Wings Travels and Humsafar Trust have launched Wings Rainbow, a radio taxi service for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community in Mumbai, reports The Hindu. Wings Rainbow will employ members of the LGBT community to drive the taxis, but will only start functioning next year, according to the report.

Wings Travels claims to have 5,500 radio taxis in 9 cities like Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, and Chandigarh. It plans to have 1,500 people employed under Wings Rainbow across all 9 cities. In the pilot program, 5 members will apply for a learner’s license and complete training to get the All India Driver’s Licence. Drivers will get a permanent driving license in 9-12 months, during which time they will also be trained on customer etiquettes.

The report quoted Pallav Patankar, program director at Humsafar Trust as saying that several businesses had approached the trust to offer employment to the transgender and sexual minority community after the Supreme Court ruled (in 2014) that transgender should be recognised as the third gender. The SC judgment added that the verdict was pertinent only to eunuchs and not members of the lesbian, gay and bisexual community, who are sometimes considered transgender.

MediaNama’s take:
This move is progressive, despite the fact that the country has a long way to go when it comes to LGBT rights. Alternatively, I also think that the more exclusive services we offer, the more divisive our stand on issues gets. Wings Rainbow proves that there’s absolutely no harm in taking baby steps towards a more inclusive nation, disabilities included. It would be nice if every day cab companies would train their drivers to be more accepting of the LGBT community (and offer the same etiquette), because at the end of the day, people who identify themselves as LGBT are no different from heterosexual human beings.

Other inclusive developments:

– Last month, online cab aggregator Uber launched UberASSIST, a service which provided additional assistance for the differently abled and senior citizens, in its UberX service in Delhi. This service was already live in some of Uber’s other markets worldwide, and the company plans to launch this service in other cities in India soon.

– In October, the Odisha Police launched an e-FIR system under the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems project, which would allow the citizens in the state to file their complaints online across 531 police stations in the state. Users who signed up for the service were also provided with a ‘transgender’ option under the gender tab. Odisha Police FTW!

– In June, the government launched a website for job seekers and employers in the micro, small and medium enterprises sector (MSMEs) to provide job listings in the manufacturing sector for both. Like Odisha Police’s e-FIR system, users signing up for the service were also given the option to identify as a transgender person.