Delhi awash in rainbow colours as Queer Pride Parade celebrates identity, freedom

Updated on Nov 26, 2018 12:42 PM IST

Dancing, smiling, holding hands and expressing love, the Delhi Queer Pride Parade witnessed thousands of queers along with their families and friends celebrating the freedom, first time since SC struck down a part of Section 377.

Members and supporters of the LGBT community take part in Delhi's Queer Pride Parade from Barakhamba road to Parliament street, in New Delhi, India, on November 25, 2018.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Members and supporters of the LGBT community take part in Delhi's Queer Pride Parade from Barakhamba road to Parliament street, in New Delhi, India, on November 25, 2018.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

The one kilometre-long stretch on Tolstoy Marg leading up to Parliament Street was decked in rainbow colours as people marched in the Delhi queer pride parade on Sunday — for the first time after Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalised homosexuality, was scrapped on September 6.

Around 3pm, people dressed in colourful costumes, holding balloons, flags and placards, assembled near the Ranjit Singh Flyover — at the intersection of Barakhamba Road and Tolstoy Marg — before marching towards Jantar Mantar as part of the 11th annual Delhi queer pride parade. Enroute, they sang, danced and chanted slogans.

“For us it is a formal celebration of winning the battle over Section 377 two months ago,” Shiv Sahu, a volunteer at Alliance Francaise, a French language and cultural institute, said.

“We don’t chant the slogan ‘kaunsa qanoon sabse battar, teen sau sattatar teen sau sattatar (Which law is the worst??Three seventy seven)’ anymore,” he added.

Members and supporters of LGBT community take part in Delhi's Queer Pride Parade. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Members and supporters of LGBT community take part in Delhi's Queer Pride Parade. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)

From over a hundred participants wearing masks to hide their identities in its first year in 2008 to more than 5,000 people from all walks of life identifying with their sexual orientations and genders as they marched in central Delhi in 2018, the pride parade has come a long way. Participation kept multiplying before the parade culminated at Parliament Street around 7pm.

Also read | Gay sex no longer a crime in India, rules Supreme Court on Section 377 in historic judgment

Organised on the last Sunday of every November, the Delhi queer pride is a community–driven endeavour planned by volunteers. Leading up to the march, events include a fundraiser party as well as a picnic. Unlike in the west, the pride parade in Delhi doesn’t allow organisations or other support groups to use their branding while participating in the march.

At each traffic light on the route towards the final destination, the police and traffic personal had to put in extra effort to streamline traffic without affecting the passage of the march on the sunny Sunday afternoon. A group of people danced their way under the nearly 15-metre-long pride rainbow flag, accompanied by dholakwalas. Participants in bright, colourful sarees and feathered head accessories posed with onlookers for selfies and videos, as they marched for more than four hours.

“Homosexuality is not a choice, but homophobia is,” read one of the placards.

You may also like | It’s our duty to strike down law if it violates rights: SC on Section 377

“I can hold my partner’s hand without feeling weird about it,” Rythma (first name only), a participant in the parade, said, as she marched, chanting “Azadi (freedom)” and “Hum honge kamyaab (we shall overcome)” slogans.

Members of LGBT community celebrate freedom at Delhi Queer Pride Parade on Sunday. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Members of LGBT community celebrate freedom at Delhi Queer Pride Parade on Sunday. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Gulam Jeelani writes on politics, national affairs and socio-economic issues for Hindustan Times. A journalist for seven years, he worked in Lucknow and Srinagar, before moving to New Delhi.

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