Mumbai, January 21: The first and only  radio taxi service for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community, was launched from the city on Wednesday. In a big leap for providing respectable jobs to the LGBT community, the cab service will have cars chauffeured by the members, who were only engaged in entertaining crowds at weddings and other occasions by singing and dancing. The initiative has been flagged off by the  Wings Travels and Humsafar Trust and is expected to start functioning from 2017.

The service was flagged off with five volunteer members from The Humsafar Trust, an LGBT rights organisation, signing up to drive the radio cabs. All five will now apply for a learner’s license and will undergo training to obtain their All India Driver’s Licence. During the nine to 12 months it takes to obtain a license, they will also undergo etiquette training. Arun Kharat, founder-director of Wings Travels and Management (India) said that idea behind this initiative is to eventually help LGBT members to become independent entrepreneurs. Also Read: High time to throw away Section 377 from Constitution, says LGBT activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi

“We want to ensure that the LGBT community in India enjoys the same rights and livelihood opportunities in India as their counterparts in the West”, Kharat told The Hindu. Pallav Patankar, programme director at Humsafar Trust, hopes to see higher participation from the hijra community. “After the NALSA (National Legal Services Authority) judgment, several business houses came forward to offer employment to the transgender and sexual minority community. In the current batch, we have two members of the hijra community, but we hope that more members of the hijra and transgender community will come forward”, he told The Hindu.