Mumbai’s First Gay Parade
A few days after the Health Minister spoke about legalizing Homosexuality and Prostitution in the country and a month after India’s first Gay Pride Parade, although the community did not participate in India, the community participated in the cities first parade.
The main reason was to abolish the Section 377 of the Indian penal code which outlaws “unnatural sexual offences” and theoretically punishes anal or oral sex with up to 10 years in prison, it was established by the British in the 19th century.
The community also demanded an apology from the British for creating the law putting together facts that the earlier Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist communities were much more compassionate to same sex relationships than the British who exported homophobia during the 19th century when they enforced their Victorian laws and morals here.Although it is rarely enforced, section 377 has forced Mumbai’s gay and lesbian community to exist underground. But more importantly Vikram Doctor, one of the parade organizers, said, “It’s the fear of the law that matters more than the law itself. It’s a blackmail racket.” It is common for the local law enforcers to extort money on these basis here in India.
Organizers expected around 200 people to turn out in support, but over 500 people pleasantly surprised not only the organizers but the onlookers who were given pamphlets and rainbow flags. Rainbow cloaked marchers chanted slogans like “Closets are for clothes” in Hindi, Gujarati and English. They sang, danced and played drums as people watched from sidewalks and balconies.
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