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
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Recommended APA Citation
Maji, S., Singh, T., Hooda, M., & Sarika, K. (2023). “As If I Use a Filter, and It Has Become a Part of Me”: Discriminatory Workplace Experiences of Lesbian and Gay Employees of India. The Qualitative Report, 28(6), 1741-1758. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2023.5928