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Photo by Shonal Ganguly / AP
Photo by Shonal Ganguly / AP

India's Queer community holds Pride march in wake of marriage equality defeat
More than two thousand people took part in a Gay pride event in New Delhi, waving rainbow flags and multicolored balloons as they celebrated sexual diversity in India but also raised concerns over the country's restrictive laws.

Dancing to drums and music, the participants walked for more than two hours to the Jantar Mantar area near India's parliament. The annual event comes after the top court refused to legalize same-sex marriages in an October ruling that disappointed campaigners for Queer rights in the world's most populous country.

One of the volunteers organizing this year's event, Noor Enayat, told the Associated Press, "It's not about marriage. It's about equality. Everybody should have the same right, because that's what our constitution says."

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court's five-judge bench heard 21 petitions that sought to legalize same-sex marriage in India.

The justices called for steps to raise awareness among the public about Queer identity and to establish hotlines and safe houses for those who are facing violence. They also urged the state to make sure same-sex couples don't face harassment or discrimination in accessing basic needs, like opening a joint bank account, but stopped short of granting legal recognition to same-sex unions.

In 2018, the top court struck down a colonial-era law that had made Gay sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison and expanded constitutional rights for the Gay community. The decision was seen as a historic victory for Queer rights.

Despite this progress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government resisted the legal recognition of same-sex marriage and rejected several petitions in favor of it. Some religious groups, too, had opposed same-sex unions, saying they went against Indian culture.

According to a Pew survey, acceptance of homosexuality in India increased by 22 percentage points, to 37%, between 2013 and 2019. Same-sex couples, however, often face harassment in many Indian communities, whether Hindu, Muslim, or Christian.

Photo by Eduardo Verdugo AP  

Skepticism greets announcement of Mexican Nonbinary magistrate's cause of death
The lead prosecutor investigating the killing of Jesús Ociel Baena, Mexico's first Nonbinary magistrate, said they were not the victim of a hate crime but instead slain in a razor blade murder-suicide at the hands of their lawyer and model boyfriend, Dorian Herrera.

"It may seem like a not very credible hypothesis to many, but we're being very careful to leave a record and preserve all evidence," Aguascalientes state prosecutor Jesús Figueroa Ortega told local Spanish-language Radio Formula.

Baena was a leading figure in Mexico's Queer community and was granted a special security detail due to having received multiple death threats. Many initially suspected the two men were the victims of a hate crime, but the state prosecutor said all the evidence at the scene, including the wounds to the bodies, pointed to a murder-suicide at the hands of Herrera.

Federal authorities, however, urged caution in the investigation. Félix Arturo Medina, an official with Mexico's Interior Ministry, said that "it's important to not throw out any line of investigation." He said federal officials hoped to coordinate with state authorities to investigate the deaths.

Members of the Queer community greeted the news from investigators with skepticism. Alejandro Brito, director of the Queer rights group Letra S, told the Associated Press that state prosecutors are "loaded with prejudices" against the community.

"In these types of homicides, they always try to disqualify or belittle," Brito said. "These statements that the prosecutor is giving, what they're doing isn't clarifying the acts, they're adding fuel to the fire of these prejudices."

Víctor Espíndola, executive director of the nonprofit Movement for Equality in Mexico, told Courthouse News that the couple had sounded upbeat when they spoke with members of Baena's family that evening. He also disputed Ortega's version of events, suggesting that investigators are jumping to a predetermined conclusion, and called for a federal investigation.

"There is no evidence to support the attorney general's version, because there are no cameras in the house and there were no witnesses," Espíndola said in a phone interview with Courthouse News. "It would appear that they would like to close this case as quickly as possible, so we and several other organizations are calling on the federal attorney general's office to take the case, because what the Aguascalientes attorney general is declaring is not trustworthy."

Baena was an inspirational figure in the Queer community. They were the first to receive a Nonbinary designation on their birth certificate and passport. They were also recently the first to receive a gender-neutral magistrate title, a significant step in the culturally conservative country.