Hundreds turn out for Indian city’s first pride parade

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At least 300 turn out to celebrate the first queer pride parade in the city of Lucknow, India, on Sunday.

Members from both the LGBT and straight communities took to the streets in solidarity nearly 18 years after Kolkata held the first pride event in the country.

People came from as far away as Mumbai, Kolkata, Chandigarh and Jaipur to walk the 1.5km parade route hand in hand, waiving rainbow flags and sporting placards saying “I am Gay and it’s okay” and “I am a queer Muslim, babes, get over it”.

Ashock Row Kavi, chairman of India’s oldest LGBT organisation the Humsafar Trust in Mumbai said, “Lucknow was the epicentre of gay culture in the Gangetic plain which was evident in even its literature such as Umrao Jan Ada and was suppressed by the British.

“We are only keeping the tradition alive though the modern Indian political class is ashamed of it.”

An organiser from the Awadh Pride Committee, Darvesh Singh Yadavendra told The Times of India, “Like many others, I’m also surprised to see so many people coming out and supporting us. It is very moving for me and for everyone participating.

“A country where queer people are free is truly free and everybody can walk with dignity, so we are here to celebrate diversity of gender and sexuality, against any discrimination.”

He said the parade was organised to celebrate the diversity of sexuality and gender, and protest against harassment and discrimination aimed at the LGBT community.

Homosexuality is illegal in India under Section 377 of the penal code, based on outdated British colonial-era law that was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Hundreds were arrested last year under the law, though due to its vague nature it is often hard to distinguish between people charged over consenting and non-consenting sexual acts.

Violation of the law can result in a prison sentence of up to ten years.

America’s first trans judge was denied entry to India last month.