NEW DELHI: Hundreds of gay rights activists danced to drum beats and held colorful balloons as they marched in a parade in New Delhi yesterday, celebrating what they call the diversity of gender and sexuality.
Organizers said that while the gay pride parade celebrated the gains India's LGBT community has made in recent years, they also wanted to highlight the continuing discrimination it faces.
The Delhi Queer Pride Committee also demanded the repeal of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes homosexual acts. Over the past decade, homosexuals have gained a degree of acceptance in parts of deeply conservative India, especially in big cities. Many bars have gay nights, and some high-profile Bollywood films have dealt with gay issues.
Still, being gay is seen as shameful in most of the country, and many homosexuals remain closeted.
Yesterday, Harsh Aggarwal, who runs a digital marketing company in New Delhi, said that there has been progress, though it has come slowly. "But it's happening," he said.
"There are more people who are coming out without masks. Society also is respecting us. That's the progress," he said. Activists had cheered in 2009 when the New Delhi High Court declared Section 377 of the Penal Code unconstitutional. But the judgment was overturned four years later when India's Supreme Court decided that amending or repealing Section 377 should be a matter left to Parliament, not the judiciary. -AP