About Us

Sahodaran Community Oriented Health Development (SCOHD) Society is a non-governmental organization founded in 1998 in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, India. SCOHD aims to address the issues confronting members of the LGTBQ community in south India. It has expanded its scope, now working, with MSM (men who have sex with men) in order to boost sexual health for these marginalized communities and attain human rights across the board. The mission of SCHOD Society is to be a safe space for people of the LGBTQ and MSM community, where individuals can feel comfortable and accepted. This is where the name Sahodaran—or “brother”—originates. SCOHD is more than just an NGO, it is a place for free expression, support, and motivation.


Our story

SCOHD Society is a CBO (Community Based Organization) Network in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry where a group of community members took initiative to address the problems related to the sexual health and human rights of sexual minorities i.e., Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender populations. It is a registered Non-Profit State Level Community based organization managed by and for people with different sexuality. Our objective is to bring these communities together and provide them with skills and services to empower them to protect their sexual health and human rights.


Provide sexual health education, treatment, and support

Provide emotional support

Promote health & well-being

Promote access to justice

Women empowerment

Equal right to employment

Equal right to quality education

End LGBTQ discrimination and hate crime

Hold those who commit hate crimes accountable under law

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development


We want to educate and empower MSMs and transgender people to perform safe sex, and raise awareness of the risk of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as assist those in recovering from STIs. 

We are a non-discriminatory organization community members can turn to in order to feel safe and comfortable with being themselves.

What We Do

SCOHD’s primary activities are to promote positive health and sexual practices, as well as sex education for these vulnerable groups. We educate our community members by having group discussions and classes focusing on improved sexual health behavior and communication skills.

Since the LGBTQ communities are highly discriminated against in India, SCOHD offers psycho-sexual counseling, HIV/AIDS testing, condom distribution, legal aid counseling, skill-building activities to protect against domestic, physical, and homophobic violence, and human rights campaigns.

Long term goals of the organization include offering shelter for those rejected from their families and to fight against workplace discrimination by providing members with both a possibility to earn a livelihood, as well as feel accepted and safe where they work. This can be achieved through skill-building workshops for the LGBTQ community.

Project Aim

Increase the knowledge of STI/HIV/AIDS among the MSM community

Provide early STD screenings and treatment therapy

Spread awareness of our Targeted Intervention Program

Provide classes on safe sex and proper condom use



Section 377

The institutions from British Colonialists still affect the community today in ways that enable discrimination against LGBTQ communities. Since 1835, sexual intercourse between persons of the same sex has been illegal under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Section 377 states that “whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal, shall be punished with [imprisonment for life] or with imprisonment of either description for a term that may extend to ten years, and shall be also liable to a fine…Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse”.

In 2009, Section 377 was contested but did not reach a final verdict by the Indian Supreme Court. This attempt only rendered backlash and reported police brutality and sexual harassment to this vulnerable community.

On September 6th, 2018, The Indian Supreme Court reached a verdict on Section 377 – decriminalizing the act of same sex. This was a monumental moment for India’s LGBTQ community.

Discrimination and hate crimes against the LGBTQ community and MSM individuals still persist today because lawful protections for these communities are missing. There are many reports of harassment and abuse against the community from the general public and the government. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) reports show that police brutality in the form of violent attacks, unlawful arrests, and blackmailing, are common occurrences against the LGBTQ community in India.


In Tamil Nadu, where the SCHOD headquarters are located, “hijras” are recognized legally as a third gender which gives the group some civil rights. It is possible to get a third gender identity recognized in a passport and voting card, but there is no uniform national praxis.

Legal Support

Legal support for the LGBTQ community is still quite unknown. The taboo around this topic unfortunately continues to put LGBTQ individuals at high risk. It is important to remember that while male to male sexual relations are now legal, relationships are still not permitted. This means that men who have sex with men are still not allowed to legally or publicly have a loving relationship. According to both Indian law and societal norms, there is a difference between homosexuality, which would imply a loving relation and men who have sex with men, which would mean a purely sexual relationship.

Currently, sex operations are legal in India but are not funded by the government. Doctors in India are not trained in sex operations, which puts individuals at high risk of infection and complications in the future. Furthermore, doctors who support the LGBTQ community and will do a transition surgery are few and far between. Hence the issue of medical access to this community.

Since 1994, around 40 organizations that work for LGBTQ human rights have appeared. India’s LGBTQ movement is comprised of demonstrations and parades against discrimination and oppression, however numbers of participants still remain low due to fear. During the last few years, film festivals with LGBTQ themes have been held and newspapers and websites for LGBTQ advocacy have started. The first Pride parade in India was first held in Calcutta in 2003 where a hundred persons participated. During the spring of 2009, parades were held in Bangalore, Calcutta and in New Delhi, the first parade held in the capital. The biggest Indian parade was held in January 2011 in Mumbai with 3000 participants.




Sheethal was born and raised in the city of Pondicherry. She attended university in Goa, where she studied engineering. It was during these years, when she truly discovered her transgender identity. After four years of university, Sheethal moved back to Pondicherry where she quickly realized the extent of abuse happening towards members of the LGBTQ community. This realization came to her one evening when she and her friends witnessed a male prostitute being beaten by two assaulters who refused to pay for sexual services. Her discovery was twofold—there were other LGBTQ individuals in Pondicherry and they had no one to turn to for protection. As a result, Sheethal began working with the issue on a grassroots level. She felt that poor and low-income LGBTQ individuals were at greater risk than higher class individuals, because they could not pay for security. Sheethal began arranging group discussions in safe places with members of the LGBTQ community—creating a private and secure place for people like herself. After a survey conducted by the Naz Foundation Trust found that there were openly 286 members of the LGBTQ community, this sparked the idea to create an NGO that will promote equality and safety for the community. Even though her family and friends rejected her because of her transgender identity, Sheethal pursued her goal. SCOHD was created as an official organization in 2003. Click here to read about Sheethal’s impact on the standard protocol in gender care at the Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute (MGMCRI) in Puducherry as reported by the Hindustan Times.