100 take part in first gay pride march in Pune, India

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Around 100 people participated in the first gay pride march to be held in Pune, India’s eighth largest city.

The rally was organised by Samapathik, a local men’s sexual health organisation.

“We had organized this rally to mark the 10 years of our fight for the rights of homosexuals,” said Bindumadhav Khire, president of Samapathik told The Times of India.

“People laugh at us. Many do not understand our sentiments. This leads to frustration among the people who support homosexuality,” Mr Khire added.
Mr Khire told the newspaper that the lack of rights in society has led many to indulge in risky sexual behaviour and an increase in HIV.
“The picture can change if the society gives attention to their issues. That’s why we had organized this parade. It was the first of its kind parade in Pune. We have decided to hold it every year,” he said.
In July, India’s health minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, caused uproar by referring to homosexuality as an unnatural “disease” from the west.

Also this summer, a lesbian couple were granted 24-hour police protection after family members allegedly threatened to kill them.

The women, named as Savita, 25, and Veena, 20, from Manesar, near New Delhi, married and went to a court to ask for protection. They were reportedly granted a safe house and full-time police protection.

Homosexuality was decriminalised by the Delhi High Court in July 2009, when it was ruled to have been in violation of the constitution.

Section 377 was enacted in 1860 under the British Raj, in line with the anti-sodomy laws in England at the time.