Bengaluru: This year, the Bengaluru Pride March and Karnataka Queer Habba were different. For, a majority of sexual minority community members chose to boldly reveal their identity by not covering their faces as in the past.
Nearly 2,000 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) activists, supporters and other sexual minorities marched on the City’s streets seeking an end to violence and oppression based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
The scorching sun did not deter them from marching from the City railway station till Chandrashekhar Azad grounds, Malleswaram, on Sunday afternoon.
The activists raised slogans and placards inked with such messages as ‘My Body, My Right’, ‘My Sexuality, My Right’ among others, leaving many onlookers curious, some of whom enquired about the event and its objectives. The participants greeted each other with red roses, released colourful balloons in the air and shook a leg or two.
They distributed pamphlets on IPC Section 377 (which criminalises gay sex) and demands of sexual minority community, etc.
Supporters from all over
Apart from Bengaluru, the participants had come from different parts of Karnataka as well as Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai.
One of them, Harish Iyer, who was accompanied by his mother, said, “Section 377 of the IPC and section 36 (A) of the Karnataka Police Act should be repealed. The Supreme Court judgment on transgender rights should be enforced without delay.”
Section 36(A) empowers the police commissioner to pass orders to maintain a register on the names and places of all transgenders, who are reasonably suspected of kidnapping or emasculating boys, committing unnatural offences, or any other offences.
Sandeep M, another participant, said that being part of the rally was liberating.
“The Indian society is against us which is unfortunate. Every individual has the right to be free and be with whomever he/she likes irrespective of the sex.”
An activist of the Campaign for Sexual Minorities and Sex Workers’ Rights (CSMR), which organised the event, claimed that the number of participants was going up every year.
“The next three weeks will have pride-related events such as flash mobs, ‘Queer My Mudra’, screening of queer-themed short films, musical performances, poetry-reading sessions and the diversity melas. These events will be held in different parts of Bengaluru,” said Archana Shetty of Campaign for Sexual Minorities and Sex Workers’ Rights.