This year’s Queer Azaadi Mumbai Pride saw 15,000 taking the streets of the capital of Maharashtra, India.
The annual celebration was the first parade ever since the subcontinent decriminalized gay sex in September 2018.
‘Pride was very nice, it was fabulous,’ co-organizer Ankit Bhuptani told GSN.
Bhuptani explained why Pride this year held a special significance for the LGBTI community.
‘I was considered as a criminal ever since I was born,’ he said.
‘For the first time, I could say I was no longer a criminal in my own country.’
He also said this year’s march in Mumbai registered the biggest turnout to date.
‘No one was wearing masks’
The Mumbai activist pointed out no one was wearing masks for the very first time at a Pride march in India.
Indian LGBTI people, in fact, used to conceal their identity at Prides out of fear of being arrested.
‘What was surprising is that of all the people attending the event, not a single one was wearing a mask,’ he said.
‘Not only activists, but everyone at the parade, they could say they were LGBTI without any fear.’
Bhuptani further explained it was the first time the local community and many straight allies supported a Pride event.
‘Doctors associations, teachers, colleges and education associations, Indian and multinational companies were there marching for Pride,’ he said.
This is a massive victory for the country, where Pride events used to be targeted by anti-LGBTI groups.
‘Three or four years ago, during Mumbai Pride, there were people shouting at us that homosexuals are going to hell,’ Bhuptani recalled.
This year, however, there was no such thing as hate crime.
‘But the path to equality doesn’t stop here,’ also said Bhuptani.
He said the community has two more battles to fight moving forward.
Having anti-discrimination laws specifically protecting LGBTI people is the first.
‘The law protects minority religious groups, for instance, but there is no specific law saying you cannot discriminate against someone on the grounds of sexual and gender orientation,’ the activist pointed out.
Moreover, they are fighting to have the rights of transgender and intersex people recognized.
‘There’s a transgender bill presented at the Parliament of India which is very bad. If passed, it will endanger the identity of trans people,’ explained Bhuptani.
In South Asia, people regard a number of gender identities as a third gender. For example, Hijra may have been assigned male at birth and live as women. Some also identify as trans or intersex or just as Hijra.