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.
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.
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
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.
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.)