India: 300 take part in eighth gay pride march in Pune

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Around 300 people participated in the eighth gay pride march held in Pune, India’s eighth largest city.

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

“This time we are specifically looking at youngsters who are petrified of coming out in the open about their sexual orientation,” Bindumadhav Khire, president of Samapathik, told The Times of India.

“We want to help them in accepting their sexuality and being comfortable about it.”.

Participants were asked to dress decently and behave well, and told not to shout slogans based on religion, castes, political parties, leaders or slogans against the Supreme Court or Supreme Court judges.

Organisers said in a statement: “If a participant is found to misbehave we will hand him/her over to the police. I hope participants understand that Pune is conservative by nature and they are expected to respect these sentiments.

“If they find that these conditions are unfair/too stifling they are free to express their pride elsewhere.”

In December last year, the court overturned a previous High Court judgment that said Section 377 of India’s penal code was unconstitutional.

The decision caused outrage among LGBT activists and many of the county’s politicians.

Previous attempts by campaigners to reverse the Supreme Court ruling have so far failed.

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