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Gay rights parade in Indian capital

Timothy Jones
November 27, 2016

Gay rights activists have marched in an annual parade in India's capital, New Delhi. The event drew attention to the still prevalent discrimination against homosexuals in the country.

Participants in Queer Pride Parade
Image: Picture-Alliance/AP Photo/T. Topgyal

Hundreds of people marched in the Indian capital, New Delhi, on Sunday in an annual gay rights parade in a country that still has a law criminalizing homosexual acts.

The Queer Pride Parade has taken place in the city since 2008, and is among a number of other similar events that have been established in other major centers, including one in the eastern city of Kolkata that goes back to 1999.

Over the past decades, homosexuals have become increasingly accepted in India, particularly in large cities, with many bars having gay nights and some Bollywood films even thematizing gay issues.

However, Section 377 of the Penal Code, which was declared unconstitutional in 2009 but reinstated by the Supreme Court four years later, makes gay sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The section was introduced during the British rule of India.

Widely conservative society

Many from India's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community feel that the legal discrimination against them is unlikely to change in the near future, given what is widely perceived as a non-supportive stance of the Hindu nationalist government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Activist Rituparna Borah expressed pessimism about the current situation in remarks to the Associated Press news agency, saying that India had "yet to have an inclusive society."

Being gay is considered shameful in most of the country, and many people who are homosexual keep the fact a secret for fear of ostracism or persecution.