Gay pride parades hit Indian cities

Rights activists and homosexuals take to the streets of three major Indian cities.

    New Delhi saw its first gay pride
    parade on Sunday [AFP] 

    The marches came days before the Delhi high court is expected to hear arguments on overturning a law against homosexual sex that dates back to the British colonial era.

    The law, which forbids sexual acts "against the order of nature", carries punishment of up to 10 years in prison.

    The law is rarely enforced, but activists say it sanctions discrimination.

    "Discrimination is widespread because there is no protection or law or
    societal understanding," said Lesley Esteves, 32, a gay rights activist who
    helped organize the New Delhi parade.

    "There's discrimination in the workplace; there's discrimination in the family, it's on every level," he said.

    'Hetero-Homo Bhai-Bhai'

    Between the rainbow scarves and feathered crowns, marchers waved signs calling for a repeal of the law banning gay sex and banners with slogans like, "Hetero-Homo Bhai-Bhai" - which translates loosely as "gays and straights are brothers".

    The protests in all three cities were peaceful, though the number of police and journalists likely matched that of the marchers.

    Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a senior leader of India's main Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said he opposed the gay activists' march and called homosexuality "unnatural".

    "I don't think it will be accepted in our country. Most of the people are traditional people, religious people, and it will not be accepted in Indian culture," Naqvi said.

    Naqvi said BJP supporters did not protest the march because "we are not going to give importance to such behavior".

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    As tensions over India's citizenship law shine a light on Assam, a writer explores the historical tensions in the state.

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    The story of a man who spent 19 years awaiting execution reveals the power of a false blasphemy claim to destroy a life.

    The Syrian women and girls sold into sexual slavery in Lebanon

    The Syrian women and girls sold into sexual slavery in Lebanon

    Syria's refugee crisis has shone a light on sex trafficking in Lebanon, where victims are often treated as criminals.