Record turnout for gay pride march in Mumbai

Some 5,000 people turned out for the first LGBT pride march in the country held after the Supreme Court in December reinstated a colonial-era law that criminalises gay sex

It was a record turnout for Mumbai’s seventh gay pride parade where some 5,000 people marched from August Kranti Marg to Girgaum Chowpatty on Saturday afternoon, according to organisers.

Pallav Patankar, co-organiser of the parade and director of HIV services at Humsafar Trust, a Mumbai-based LGBT community organisation, told Gay Star News that “Mumbai has woken up to the fact that it has LGBTcitizens” and that members of the LGBT community are now more “hopeful and willing to fight it out by interfacing with politicians and speaking about queer rights” than before.

In 2009 the Delhi High Court declared section 377, a law which criminalises “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and widely interpreted to refer to gay sex, to be unconstitutional. Violation of the law can be punished with up to 10 years in jail.

The Supreme Court in December reinstated a ban on gay sex, saying only parliament could change Section 377 of the penal code.

Ashok Row Kavi who is one of India’s gay rights pioneers said of the record numbers, “This year’s upsurge in numbers is a reflection of the community’s anger and hurt over being recriminalised.”

“If courts think they can brush us off and treat us like sub-humans they need to see how they have ended up giving the movement a shot in the arm instead. This movement will grow and succeed.” He was quoted as saying in India’s DNAnewspaper.

The pride parade was a culmination of the 2-week Queer Azaadi Mumbai festival which included talks, poster-making workshops and social events.

by Sylvia Tan
Source – Gay Star News