Riot of colours at Delhi’s second gay pride march

NEW DELHI - Some hid their faces behind rainbow coloured masks but others flaunted their sexuality unabashedly. The second edition of Delhi’s gay pride march was a riot of colours, and had the marchers dancing and shouting slogans in unison.

“Free hugs!” screamed the banner of one of the marchers, who smiled and opened his arms to anyone who came to him. The muggy day was no deterrent and he got hugs by a dozen.

Demanding repeal of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which makes homosexuality a crime, the marchers - dressed in a whole range of fancy attires - screamed: “We want justice.”

Holding a massive rainbow coloured flag - symbolising the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community - Ranjini, a transgender, said: “It feels so good to be able to walk the streets freely, without having people looking down upon me with a weird look. Yes, I am queer and I am proud of it.”

Holding aloft a rainbow flag, clicking photographs and sometimes breaking into a jig, Rebecca Loo, a tourist from Britain who participated in the march, said: “I am glad I could make it - never mind the heat! I came to know about the pride (march) from an acquaintance through Facebook and decided to come along. It’s really cool.”

Even as people, a number of them tourists from abroad and other foreigners, carried banners saying “Hetero-Homo bhai-bhai”, “Help me take my mask off” and “Yes, I am queer and am proud of it”, a wedding band played along the route of the march from the Tolstoy Marg in Connaught Place in the heart of the capital.

The march, which saw 600-700 people participate, culminated at Jantar Mantar.

Similar pride marches took place in other metros as well.

In what sounded like good news to the gay community, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily had earlier said the government would discuss the controversial Section 377 of the IPC.

Moily told reporters: “The home minister (P. Chidambaram) is planning to convene a meeting of the health and law ministers over this issue.”

However, leaders of other political parties have sounded wary over changing the law.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member M.K. Pandhe said: “Generally we don’t support homosexuality but I cannot say further on the issue because our party has not discussed the matter.”

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi went on to say that the government should not take hasty decisions.

“We are living in India, not in a European country. These issues are very important and sensitive. A thorough discussion is needed on this issue,” Naqvi told IANS.

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