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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 8, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 6
Gay Pride celebrated in India
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Gay Pride celebrated in India

Thousands march in Mumbai and Hyderabad

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Thousands of Indians marched for LGBT rights in Mumbai on February 2 and in Hyderabad the next day.

According to Gay Star News, 2,000 people marched in Mumbai in the fifth annual Queer Azaadi Pride march. 'Azaadi' means 'freedom' in Hindi, and the march climaxes a month of LGBT performances and parties. The event has been held regularly since 2008, with Mumbai's first Pride march dating back to 2005.

This year, the focus was on defending the 2009 Delhi High Court decision to decriminalize Gay sex, which some elements in the Indian government want to overturn.

'Today we March! Pride is here!' march organizer Pallav Patankar posted on Facebook. 'I march as a Queer citizen of the world's largest democracy to let people know that even I exist!'

'More young people come up on stage and speak about their sexuality, and we also had straight allies come up on stage and support us,' Patankar told Gay Star News.

The march began at August Kranti Maidan (August Revolution Ground), where Gandhi delivered his historic 'Quit India' speech in 1942. Winding through the city, the march returned to its starting point for a rally.

FEWER HIDE THEIR FACES
This year's event was also notable in that fewer people in the parade wore masks to avoid being identified, The Times of India reported.

'It shows that people are gaining confidence,' LGBT rights activist Ashok Row Kavi told the newspaper.

Queer Azaadi organizers had to petition Mumbai traffic control officials after authorities initially refused to grant permission for them to march on the streets. Five march organizers reportedly met with the Joint Commissioner of Traffic Police, who eventually issued a march permit.

Hyderabad police also refused initially to issue a permit for that city's Pride march, but organizers finally obtained their OK late last month.

'Such rallies are important for our community members because it provides us an opportunity to raise big issues impacting LGBT community,' Hyderabad march organizer Andy Silveira told reporters for The Hindu newspaper during the march.

'There is a need for the society to seriously consider same-sex marriages in India. This will definitely help stop discrimination [against] LGBT members.'

Unlike Mumbai, India's most populous city, this was Hyderabad's first Pride march. The cities of Bangalore, Calcutta, Chennai, and Delhi also hold annual Pride events.

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