India’s first nationally-coordinated gay parade marches carried out in Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore concluded peacefully yesterday, turning the page to a fresh chapter on queer rights in India. According to the AFP:
In Kolkata in the east, some 400 people took part in the city’s annual Gay Pride parade, drawing curious stares from thousands of onlookers lining the roads to watch the procession.<snip>
In New Delhi, where gays, lesbians and transgendered individuals have never attempted a public march, some 300 people gathered for a two-kilometre walk in the heart of the capital.<snip>
The southern technology hub of Bangalore also saw its first-ever gay pride parade.
As in Kolkata and New Delhi, some of the 600 participants wore masks to conceal their faces while others wore fancy clothes to draw public attention in the cosmopolitan city, home to many Indian and international IT companies.
Activists are trying to change the law which, in addition to the social pressure, is making any kind of change impossible. Maseeh Rahman from the Guardian:
India does not explicitly outlaw homosexuality but under an 1861 penal code enacted by the British colonial government, “carnal intercourse against the order of nature between any man, woman or animal” is punishable by imprisonment up to life. The law is mainly used against paedophiles, but the high-profile arrest of four gay men in 2006 in Lucknow highlighted the fact that across India corrupt police sometimes utilise the law to blackmail and even rape homosexuals. On Wednesday, a Delhi court will begin hearings on a petition by a gay advocacy group demanding that consensual adults be exempted from the 1861 law. Prominent Indians, including novelist Vikram Seth and economist Amartya Sen, have also demanded a change in the law.
More from Al Jazeera English:
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a senior leader of India’s main Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said he opposed the gay activists’ march and called homosexuality “unnatural”.
“I don’t think it will be accepted in our country. Most of the people are traditional people, religious people, and it will not be accepted in Indian culture,” Naqvi said.
Naqvi said BJP supporters did not protest the march because “we are not going to give importance to such behavior”.
This post was originally published in SAJAforum.org.