First Pride Parade After Decriminalization Of Section 377

On Saturday, thousands of people gathered at August Kranti Maidan for Mumbai’s first pride parade after homosexuality has been decriminalized. It also marked the culmination of ‘Mumbai Pride Month’ which had started on January 5. From August Kranti Maidan, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community took out ‘Pride March’ through the city streets.

An equal rights activist, Harish Iyer came on the stage amidst thundering applause, whistles and lots of happy vibrant faces and wishes of ‘Happy Pride’ as some hugged each other or were locked in long embraces.

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Although he was delighted to see the kind of support being extended to the community in general, Harish knows all too well that it’s only half the battle won. 

Harish Iyer says, “We have won the battle on Section 377, but there are many more to be won. We are not going to stop until we share equal rights with the heterosexuals. I don’t see why rights accorded to the heterosexual community should be denied to the homosexual community. Anti-discrimination laws have to be put in place. Also, the right to adopt should be put in place. Researches done in the West have proved that we are as good as straight people when it comes to parenting. By decriminalizing section 377 we have just put just one nail in this discriminatory coffin. There are many more that we need to hammer in and shut it once and for all.” 

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Approximately 15,000 people joined the pride march on Saturday evening. “We have so many people who have gathered, it fills my heart with immense pride,” said Ashok Row Kavi of Humsafar Trust, which along with Central Railways, Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society and Mumbai District AIDS Control Society is responsible for Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus being lit in rainbow colours.

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Ishaan Sethi, a founder of a dating app called Delta for the community members, and one of the organisers of Saturday’s march, said the event was significant this year as it was the first after the reading down of section 377 of the IPC.

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“The country’s largest pride march, Mumbai Pride, is extra special this year since it is the first major pride celebration since the reading down of section 377. Mumbai Pride 2019 is a celebration of true independence for the Indian LGBT community,” he said.

Suresh Ramdas, Mr Gay India 2019, said, “Coming from Bangalore for my first Mumbai Pride March, I’m excited and proud to walk this pride parade celebrating my identity and the first step towards freedom post-Sec 377 being struck down. We have a lot more work to do, and as Mr Gay India 2019, I would like to inspire and motivate people to be their authentic self.”

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, goodwill ambassador of non-profit organisation AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said on this occasion, “Homosexuality has existed in our country since the bygone era and we also find evidence of the same in our mythology, culture, literature, art and tradition. It’s important for society to realize that no amount of stigmatization and discrimination will stop the queer community from fighting for and securing their rights.”

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As the section 377 of IPC is under judicial review (in the Supreme Court), “hopefully the future shall hold some positive outcomes,” he said.

Bollywood singer Sona Mahapatra also went on stage and sang her single, Bekhauf. The LGBT community in Mumbai organised several events during the Pride month, ranging from film screenings, plays, drag shows, rainbow kite flying and street performances.

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Let’s hope that many more pride parades being organized all over the India and people become more open to understand and accept the LGBTQ community.

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