Delhi, India – More than a thousand people thronged into the heart of India’s capital for the fifth edition of the Delhi Queer Pride Parade that took place on Sunday in support of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community. Carrying rainbow-coloured flags and placards with slogans, supporters marched to the beats of traditional dhol drums. While some broke into hip-swinging Bollywood-style dance, there were many who kept their identities under wraps by wearing colourful masks. Delhi’s Pride Parade takes place annually on the last Sunday of November. Many other cities host pride parades in the month of June, commemorating the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City.
While the first gay pride parade in India took place in 2003, Delhi got its first parade in 2008. It was only in 2009, after such marches and protests hit cities across the country, that the Delhi High Court repealed section 377 of Indian Penal Code – according to which homosexual sexual relations was deemed a criminal offence.
Each year, new issues are addressed at the parade. “This year the theme is ‘gender’, and we are addressing something that oppresses us all – the straight-jacket of gender,” Mohnish Kabir Malhotra, a member of the Delhi Queer Pride organising committee, told Al Jazeera.
The parade brought together members of the LGBT community to support those who face discrimination, violence, abuse and ostracisation because of their gender or sexual identity, Malhotra added.
The parade in its initial years received limited support, from members of the community and mainly young allies, but recent parades have seen a change. “Parents, siblings, grandparents and relatives now come out and participate in the parade,” said Malhotra.
“The Pride Parade has brought homosexuality into the open and it is being accepted. It is not something that one only talks about behind closed doors.”