Gay pride rally turns curious heads in Bangalore

June 29th, 2008 - 10:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, June 29 (IANS) On a breezy Sunday afternoon, about 600-700 gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans-genders and their frenzied supporters caused a flutter in India’s IT hub by staging a colourful “pride rally” to observe the Stonewall Riots Day under the watchful eye of a vigilant police. The two-hour rally, flagged off from a city college grounds in upscale Basavangudi suburb, once populated by conservative Brahmins, culminated at Town Hall for a public meeting to the beats of drums, blaring music and a native dance by about 100 activists comprising hijras, kothis (feminine homosexuals) and ‘double-dekkers’ (local term for transsexuals).

About 200 policemen and women tailed the colourful rally along the four-km route to regulate the frenzied activists, including many sporting fancy dresses, masks to hide their faces from glaring eyes and carrying rainbow umbrellas.

Vehicular traffic came to a halt at cross-roads en-route to let the rally pass through and allow crowds on both sides a closer look at the activists, which included a sprinkle of Americans, Europeans and Australians.

“This is the first time a ‘pride rally’ is held in this cosmopolitan city as part of the worldwide movement to observe the Stonewall Riots Day and express solidarity to our fellow sexual minorities,” gay activist Siddharth Narrain of Good As You (GAY) organisation told IANS.

Carrying flags, banners and placards with catchy slogans such as “Love Sees No Gender”, “Repeal Section 377 of IPC” and “We Want Basic Human Rights”, the participants appealed to the people to support their cause and join them to seek equal rights from the government.

“We will not rest till we get rid of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which is a colonial legacy. The draconian law criminalises sex between adults by terming all sexual acts other than penile-vaginal intercourse as against the order of nature,” Narrain told the gathering, even as rain-bearing dark clouds loomed over the horizon at dusk.

Founder of trans-genders organisation Sangama Elavarthi Manohar said the activists have recently filed a case in the Delhi High Court against the central government, demanding repeal of Section 377 of the IPC.

“Though the union home ministry opposed our demand, the health ministry is supportive for repealing the discriminating Section 377. We will go to the Supreme Court if we don’t get justice in the lower court,” Manohar asserted.

The Alternative Law Forum wanted the government to accord choice of gender/sex to people who have undergone sex reassignment surgery and prevent police atrocities against sexual minorities.

Besides the activists, their friends and families and representatives of 11 non-government organisations participated in the procession.

The organsiations were Alternative Law Forum, Aneka, GAY, Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum, Karnataka Sexworkers Union, LesBiT, Sadhane, Samara, Sangama, Suraksha, and Swabhava.

Stonewall Riots Day is observed across the world in support of sexual minorities and to express solidarity with the victims of brutal police raid on Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village of New York way back June 29, 1969. The gays rioted after the raid in protest against constant harassment by the police.

“The Stonewall riots are considered to be the genesis of the sexual minorities’ movement worldwide. Sexual minorities and their allies organise pride events in several cities on the same day (June 29) to celebrate diverse sexuality and gender identities,” Narrain recalled.

Unfavourable laws coupled with stigma, discrimination and social rejection prevent sexual minorities from accessing various social entitlements, including voter ID, ration card, passport, driving license, housing, education, employment, savings and credit facilities, insurance, old age pension and old age shelter homes.

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