SCOHD stands for Sahodaran Community Oriented Health Development. Sahodaran, which means brother in Malayam, one of South India’s official languages, wants to be a safe space for people of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi and transgender) and MSM (men who has sex with men) community. SCOHD was formed in 1998 in Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu, India and has since then worked for LGBT and MSM rights in this area. Since the LGBTs and MSMs are exposed and discriminated groups in India, SCOHD operates as a safe space in Pondicherry where these individuals can feel secure and accepted.
The issues for LGBTs and MSMs in India are multiple: you face both social injustices, refused health care and sometimes even legal discrimination. SCOHD works as a supporting association for LGBTs and MSMs, providing health promotion and education for these vulnerable groups. Since these groups have very little chance of proper health care, SCOHD offers health counseling and treatment as well as counseling concerning mental health and well-being. Further, SCOHD promotes education both for their own members and the rest of the community as well as offering skill-building training and performing human rights campaigns.
On an daily basis, SCOHD is offering family counseling, HIV/AIDS and psycho-sexual counseling with follow-up sessions, free condoms and lubricants for safer sex, legal aid counseling, protection against domestic, physical and homophobic violence, skill-building for members as well as being a place you can just come and talk, meet like-minded and be yourself. In the near future SCOHD hopes to extend their activities by offering shelter for those LGBTs that need a roof over their head. SCOHD also wants to fight discrimination in the workplace by setting up a factory where their members can be offered work together with others. This will provide them with both a possibility to earn a livelihood as well as feel accepted and safe where they work.
SCOHD’s long-term goal is justice and equality for all, changing the way the Indian community views this minority group while empowering its members to feel more comfortable being themselves. This is being achieved through education and workshops with both LGBTs as well as the rest of the community.
SCOHD is more than just a health clinic: it is a place for free expression, support and education.