Thousands of people thronged the streets of New Delhi to celebrate India’s lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community on Sunday.
Members of the LGBT community and their supporters marched at the annual Delhi Queer Pride Parade, shouting slogans and holding placards amid growing calls to decriminalize gay sex in the country. Section 377 of the Indian penal code, a colonial-era law that was reinstated by India’s top court in 2013 bans “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.”
In February, the country’s Supreme Court moved to reconsider the anti-sodomy law, referring the matter to a five-member bench in an unexpected victory for gay rights campaigners.
“What matters is the everyday life of queer people and we’ve seen an expansion of queer spaces everywhere. Since 2013, you see that the power that the law had earlier has diminished, regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision,” said Gautam Bhan, a gay rights activist.
However, activists say that since Section 377 was reinstated, gay men have increasingly become targets of robbery and extortion, and transgenders have faced discrimination and harassment.
“I’m here because I think it is important to show to people who we are, that we’re proud,” said Zakraya, a 22-year-old German who is studying in geography New Delhi. Zakraya, who declined to give his surname, said that he considered going back into the closet after coming to India to pursue his studies. “Back in Germany, I used to be open. But when I came here, I found that people were quite negative about it–so I even deleted my pictures from Facebook, the ones that might show I’m from the community.”
The push-and-pull over the law points to a wider clash between India’s conservative traditions and the mores of a rapidly modernizing, young population.
Some Indian community members were joined by their parents and loved ones at the parade.
“To me, I think the law is beginning to mean less and less,” said Mr. Bhan, the activist.
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