“I am gay, that’s ok! I am lesbian, that’s ok!” These and similar such slogans reverberated on Pune’s two busy streets that pass through Deccan during the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride March held on Sunday. Its theme: Inclusivity in the workplace. It was the sixth edition of the march and the response was soaring despite heavy rain trying its best to play spoilsport.
“Raining or not, I would not have missed the walk,” said 31-year-old Ron, an employee at the call centre. For Ron and others at the March, standing in solidarity with fellow LGBT community members was more important to seek a discrimination-free environment in the workplace and in society.
The parade started from Sambhaji park on JM road in the morning, where participants holding rainbow flags, mask, banners and posters began walking.
Participants at the Pune Pride Walk said members of LGBT community face harassment because of their sexual orientation.
To express unity with the LGBT community and support their cause, representatives of corporate giants like IBM, Symantec and Thoughtworks participated in the walk. Dwight Cook, representing Symantec, said, “This is the first time the company has representation in the Pune march through company’s banner. Symantec through this participation would like to give out a message that we support inclusivity at the workplace.” Like Cook, who is part of the community, Naina Udupi, a transwoman representing Thoughtworks, came all the way from Bangalore to attend the march.
The 2015 pride walk was centered around the transgender community’s inability to express themselves sexually because of section 377.
“Through this march, we would like to give out a message that as more and more lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgenders come out openly, companies should have proactive initiatives and establish a non-discrimination policy at the workplace so that an LGBT friendly environment is created,” said Bindumadhav Khire, president of the Samapathik Trust, which organises the march every year.
Vaishali Gunakikar of IBM said, “Many companies have come forward to ensure a harassment-free workplace for its employees, irrespective of their sexual orientation. IBM, which has always stood for inclusivity for LGBTs, has decided to stand in solidarity with this community.”
What stood out in the march was that it had participants of all ages, not necessarily a part of the LGBT community. “I am not LGBT. I have come here to extend my support to the community since I have witnessed discriminator treatment to them in the society,” said Mahima, a student of liberal arts from Symbiosis.
The march concluded with a song – hum honge kaamyab, hum honge kaamyam ek deen mann me pur hai vishwas, hum honge kaamyam ek deen – a fervent hope that members of the community will one day be treated as equals .