Mumbai celebrates SC verdict with gay abandon, pride
Victory march, cake cutting and tears of joy – celebrations erupted on Mumbai’s streets as the Supreme Court verdict decriminalized homosexuality on Thursday.
Alizeh, 20, a BMM student, who sported a beard and wore a dress that read ‘victory march’, described the court’s order as nothing short of ‘Independence Day’ for the community. The verdict, she said, gave her the freedom to roam around holding hands with her partner. “We were waiting with bated breath for the verdict, and the moment it was announced, I started dancing,” said Alizeh, who prefers being called gender fluid.
Like Alizeh, many others were present at Santacruz office of the The Humsafar Trust, one of the first groups in Mumbai to work with the gay community. They equated their fight and long wait to the country’s freedom struggle.
Today’s march, which was no different from the annual Pride March held in Mumbai, drew curious glances from onlookers and passers-by who wanted to know what the celebration was about.
“The first walk for equality was held in Kolkata in 1999, with only 15 participants. It was called the Friendship Walk. We have surely come a long way since then, but the actual victory will be when there will no stigma attached to the community,” said Sridhar Rangayan, a filmmaker.
Rangayan credits the current Supreme Court verdict to the 2009 Delhi High Court judgment, which according to him acted a “catalyst for change and helped many youngsters come out of the closet”.
Urmi Jadhav, a member of the LGBTQ group, Dancing Queens, believes the verdict will help change them as a couple to speak about their relationship to their respective families. “Transgenders into sex work are picked up by cops and charged under Section 377,” said Jadhav, a transwoman.
Chitra Palekar, a 70-year-old mother of a lesbian and a founder member of parent-driven support group, Sweekar, was in tears as she spoke about the victory.
Her daughter, who is now married and settled abroad, had come out in 1993. “It’s been a 25-year struggle for us, and going forward, the plan is to do what we have been doing all this while, continue with the advocacy and explain people what being a lesbian, gay or a transgender means. There are a lot of people who don’t know what LGBTQ stand for. I didn’t know either, it was only after my daughter came out to me that I did research and found out,” said Palekar, who had filed a petition in Supreme Court in 2009.