Post submitted by Tushar M, HRC Global Engagement Fellow

india map, gujaratAmidst the heated environment of the upcoming Prime Ministerial elections in 2014, the state of Gujarat in west India held its first pride parade ever. A very conservative state that has strong “family-value” morals and traditions, Gujarat has been the bed of controversy since the early 90s, especially regarding prolonged anti-Muslim hatred.

Held in Surat, known as the diamond capital of the world, the Pride parade took place on October 6th and saw around 200 participants coming out carrying rainbow flags and other Pride paraphernalia. Many revelers were seen wearing scarves and masks to protect their identity, giving an idea of acceptance levels in the conservative state. The parade was particularly significant, as Gujarat is considered a Hindutva (right-wing Hindu religious) stronghold and is the home-state of controversial right-wing politician and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, who is currently banned from entering the United States due to his role in the violent Hindu-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002.

“Gay parades do make a difference in spreading the message about the presence of an LGBT community and its rights,” added Manvendra Singh Gohil, a prince of the former princely state of Rajpipla in Gujarat, who is considered the face of Gujarat’s gay community and is the only open member of a royal family in India. “But a true gay pride parade would be possible only after the Supreme Court issues a verdict in our favor,” reports The Diplomat.

Participants demanded the same rights to opposite-sex couples, equal social acceptance in society, and the “removal of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (that criminalizes same-sex sexual acts), as well as legalization of same-sex marriages.” Another major demand put forth was allowing adoption of children by LGBT couples, reports DNA India, a major newspaper. It was also announced that the LGBT community will hold another parade in Ahmedabad, the biggest city in Gujarat, in December 2013.

The Gujarati diaspora is widespread across the world, with the second largest population of Gujaratis outside of India being in the United States of America.

Filed under: International

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