Post submitted by Tushar M, HRC Global Engagement Fellow

This weekend, India honored LGBTQ Pride with celebrations across the country, including New Delhi, Bangalore and Pune.
The last Sunday of November is generally earmarked for Pride in these cities owing to better weather conditions than June, the designated International Pride month.
Approximately 1,000 individuals marched in India’s capital, New Delhi, which has hosted Pride celebrations since 2008 - a year before the Delhi High Court decriminalized homosexual activity.

The Delhi High Court’s reading down of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (“Unnatural sex offences” Act) in 2009 implied that consensual homosexual acts were no longer criminal under the Indian Penal Code in New Delhi, and automatically applied to all of India unless challenged by another state. The judgment was then submitted to the Supreme Court of India, which will consider whether to decriminalize consensual same-sex activity across the country. The verdict is expected sometime before the end of the year.

(c) Ashiesh Talwar
Sometime this month, the Supreme Court of India is expected to release its final verdict on the decriminalization of consensual same-sex activity nationwide and the recognition of transgender people as equal citizens.
During the four-hour celebration on Sunday, LGBTQ individuals, alongside their allied families and friends, demonstrated their support for full LGBTQ equality, including the right to record the gender of one's choosing on government documents.
Pride in Bangalore was more political with participants protesting the state government’s recent crackdown on the LGBTQ community.

(c) Abhiram Sridhar
The event brought hundreds of participants from in and around Bangalore, marching with colorful rainbow umbrellas, bright costumes, and shimmery masks – a necessity more than a fashion statement in order to protect their identities. Talking about sex and sexuality in the traditional Indian family is extremely taboo, and patriarchal notions of masculinity, gender, and gender expression have resulted in LGBTQ people facing backlash from family, society, and religious institutions. In many places in India, “honor killings," in which an LGBTQ person is killed by his or her own family, still occur as an attempt to save the “honor” of the family, and many LGBTQ youth are rendered homeless after they come out.

While the law in India is currently neutral regarding LGBTQ people, all these realities make it extremely difficult for people to come out to their families, but the younger generation is more courageous and outgoing. The traditional Indian society is slowly starting to accept LGBTQ people, but coming out is still a difficult task for many living in the traditional family system. With drumbeats and rainbow flags, the crowds at Pride danced and celebrated in the slight drizzle that Bangalore saw yesterday.
It was also Pune’s second pride, which yielded quite a bit positive attention. Policemen handed out roses to the 200 participants who marched on a sunny afternoon yesterday. Pune is the second largest city in Maharashtra state after Mumbai, which holds its Pride events at the end of January, but is more conservative. With a sizeable university-going population, the Pride march was full of young people both  LGBTQ and allied marching together in the name of equal rights and protections under law.

(c) Deepak Kashyap

This year, 17 cities celebrate Pride in India, with Surat Pride the latest addition.

Filed under: International

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