LGBT rights

In addition to decrying the Orlando massacre, why not work to decriminalise homosexuality in India?

The Islamic State and the American Right both encourage LGBTQ hatred. India should not.

It is far too early for us to understand what motivated Omar Mateen to allegedly walk into a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida with an assault rifle and kill 50 people. Authorities claim Mateen called the police before the attack and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Mateen's father thinks he might know why his son picked that particular nightclub: He told NBC News that Mateen had been enraged by the sight of two men kissing each other months earlier, and said that might be related to the massacre.

Even with those indicators, we don't know yet if it was indeed homophobia that inspired the worst mass shooting in American history. Yet, as Equality Florida pointed out in a statement, gay clubs – starting with Stonewall Inn in New York – have long been integral to the LGBTQ rights movement.

"Gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history. They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific attack strikes directly at our sense of security."

Indeed, even if the motive hasn't been established, the attacks are likely to have the effect of turning gay clubs into targets, and leaving some in the LGBTQ community afraid to go to them. Even with America's horrible record of mass shootings – there have been more than 130 this year alone – the fact that the deadliest one in its history took place at a gay club is hard to ignore.

If it is indeed homophobia that motivated the attack, as Mateen's father has suggested, it has not emerged in a vacuum. The Islamic State, to which Mateen allegedly pledged allegiance before carrying out the attack, betrays horrific intolerance towards people from the LGBTQ community in Muslim societies around the world.

But Mateen himself didn't grow up in a Muslim society. He was born in New York and surely has been witness to the evolution of the LGBTQ rights movement over the last few decades. Although great advances have been made on this front, with the Barack Obama administration in particular putting its weight behind legalising gay marriage, the debate has also included the rancorous atmosphere that the American religious Right has helped create.

Organisations like the Westboro Baptist Church, famous for holding public protests proclaiming "God hates fags", were encouraged by members of the Republican Party, who have sought to portray the LGBTQ community as sinful deviants.

This is one of many matters on which right-wing Americans and Islamic fundamentalists can actually make common cause, and the presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump continues in that long tradition of encouraging hatred towards the gay community.

Meanwhile, over in India, the condemnations follow a much more straightforward script without acknowledging the important LGBTQ dimension to the attack.

Indian politicians and others in public life condemn the massacre with the same global sentiments that come up after every mass shooting in America, most commonly a sense of disbelief that one of the most developed nations on Earth still has not figured out how to control guns.

While condemnation and solidarity is important, there is an even more empowering response to the horrific attacks that would represent a truly appropriate reaction: Working to strike down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

The Orlando shooting has given people of the LGBTQ community a reason to fear going to a gay club in case it were to be attacked. With India, that fear is built-in, because gay sex is still illegal. Section 377, a colonial law that criminalises "unnatural sex", remains on the books in India. Although it is barely enforced, the very fact of its existence gives people and authorities an easy excuse to harass those from the LGBTQ community. What better way to say that India is hostile to gay people than by saying their way of life is criminal?

Efforts have been made to get rid of 377. In 2009, a landmark judgment saw the Delhi High Court striking down parts of the section, thereby decriminalising consenting homosexual sex between two adults. Four years later, however, the Supreme Court overturned this verdict, saying that only Parliament can alter such a law, not the courts.

Just last year Congress Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor was prevented from even introducing a Bill attacking Section 377 in Parliament. Politicians from across the spectrum have made noises suggesting support for the LGBTQ community but the lack of numbers and opposition to Tharoor's Bill made it clear that the political class either doesn't consider the issue important enough or is afraid of the fallout of striking down 377.

For all those who complain about toothless slacktivism and a cycle of endless violence that results in condemnations and little else, the Orlando attacks remind us of a far-too-real injustice that India continues to perpetrate by keeping a bigoted law on its books. It may not mean much for the families of those whose lives were lost in Orlando, but every such attack is a reminder that India can do much more to ensure the safety of those who have been turned into targets far away.

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When intrapreneurship can lead to patient centric innovation

Hospitals can also encourage a culture of intrapreneurship within the organization. According to Meena Ganesh, this would mean building a ‘listening organization’ because as she says, listening and being open to new ideas leads to innovation. Santosh Desai, MD& CEO - Future Brands Ltd, who was also part of the panel discussion, feels that most innovations are a result of looking at “large cultural shifts, outside the frame of narrow business”. So hospitals will need to encourage enterprising professionals in the organization to observe behavior trends as part of the ideation process. Also, as Dr Ram Narain, Executive Director, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, points out, they will need to tell the employees who have the potential to drive innovative initiatives, “Do not fail, but if you fail, we still back you.” Innovative companies such as Google actively follow this practice, allowing employees to pick projects they are passionate about and work on them to deliver fresh solutions.

Realizing the need to encourage new ideas among employees to enhance patient experience, many healthcare enterprises are instituting innovative strategies. Henry Ford System, for example, began a system of rewarding great employee ideas. One internal contest was around clinical applications for wearable technology. The incentive was particularly attractive – a cash prize of $ 10,000 to the winners. Not surprisingly, the employees came up with some very innovative ideas that included: a system to record mobility of acute care patients through wearable trackers, health reminder system for elderly patients and mobile game interface with activity trackers to encourage children towards exercising. The employees admitted later that the exercise was so interesting that they would have participated in it even without a cash prize incentive.

Another example is Penn Medicine in Philadelphia which launched an ‘innovation tournament’ across the organization as part of its efforts to improve patient care. Participants worked with professors from Wharton Business School to prepare for the ideas challenge. More than 1,750 ideas were submitted by 1,400 participants, out of which 10 were selected. The focus was on getting ideas around the front end and some of the submitted ideas included:

  • Check-out management: Exclusive waiting rooms with TV, Internet and other facilities for patients waiting to be discharged so as to reduce space congestion and make their waiting time more comfortable.
  • Space for emotional privacy: An exclusive and friendly space for individuals and families to mourn the loss of dear ones in private.
  • Online patient organizer: A web based app that helps first time patients prepare better for their appointment by providing check lists for documents, medicines, etc to be carried and giving information regarding the hospital navigation, the consulting doctor etc.
  • Help for non-English speakers: Iconography cards to help non-English speaking patients express themselves and seek help in case of emergencies or other situations.

As Arlen Meyers, MD, President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, says in a report, although many good ideas come from the front line, physicians must also be encouraged to think innovatively about patient experience. An academic study also builds a strong case to encourage intrapreneurship among nurses. Given they comprise a large part of the front-line staff for healthcare delivery, nurses should also be given the freedom to create and design innovative systems for improving patient experience.

According to a Harvard Business Review article quoted in a university study, employees who have the potential to be intrapreneurs, show some marked characteristics. These include a sense of ownership, perseverance, emotional intelligence and the ability to look at the big picture along with the desire, and ideas, to improve it. But trust and support of the management is essential to bringing out and taking the ideas forward.

Creating an environment conducive to innovation is the first step to bringing about innovation-driven outcomes. These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott, which is among the top 100 global innovator companies, is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.