Title Legalizing Sex
Subtitle Sexual Minorities, AIDS, and Citizenship in India
Author Chaitanya Lakkimsetti
ISBN 9781479826360
List price USD 30.00
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price
Binding Paperback
No of pages 208
Book size 153 x 229 mm
Publishing year 2020
Original publisher New York University Press (Combined Academic Publishers)
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, .
Status New Arrival
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“A compelling, well-written, and insightful analytical narrative of the role of HIV/AIDS in shaping the landscape of sexual politics in India. By bringing together the often disparately understood constituencies of LGBTQ+ and sex workers, the book contributes to understanding the synergies as well as the differences between their political mobilizations.”

Sharmila Rudrappa, author of Discounted Life: The Price of Global Surrogacy in India


“A thrilling read that imparts substantial wisdom about the perils and windfalls social movements experience when they approach the postcolonial state for rights and recognition. Lakkimsetti’s engaging prose immerses readers in the gripping real-life dilemmas that Indian gender and sexual minority and sex worker rights activists have faced. Unlike other books that critique activists for falling into the predatory state’s ‘trap,’ this book refreshingly suspends this antagonistic narrative in favor of one that foregrounds the complex strategic decisions that activists make.”

Ashley Currier, author of Politicizing Sex in Contemporary Africa: Homophobia in Malawi


How the rise of HIV in India resulted in government protections for gay groups, transgender people, and sex workers

This original ethnographic research explores the relationship between the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the rights-based struggles of sexual minorities in contemporary India. Sex workers, gay men, and transgender people became visible in the Indian public sphere in the mid-1980s when the rise of HIV/AIDS became a frightening issue. The Indian state started to fold these groups into national HIV/AIDS policies as “high-risk” groups in an attempt to create an effective response to the epidemic. Lakkimsetti argues that over time the crisis of HIV/AIDS effectively transformed the relationship between sexual minorities and the state from one that was focused on juridical exclusion to one of inclusion. The new relationship then enabled affected groups to demand rights and citizenship from the Indian state that had been previously unimaginable. By illuminating such tactics as mobilizing against a colonial era anti-sodomy law, petitioning the courts for the recognition of gender identity, and stalling attempts to criminalize sexual labor, this book uniquely brings together the struggles of sex workers, transgender people, and gay groups previously studied separately. A closely observed look at the machinations behind recent victories for sexual minorities, this book is essential reading across several fields.


Introduction: Contemporary Politics of Sex

Chapter 1. “HIV Is Our Friend”

Chapter 2. Challenging “Bare Life”

Chapter 3. Empowered Criminals

Chapter 4. Tolerable Identities, Intolerable Sex Acts

Chapter 5. Interconnected Rights


Appendix A. Abbreviations

Appendix B. Timeline for Anti-Sodomy-Law Contestations




About the Author

About the Author:

Chaitanya Lakkimsetti is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies at Texas A&M University.

Target Audience:

People interested in LGBTQ studies and gender studies.


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