Strange pride is here to stay

Segway-like vehicles were also used by the police to keep an eye on the large crowd on Marina Beach.

For the first time since 2008, Mumbai was not allowed to celebrate with a march of pride on the first weekend in February. Instead, the community gathered to protest the denial of permission in Azad Maidan from 3:00 p.m. on February 1. until 18:00

This year, the police refused to allow political sloganing. Instead, Pride organizers, Queer Azaadi Mumbai (QAM), were suggested to hold the march in Azad Maidan. However, the queer community could not ignore the ongoing discourse on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). "The CAA and NRC, or any problem that affects anyone, also affects queer people," said Harish Iyer, an equal rights activist and member of the QAM.

Praful Baweja, member and Pride organizer at QAM, who along with others is responsible for ensuring the necessary permissions for the Pride March, said that planning starts in September. On January 28, Baweja and QAM members Tinesh Chopde and Saurabh Bondre were called to the Gamdevi police station after a poster showing anti-CAA moods was posted on social media. "We received a video of a spontaneous protest in Nagpada where women were sitting without permission," said Baweja, adding that her personal documents such as Aadhaar cards were being scanned. "The police had information that people would kidnap the Queer Parade and talk about issues other than those affecting the community."

Supporters and members of the LGBT community take part in a Queer Azadi in March 2020 in Azad Maidan in Mumbai.

Supporters and members of the LGBT community take part in a Queer Azadi in March 2020 in Azad Maidan in Mumbai.
| Photo credit: Mitesh Bhuvad

From 3:00 p.m., hordes of people from the community and allies, including curious tourists and very amused spectators, gathered around the Maidan. About 3,000 people gathered on the dusty floor: several very colorfully dressed, painted queer flags (trans, bi and gay) on their faces. Despite the discomfort and the refusal to celebrate pride, members of the community remained lively. On the stage, Iyer demanded unity, pride in self-expression and sexual orientation and read posters. like one in Urdu who saidMohabbat gunha nahi shark”(Love is not a crime).

Amidst a flood of posters such as "Jesus loves gays" and "Free Hugs", several banners held the CAA. A special appeal was made to remain silent when a faction of people bearing the flag of Jai Bhim invited everyone to chant slogans Azaadi, ANAT, an exclusively male theater group, staged a street game in which fascists in power were compared to rapists. while sex workers tried to erase the stigma of their work and demand unity.

A high point was the arrival of a young gay, gender-independent person, Mx Ria Sharma, on stage with her parents, who are members of Sweekar, a collective supportive and accepting guardian of gay people. Mr. Sharma, Ria's father, proudly stated:Aap jaise bhi ho, ache ho, hamare bacche ho”(Whatever you are, you are good and you are our children).

While police officers took the Pride parade away, they could not completely cancel it in Mumbai.

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