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Indian gays set for first nationwide pride marches June 27, 2008

Posted by nitinkarani in English, LGBT, Pride 2008, The Asian Age.
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AFP report in The Asian Age

Indian gays set for first nationwide pride marches
By Tripti Lahiri

New Delhi

June 26: Homosexuality is officially illegal in India but the country’s lesbians and gays say that will not stop them coming out for the first nationwide pride marches this weekend.

For the first time gay men, lesbians, transgendered individuals and their friends and family in several major Indian cities will join global gay pride events.

“That the march is happening now and not before is an indication that people are finally feeling brave enough to come out for that kind of celebration,” said Lesley Esteves (32), a gay rights activist who is one of the organisers of the parade in New Delhi.

“It is only now we feel we have the numbers to do this.”

A British colonial-era provision in Indian law prohibits “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and activists say this allows authorities to treat gay people like criminals.

Under the statute, known as Section 377, unlawful sex is punishable by a fine and a 10-year prison term. Activists say that while few people are arrested or convicted under the law, many gays and lesbians prefer not to come out.

“On the one hand there is criminalisation. And there is no non-discrimination legislation, no protection, no recognition of same-sex partnerships,” said rights activist Gautam Bhan (28), who plans to march in Delhi on Sunday.

“While the law exists our hands are tied. Everything you do can become suspect. There is not that much to be happy about,” Mr Bhan said. —AFP

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