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27 Jun 2008

Indian LGBTs march this weekend to protest anti-gay laws

Three cities in India - New Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore - are expected to hold the largest ever display of gay pride in the country as the Delhi High Court is set to resume hearings on India's sodomy law in early July.

Conceived merely weeks ago via email groups, LGBT activists are planning to march, give speeches and have candlelight vigils in New Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore (officially known as Bengaluru) on Sunday.

The Delhi High Court is expected to resume hearing a petition filed by the Naz Foundation, a HIV/AIDS NGO, challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 - which criminalises 'carnal intercourse against the order of nature' - on July 2.

Gautam Bhan, a co-organiser of the march, has been quoted as saying in a NDTV India news report that the aim of the parade is to raise awareness of the issues facing the gay community in India. The Delhi-based gay rights activist and author of Because I Have A Voice added that "response from gays as well as straights has been quite encouraging."

"Pride in India is at a stage where it's not just pure celebration, it's always part protest. A reminder of how difficult things are," he said.

If convicted under Section 377, the laws provide for up to10 years imprisonment.

Although several dozen people have marched in the eastern Indian metropolis of Kolkata first in 1999 then annually since 2003, the parades will be a first for the national capital of New Delhi and southern hi-tech hub Bangalore.

Mumbai, the largest city with an estimated population of thirteen million and commercial centre of India, will not be hosting its own pride parade, as noted by the Times of India.

"It's embarrassing to admit but the truth is that though Mumbai has a strong social scene it has a very weak activist base," says Vikram from Gay Bombay, a gay social group, was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

While homosexuality is generally considered a taboo subject by Indian society, it is gradually becoming more open in urban centres at least. Even, the Delhi edition of Time Out magazine remarkably features a gay and lesbian section and column - in no less explicit terms.

Delhi Queer Pride
We now have a new route and a new meeting point with full police permission and support! New Meeting Point: The Corner of Barakhamba Road and Tolstoy Marg, just south of the Metro station on Barakhamba Road, and in front of the Intercontinental Hotel on Tolstoy Marg. Meeting Time : 5:30pm! March to Jantar Mantar for celebration, singing, speeches and candlelight vigil.
Contact: delhiqueerpride@gmail.com

Rainbow Pride Week, Kolkata (June 24-29, 2008)
Assemble at 3 pm at College Square for Rainbow Pride March to Esplanade East (Metro cinema) for public meeting and media interaction
Contact: pawan30@yahoo.com

Bengaluru (Bangalore) Pride March
Assemble at 2 pm at National College, Basavangudi to march to Puttana Chetty Town Hall for public meeting at 4 pm.
Contact: bengalurupride@gmail.com
More info: bengalurupride.googlepages.com

(Source: Queer Media Collective, a group of professional journalists who aim for a more balanced treatment of queer issues in the Indian media and entertainment industries.)


Reader's Comments

1. 2008-06-28 00:38  
Comment #2 was deleted by its author
3. 2008-06-28 22:01  
4. 2008-06-29 01:52  
It is absolutely phenomenal that this is happening. I cannot even put into words how necessary this is.
5. 2008-06-29 04:07  
Dear News Editor
"Protest" is not a transitive verb.
Please do not fall into this American mistake.
You protest against something.
You can use it transitively in this sense, " I protest my innocence".the innocence being something you bring forward in protest AGAINST an accusation or an unjust state of affairs.
Good English is as precious as freedom at midnight.
6. 2008-06-29 11:00  
Go India.

This is the way to show that you are better than the little red dot nanny state!
7. 2008-06-29 23:06  
Canada and several European countries have legalized civil unions. India is still fighting for "carnal intercourse". What a shame! Hope this hearing will be in favor in equality, not discrimination.
8. 2008-06-30 03:12  
WONDERFUL INDIA!!! Be fearless and come out to PRIDE. I recall the first PRIDE march I helped organize in 1979. Many wore paper sacks over their heads to hide thier faces. I had been a gay activist for 5 years by then and so my boyfriend and I - both a bit amazed as the terror and self-hatred and overwhelming shame that so many held as prime, he and I took the parade banner and walked the front of the march. People thought we might be shot. 30 years later, so much has changed. This year I find PRIDE a bit too corporate - plumbing companies, the big cellualr companies, pharmamcy and supermarket chains all have booths at PRIDE. I miss the acticist smarts and energy of yesteryear. GO OUT AND BE PROUD. You're wondreful to watch - from around the world you make us all proud.
Sending huge waves of loving energy to you.
9. 2008-07-03 14:12  
After reading this, I'm feeling a little ashamed of myself...& my nationality.

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