gender and sexual minorities. Kumari's academic experience in the field of mental health and her ongoing training as a researcher (specific to gender and sexual minorities) encourages her to significantly contribute to this project. Please direct correspondence to 22dr0114@iitism.ac.in.

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