Mumbai: Around 250 members of the LGBTQ community held their annual "pride march” from August Kranti Maidan to Opera House and back, in south Mumbai on Saturday. Such pride marches have been held by the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Trans-Queer community in different parts of the country since 2005, to highlight issues facing them, according to the organisers.
While back then the main agenda was the decriminalisation of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the current demands include inclusion in workplace, education, marriage, adoption rights, protection against abuse and discrimination, they said.
On September 6 last year, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had unanimously decriminalised part of the 158-year-old colonial law under Section 377 of the IPC, which criminalises consensual unnatural sex. The community is also opposing the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 17 last year.
The bill seeks to define transgenders and prohibit discrimination against them. The LGBTQ community has called the bill "derogatory". Ishaan Sethi, founder of a dating app for the LGBTQ community called Delta 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. "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 celebrating my identity and first step towards freedom post Sec 377 being struck down. We have lot more work to do and as Mr Gay India 2019, I would like to inspire and motivate people to be their authentic self."
Zubair Kalsia, marketing professional and queer rights advocate, said, "Since section 377 has been written down, we have seen a lot of brands and people come out in full support of the LGBTQ community. I am sure that Mumbai pride is not going to be any exception to this."