Indian city of Amritsar holds first-ever Pride parade

The city of Amritsar in northwestern India has held its first-ever Pride parade, with around 75 people joining the march.

A group of LGBT+ activists marched through Amritsar on June 23, wearing facepaint and carrying rainbow pride flags to celebrate LGBT Pride month.

The Pride parade was the first in Punjab outside of the capital, Chandigarh, according to the Times of India.

Amritsar is the largest city in Punjab and also the centre of the Sikh religion. The Harmandir Sahib, or Golden Temple, in Amritsar is the Sikhs’ principal place of worship.

Gurleen Arora, an LGBTQ activist, said, “A beginning has been made. I can see an evolution in Amritsar. Nobody can infringe on others’ fundamental rights.”

“Our efforts would give a sense of security to LGBTQ people and bring an end to their isolation and criticism both within family and society,” Arora said.

But when the activists gathered in the Rose Garden on Sunday night, the reaction from passersby was not all positive.

“How could they dare to say publicly I am gay or lesbian? Let them have any kind of sexual orientation and do whatever within four walls,” said Ravinder Singh, a banker, who was at the Rose Garden.

“But they need not voice their choices so publicly,” he said.

Amritsar pride organised by students

Two 18-year-old students organised the Amritsar Pride parade.

“We will take out Punjab’s first eve ‘Pride Parade’ on Sunday with around over 100 LGBT queers from Amritsar and Jalandhar,” said Ridham Chadha,an, one of the parade organisers.

India decriminalised gay sex on 6 September 2018. Consensual same-sex relations were previously punishable by life in prison and had been for 157 years (except for between 2009 and 2013), since the introduction of Section 377 in 1861.

The law, made under British colonial rule, banned sexual activity “against the order of nature,” including with another man or woman.

In September 2018, Delhi held the first Pride march since the decriminalisation of gay sex.