Straights to also join capital’s first gay parade Sunday (Lead)

June 23rd, 2008 - 8:44 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) Celebrating their pride in their sexuality, gays in the national capital will, for the first time, march through the heart of the city Sunday to proclaim they needed to be treated as normal human beings. Transsexuals and some straights will also be part of the parade, called “Queer Pride”, with similar marches being conducted June 29 in Kolkata and Bangalore as well.

An annual global event, the pride march would simultaneously be conducted in 20 cities across the world, writer and activist Gautam Bhan said.

“The whole programme was planned only two weeks ago when friends from Kolkata contacted me and discussed about the pride march,” Bhan told IANS.

“We then started getting in touch with people in Delhi and the response from gays as well as straights has been quite encouraging,” he added.

” ‘Queer Pride’ is a celebration. It is about loving who we are, whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, ‘hijra’ or straight, and affirming everyone’s right to be respected for his or her own sexual choices,” Bhan pointed out.

“It is a celebration of how far we have come and how long we still have to go,” he maintained.

The parade would begin at 5.30 p.m. Sunday from Regal Building at Connaught Place.

“We will gather at the Regal cinema at the Connaught Place Outer Circle, then parade our pride along the Inner Circle, through Central Park, down Janpath and right to Jantar Mantar, where we will celebrate by singing, making speeches and conducting a candlelight vigil,” Bhan said.

The activists are inviting everyone to be a part of the parade and are busy appealing people through blogs and e-mails to join in. The activists are also fundraising for the event.

“If anyone wants to be out on the street and yet under cover, they would be provided masks to cover faces or they can bring something along themselves,” Lesley A. Esteves, a journalist, told IANS.

Talking about their right not to be discriminated against, Bhan said: “It is all about human rights. We call India greatest democracy in the world and keep our head high in Southeast Asia. But we are far less progressive than our neighbours such as Nepal and Sri Lanka.”

“We should learn from Nepal, which in its new constitution has cleared that no one would be discriminated against on basis of sexuality.”

“The march would help in instilling a feeling of protection among those who do not want to come out in the open,” he added.

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