India's most prominent LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and†Queer) Pride March was held in Mumbai to express and celebrate their sexual identity and also to ask for equal rights.
The pride walk started from August Kranti Maidan and went till Girgaum Chowpatty under its solidarity symbol - the rainbow flag. The theme of the pride parade this year was 'Section 377 Quit India' which was inspired by the 75 year old Quit India Movement.
Like each year, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), largest global AIDS organization, distributed free condoms to the participants with an aim to promote awareness about safer sex practices among the community.
Sharing his thoughts on the 10th pride parade, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, Goodwill Ambassador, AIDS Healthcare Foundation said, "Homosexuality has existed in our country since the bygone era and we also find evidence of the same in our mythology, culture, literature, art and tradition. It's important for the society to realise that no amount of stigmatisation and discrimination will deter the queer community from fighting for and securing their rights. Section 377 is under purview, so hopefully the future shall hold some positive outcomes. Many countries have already accepted the existence of homosexuality and legalised it. Society must accept and recognise their existence treat them with due respect and dignity".
Commenting on the successful conclusion of the queer pride month, the gay activist Bismaya Raulo, Programme Coordinator, Impulse New Delhi (a part of AIDS Healthcare Foundation) said, "The existing stigma and discrimination against the queers poses a huge challenge for the community to come out of their closet and express their sexual identity. Observations like pride month give a platform to the queer community to collectively showcase their strength and call on an inclusive society".
The 'Mumbai Pride Month' had kicked off on January 5 and concluded with the most celebrated pride parade of the country with an objective of creating wider visibility on the dire need of ending stigma/discrimination attached to HIV as well as sexuality.
The month witnessed variety of engaging festivities and events in different pockets of Mumbai, from movie screenings, plays, drag shows, rainbow kite flying, street performances, and finally, the Queer Pride March.
Dr. V. Sam Prasad, Country Programme Director, AIDS Healthcare Foundation said, "As a global organization, AHF believes in equal rights for every individual. Such grand public initiatives help strengthening conversations around mainstreaming the miniscule population of LGBTQ community in the country. As an ally, we are here to support and promote healthy and inclusive society where people are not targeted over their personal choices".
Supreme Court recently manifested that a larger group of judges would revisit and examine the constitutional validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a law that criminalises sexual activities "against the law of nature". Such instance has proved to be a 'beacon of hope' for the side-lined LGBTQ community in India.