Ashok Row Kavi

Ashok Row Kavi

Journalist & Founder - Chairperson - Humsafar Trust

Ashok Row Kavi is an Indian journalist and one of India's most prominent LGBTQ rights activists. In a journalism career spanning 18 years, he worked in various newspapers and magazines, including India's largest circulated newspaper Malayala Manorama (as Western India Bureau-Chief), The Free Press Journal, The Daily and Indian Express. Besides he started India's first Playboy clone "Debonair' with his English friend Antony van Braband and worked on several prize winning stories like the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and Ambedkar's controversial book, 'Riddles of Rama'

In 1990, he founded Bombay Dost, India's first gay magazine. This was after attending the Fifth International AIDS Conference in Montreal in 1989. He has presented papers in over five International AIDS Conferences starting with Amsterdam and worked for five years as national program officer in UNAIDS, Delhi, where he oversaw the Strategy Plan for gay men to access public health services in The National AIDS Control Program (NACP-4).

Since 1990, he has worked at providing a formal platform for homosexuals to become actively involved in public life and institutions through media, advocacy, co-operation and community-building. Row Kavi was the first person to openly talk about homosexuality and gay rights in India in 1984 where he talked about the "gay construct" and the hidden world of Men-Having-Sex-With-Men(MSM) and male born sexual minorities like hijras..

At the present, he is founder-chairperson of the Humsafar Trust, an LGBTQ rights and health services NGO in Mumbai metro, which also agitates for the legal emancipation of homosexuality in India. The Trust's work comprises community work, outreach into the gay and MSM groups, advocacy on gender and sexuality issues concerning sexual minorities and research into sexuality and gender issues. Besides running several intervention programmes (funded by national and international organisations and private donors) for HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections in Mumbai and Goa, Row Kavi and the Trust have been lobbying with policy making bodies as well as supporting similar upcoming groups across the country.