This year’s Queer Azaadi Mumbai Pride, the first parade ever since the subcontinent decriminalized gay sex in September 2018, saw 15,000 queer people taking the streets of the capital of Maharashtra, India.
The annual celebration this year, as the organizer, Ankit Bhuptani, said was “very nice” and “fabulous.”
He explained why this year’s pride parade is significant to India’s LGBT community. He said he “was considered a criminal ever since he was born” and that “for the first time, [he] could say [he] was no longer criminal in [his] own country.’ He also declared that this year’s Mumbai march has the biggest turnout ever since the pride march began.
“No one was wearing masks.”
Indian LGBT community used to cover their faces and conceal their identity at Pride parades out of fear of being arrested. The Mumbai gay rights activist pointed out that this year’s march has seen no one wearing a mask of any form for the first time.
“What was surprising is that of all the people attending the event, not a single one was wearing a mask,’ he said.
“Not only activists but everyone at the parade, they could say they were LGBTI without any fear,” he added.
Bhuptani, a known gay rights advocate in India, explained that this year’s Pride saw for the first time how the local community and their straight allies had supported their event.
“Doctor’s associations, teachers, colleges, and education association, Indian and multinational companies were there marching for Pride,” he explained.
This is a significant leap for India’s fight for gay rights and gender equality. In the past Pride events are usual targets of anti-gay groups and many marchers have been arrested. As Bhuptani recalled, the march has had many counterprotesters shouting at them to that ‘homosexuals are going to hell.’ This year, however, no such incident occurred.
“The path to equality doesn’t stop here.” Bhuptani also said. The community has two more battles to fight moving forward and having anti-discrimination laws to protect the LGBT community is the first.
In India, some laws protect minority groups. However, there are no specific laws to protect the LGBTI community against discrimination on the grounds of sexual and gender orientation.
Furthermore, they are also fighting for the rights of transgender and intersex people to be recognized.
“There’s a transgender bill presented at the Parliament of India which is very bad. If passed, it will endanger the identity of trans people,” Bhuptani further said. /apr